Charlotte Louise Forten was sent to Salem by her family in Philadelphia to attend Salem's desegregated schools. She stayed with members of the family of John Remond, a successful business man and abolitionist who was affiliated with William Lloyd Garrison.
Charlotte attended the Higginson Grammar School in Salem, and then
became the first African American woman to graduate from the Salem Normal School (today, Salem State University), which was a teacher training school for women.
Charlotte's first teaching position was at the Epes Grammar School in Salem. In 1862, after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, she traveled to Port Royal, South Carolina, to teach the children of freed slaves on Saint Helena Island. In July of 1863, Charlotte volunteered as a nurse for the Massachusetts 54th Regiment after their defeat at Fort Wagner, SC.
Before leaving Salem, Charlotte was a member of the bi-racial Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society along with her good friend Sarah Parker Remond.
She eventually married into the (white) abolitionist family of Angelina and Sarah Grimké. Her husband, Reverend Francis Grimké, was the minister of the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. He was also half-brother to Angelina and Sarah; his mother was an enslaved women in the Grimké household.
Charlotte Forten Grimké's journals are a must-read, as are her important poems and essays.
Learn more about her from Black Past!
Charlotte Louise Forten Grimké
Born: 1837, Philadelphia
Died: 1914, Washington, D.C.