Sarah Parker Remond

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Sarah Parker Remond
Sarah Parker Remond.jpg
Born(1826-06-06)June 6, 1826
Salem, Massachusetts, United States
DiedDecember 13, 1894(1894-12-13) (aged 68)
Alma materBedford College
Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova
OccupationActivist, physician
Spouse(s)Lazzaro Pintor
Parent(s)John Remond (father)
Nancy Lenox (mother)
RelativesCharles Lenox Remond (brother)
Caroline Remond Putnam (sister)
Cecilia Remond Putnam (sister)
Marchita Remond (sister)

Sarah Parker Remond (June 6, 1826 – December 13, 1894) was an American lecturer, activist and abolitionist campaigner. Born a free woman in the state of Massachusetts, she became an international activist for human rights and women's suffrage. Remond made her first public speech against the institution of slavery when she was 16 years old, and delivered abolitionist speeches throughout the northeastern United States. One of her brothers, Charles Lenox Remond, became known as an orator and they occasionally toured together for their abolitionist lectures.

Eventually becoming an agent of the American Anti-Slavery Society, in 1858 Remond chose to travel to Britain to gather support for the growing abolitionist cause in the United States. While in London, Remond also studied at Bedford College, lecturing during term breaks. During the American Civil War, she appealed for support among the British public for the Union and their blockade of the Confederacy. After the conclusion of the war in favor of the Union, she appealed for funds to support the millions of the newly emancipated freedmen in the American South.

From England, Remond went to Italy in 1867 to pursue medical training in Florence, where she became a physician. She practiced medicine for nearly 20 years in Italy and never returned to the United States, dying in Rome at the age of 68.

Early years[edit]

Born in Salem, Massachusetts, Remond was one of the between eight and eleven children of John Remond and Nancy (née Lenox) Remond.[1] Nancy was born in Newton, daughter of Cornelius Lenox, a Revolutionary War veteran who had fought in the Continental Army, and Susanna Perry.[2] John Remond was a free person of color who immigrated to Massachusetts from the Dutch colony of Curaçao as a 10-year old child in 1798. John and Nancy married in October 1807, in the African Baptist Church in Boston. In Salem, they built a successful catering, provisioning, and hairdressing business, becoming well-established businesspeople and activists.[1]

The Remonds tried to place their children in a private school, but they were rejected because of their race. When Sarah Remond and her sisters were accepted to a local high school for girls which was not segregated, they were expelled, as the school committee was planning to found a separate school for African American children. Remond later described the incident as engraved in her heart "like the scarlet letter of Hester."[1] In 1835, the Remond family moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where they hoped to find a less racist environment in which to educate their children. However, the schools refused to accept black students. Instead, some influential African Americans established a private school, where Remond was educated.[1]

In 1841, the Remond family returned to Salem.[1] Sarah Remond continued her education on her own, attending concerts and lectures, and reading widely in books, pamphlets and newspapers borrowed from friends, or purchased from the anti-slavery society of her community, which sold many inexpensive titles.[3] The Remond family also took in as boarders students who were attending the local girls' academy, including Charlotte Forten (later Grimké).[4]

Three of Remond's sisters built a business together: Cecilia (married to James Babcock), Maritchie Juan, and Caroline (married to Joseph Putnam),[4] "owned the fashionable Ladies Hair Work Salon" in Salem, as well as the biggest wig factory in the state.[5] Their oldest sister Nancy married James Shearman, an oyster dealer. The Remond brothers were Charles Remond, who became an abolitionist and orator; and John Remond, who married Ruth Rice, one of two women elected to the finance committee of the 1859 New England Colored Citizens' Convention.[4][1]

Anti-slavery activism and lecturing[edit]

Salem in the 1840s was a center of anti-slavery activity, and the whole family was committed to the rising abolitionist movement in the United States. The Remonds' home was a haven for black and white abolitionists, and they hosted many of the movement's leaders, including William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips, and more than one fugitive slave fleeing north to freedom. John Remond was a life member of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society.[2] Sarah Remond's older brother Charles Lenox Remond was the first black lecturer of the American Anti-Slavery Society's and considered a leading black abolitionist. Nancy Remond was one of the founders of the Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society.[1] Nancy not only taught her daughters the household skills of cooking and sewing but also to seek liberty lawfully; she wanted them to take part in society.[3] With her mother and sisters, Sarah Remond was an active member of the state and county female anti-slavery societies, including the Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society, the New England Anti-Slavery Society, and the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. She also regularly attended antislavery lectures in Salem and Boston.[2]

With the support and financial backing of her family, Sarah Remond became an anti-slavery lecturer, delivering her first lecture against slavery at the age of 16, with her brother Charles in Groton, Massachusetts, in July 1842.[6] Remond rose to prominence among abolitionists in 1853, when she refused to sit in a segregated theater section. She had bought tickets by post for herself and a group of friends, including historian William C. Nell, to the popular opera, Don Pasquale, at the Howard Athenaeum in Boston.[7] When they arrived at the theatre, Remond was shown to segregated seating. After refusing to accept it, she was forced to leave the theatre and pushed down some stairs.[3] Remond sued for damages and won her case. She was awarded $500, and an admission by theatre management that she was wronged; the court ordered the theater to integrate all seating.[7][8]

In 1856, the American Anti-Slavery Society hired a team of lecturers, including Remond; Charles, already well known in the U.S. and Britain; and Susan B. Anthony, to tour New York State addressing anti-slavery issues. Over the next two years, she, her brother, and others also spoke in New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.[2] She and other African Americans were often given poor accommodation due to racial discrimination.[3] Although inexperienced, Remond rapidly became an effective speaker. William Lloyd Garrison praised her "calm, dignified manner, her winning personal appearance and her earnest appeals to the conscience and the heart."[9] Sarah Clay wrote that Remond's every word "waked up dormant aspirations which would vibrate through the ages."[1] Over time, she became one of the society's most persuasive and powerful lecturers.[10]

Abby Kelley Foster, a noted abolitionist in Massachusetts, encouraged Remond when they toured together in 1857.[11] On December 28, 1858, Remond wrote in a letter to Foster:[12]

I feel almost sure I never should have made the attempt but for the words of encouragement I received from you. Although my heart was in the work, I felt that I was in need of a good English education ... When I consider that the only reason why I did not obtain what I so much desired was because I was the possessor of an unpopular complexion, it adds to my discomfort.

Anti-slavery lecturing in Great Britain[edit]

Frederick Douglass, circa 1879. Remond and Douglass toured together in Britain.

As a good speaker and fundraiser, Remond was invited to take the cause of the American abolitionists to Britain, as her brother Charles had done ten years earlier. Accompanied by the Reverend Samuel May, Jr., she sailed from Boston for Liverpool on December 28, 1858, on the steamer Arahia. They arrived in Liverpool on January 12, 1859, after a discomforting trip in the winter. The ship had become covered with ice and snow, and rolled and tossed so much that many of the passengers became ill, including Remond.[3] At Tuckerman Institute on January 21, 1859, Remond gave her first antislavery lecture in England. Her second lecture, "Slave Life in America," took place just a few days later on January 24. During these speeches, she spoke eloquently of the inhumane treatment of slaves in the United States, her stories shocking many of her listeners. She also described the discrimination endured by free blacks throughout the United States.[1]

Remond lectured to crowds in cities throughout the British Isles for the next three years, raising large sums of money for the anti-slavery cause. Between 1859 and 1861, she gave more than forty-five lectures in England, Ireland, and Scotland.[2] Remond also appeared at times with Frederick Douglass.[1] Although before she sailed, Remond expected to confront similar prejudice as what she encountered in the United States, writing Abby Kelly Foster that she feared not "the wind nor the waves, but I know that no matter how I go, the spirit of prejudice will meet me," she met with a greater acceptance in Britain. "I have been received here as a sister by white women for the first time in my life," she wrote; "I have received a sympathy I never was offered before."[1]

Remond was praised for her speeches, in which she spoke out against slavery and racial discrimination, stressing the sexual exploitation of black women under slavery.[1] Remond called on common themes found in sentimental fiction, such as family, womanhood, and marriage, to evoke an emotional response in her audience.[13] During her tour of Ireland, she compared the plight of the African slave to the working-class laborers in her audience, worrying her middle and upper class sponsors.[14] In her short autobiography, written in 1861, she observed that "prejudice against colour has always been the one thing, above all others, which has cast its gigantic shadow over my whole life."[15]

Once the American Civil War (1861–65) began, Remond worked to build support in Britain for the Union blockade of the Confederacy and the Union cause. Because British textile factories relied heavily on American cotton from the Southern United States, Remond focused on this in her lectures. In an 1862 speech, she implored her London audience to "Let no diplomacy of statesmen, no intimidation of slaveholders, no scarcity of cotton, no fear of slave insurrections, prevent the people of Great Britain from maintaining their position as the friend of the oppressed negro."[16] After the conclusion of the Civil War, Remond changed her focus to lecture on behalf of the millions of freedmen in the United States, soliciting funds and clothing for them. She was an active member of the London Emancipation Society and the Freedman's Aid Association in London. Her lecture "The Freeman or the Emancipated Negro of the Southern States of the United States," delivered in London, was published in The Freedman (London) in 1867.[3] In the mid-1860s, Remond published a letter from London in the Daily News protesting that racial prejudice had worsened thanks to the efforts of planters in the West Indies and the American South.[17]

Education and later years[edit]

Remond is interred at the Cimitero Acattolico in Rome.

From October 1859 to June 1861, Remond undertook studies at Bedford College (later part of the University of London and now merged with Royal Holloway College). She studied classical academic subjects: French, Latin, English literature, music, history and elocution,[18] continuing to give her own lectures during college vacations.[19] During this period, she also traveled to Rome and Florence in Italy.[6]

Remond continued to be involved in abolitionist and feminist causes in Britain. She was a member first of the London Emancipation Committee, and then helped found and served on the executive committee of the Ladies' London Emancipation Society, which was organized in 1863.[1] Remond is thought to be the only black woman[20] who was among the 1500 signatories to a women-only, 1866 petition requesting the right of women to vote.[21] Returning briefly to the U.S., Remond joined with the American Equal Rights Association working for equal suffrage for women and African Americans.[19]

Remond continued her studies at the London University College, graduating as a nurse.[1] Then, at the age of 42 in 1867, she moved permanently to Florence. She entered the Santa Maria Nuova Hospital school as a medical student.[7] At the time, the school was one of the most prestigious medical schools in Europe.[1] After completing her studies and becoming a doctor, she remained in Florence for many years, then resided in Rome.[11] Remond practiced medicine for more than 20 years, never returning to the United States. Her sister Caroline and Maritcha joined her from the United States.[1] Frederick Douglass met the three women while visiting Rome in 1886.[22]

In Italy, on April 25, 1877, Remond married Lazzaro Pintor (1833–1913), an Italian office worker originally from Sardinia.[1] By the 1880s, Remond Pintor had moved to Rome.[1] Remond died on December 13, 1894, in Rome. She is interred at the Protestant Cemetery in Rome.[23]

Tribute[edit]

In 1999 the Massachusetts State House honored six outstanding women of the state by installing a series of six tall marble panels with a bronze bust in each; the busts are of Remond, Dorothea Dix, Florence Luscomb, Mary Kenney O'Sullivan, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, and Lucy Stone.[24][25] Two quotations from each of these women are etched on their own marble panel. The wall behind the panels has wallpaper made of six government documents repeated over and over, with each document being related to a cause of one or more of the women.[24][25]

The 2019 anthology New Daughters of Africa, edited by Margaret Busby, includes two pieces by Sarah Parker Remond: "Why Slavery is Still Rampant" and "The Negro Race in America" (a letter to the editor of The Daily News, London, in 1866).[26][27]

In 2020, the University College London renamed its Centre for the Study of Racism & Racialisation the Sarah Parker Remond Centre.[28]

The best-selling novel, La linea del colori: Il Grand Tour di Lafanu Brown, by Somalian writer Igiaba Scego (Florence: Giunti, 2020), in Italian, combines the characters of African-American sculptor Edmonia Lewis and Sarah Parker Remond and is dedicated to Rome and to these two figures.[29][30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Sirpa, Salenius (2016). An Abolitionist Abroad: Sarah Parker Remond in Cosmopolitan Europe. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. ISBN 9781613764817. OCLC 1012312578.
  2. ^ a b c d e Porter, Dorothy Burnett (1985), The Remonds of Salem, Massachusetts: A Nineteenth-Century Family Revisited, Boston: American Antiquarian Society
  3. ^ a b c d e f Hine, Darlene Clark; Brown, Elsa Barkley; Terborg-Penn, Rosalyn (1993). "Sarah Parker Remond (1826–1894)". Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia. vol II M-Z. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-926019-61-9. |volume= has extra text (help)
  4. ^ a b c Grimké, Charlotte Forten (1988). "People in the Journals". In Stevenson, Brenda E. (ed.). The Journals of Charlotte Forten Grimké. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. xli–xlix. ISBN 0-19-505238-2.
  5. ^ Rooks, Noliwe M. (1996). Hair Raising: Beauty, Culture and African-American Women. Rutgers University Press. p. 24. ISBN 9780813523125.
  6. ^ a b Bethel, Kari. "Remond, Sarah Parker (1826–1894) | Encyclopedia.com". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c "Sarah Parker Remond and the Remonds of Salem", Variety, Spice, Life, 20 July 2011.
  8. ^ May 4, 1853: Sarah Remond Ejected from Boston Theater
  9. ^ Sterling, Dorothy, ed. (1984). We are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century. W.W. Norton & Company. p. 176. ISBN 9780393316292. Retrieved December 7, 2016.
  10. ^ "Remond at Bedford College in London", SARAH PARKER REMOND: A Daughter of Salem, Massachusetts, July 15, 2011.
  11. ^ a b Sterling, Dorothy (1994). Ahead of Her Time: Abby Kelley and the Politics of Antislavery. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 276.
  12. ^ Sterling, Dorothy, ed. (1984). "Women with a Special Mission". We are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 176. ISBN 9780393316292.
  13. ^ Salenius, Sirpa (April 12, 2017). "Transatlantic Interracial Sisterhoods: Sarah Remond, Ellen Craft, and Harriet Jacobs in England". Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies. 38 (1): 166–196. doi:10.5250/fronjwomestud.38.1.0166. ISSN 1536-0334. S2CID 164419591.
  14. ^ Zackodnick, Teresa (2011). Press, Platform, Pulpit: Black Feminist Publics in the Era of Reform. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. p. 66.
  15. ^ Miller Sr., Connie A. (2008). Frederick Douglass American Hero: and International Icon of The Nineteenth Century. Xlibris. p. 343. ISBN 9781441576491. Retrieved December 7, 2016.[self-published source]
  16. ^ Foner, Philip S.; Robert James Branham, eds. (1998). "Chapter 66: The Negroes in the United States of America – Sarah Parker Remond". Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787–1900. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. pp. 377–80. ISBN 978-0817308483. Reprinted from The Journal of Negro History 27 (April 1942), pp. 216–18.
  17. ^ Bolt, Christine (2013). Victorian Attitudes to Race. Routledge. pp. 103–104. ISBN 9781135031503.
  18. ^ James, Edward T.; Janet Wilson James, eds. (1971). Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary: 1607–1950. 3. Harvard University Press.
  19. ^ a b Johnson Lewis, Jone, "Sarah Parker Remond, African American Abolitionist", ThoughtCo., September 16, 2017.
  20. ^ "Women Writers and Italy: Two Englishwomen In Rome and Sarah Parker Remond", Woman And Her Sphere.
  21. ^ Crawford, Elizabeth, "Women: From Abolition to the Vote | Women's suffrage campaign: 1866–1903", British History, BBC, June 20, 2011.
  22. ^ Coleman, Willie, "Remond, Sarah Parker (1824–1894)", BlackPast.org.
  23. ^ "Notable Graves of the Non-Catholic Cemetery". The Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome. Retrieved December 7, 2016.
  24. ^ a b "Virtual Tour of the Massachusetts State House: Women's Memorial". Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  25. ^ a b Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities (1999). "Making the World Better: The Struggle for Equality in 19th Century America" (PDF). Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  26. ^ Busby, Margaret, ed. (2019). New Daughters of Africa. Myriad Editions. pp. 4–9. ISBN 9781912408023.
  27. ^ Rocker-Clinton, Johnna (August 2019). "New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent". San Francisco Book Review. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  28. ^ UCL (March 11, 2020). "UCL centre renamed in memory of transatlantic abolitionist". UCL News. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  29. ^ Grasso, Gabriella (May 27, 2020). "Today's must-read is Afro-Italian and talks about two women's stories, between the US and Italy". Elle. Translated by Alessio Colonnelli. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  30. ^ Riccò, Giulia (December 7, 2020). "Reimagining Italy Through Black Women's Eyes". Public Books. Retrieved March 25, 2021.

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