Black History Presents – Daily knowledge: Charlotte Forten Grimké (Day 23)
Charlotte Forten Grimké
Charlotte Forten Grimké was an anti-slavery activist, poet, and educator. Forten was the first black teacher to join the American Civil War’s Sea Islands mission. During her time in South Carolina, she worked with many former slaves who were enthusiastic about her teaching. She chronicled this time in her essays titled, “Life on the Sea Islands“, which were published in the Atlantic Monthly in the May and June issues of 1864. In the late 1860s, Forten worked for the U.S. Treasury Department in Washington, DC recruiting teachers. In 1873 she became a clerk at the Treasury Department.
Charlotte Forten Grimké’s last literary effort was in response to an Evangelist editorial, “Relations of Blacks and Whites: Is There a Color Line in New England?” It asserted that blacks were not discriminated against in New England society. Forten Grimké stated that black Americans achieved success over extraordinary social odds, and they simply wanted fair and respectful treatment.
Charlotte Forten Grimké was a regular journal writer until she returned north after teaching in South Carolina. After her return, her entries were less frequent. While she did write about her daughter’s death and her busy life with her husband, her writing was less frequent than the daily entries she made when younger. Her diary is one of the few extant documents detailing the life of a free black female in the antebellum North.