The Grimké Sisters: A Mural at UUCS
Modified on: April 23, 2020
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment and women’s right to vote this year, the Spartanburg chapter of the League of Women Voters has commissioned a work of public art in honor of the Grimké sisters. Sarah and Angelina Grimké, originally from Charleston and annual visitors to a family farm on the border of Spartanburg County during their childhood summers, became leading abolitionists and suffragists in the 19th century. The League would like to create a mural in honor of the Grimkés and all who have fought for the freedoms we enjoy today.
And they would like for the mural to be at UUCS. The cost of the mural will be fully funded by the League, and it would be placed on our building facing Henry and Union Streets for maximum public viewing. Our Board has worked with the League’s leadership on design and placement, and have approved the mural in principle contingent on a comment period from our congregation.
Local artist and educator Nancy Corbin has designed the mural in honor of the Grimké sisters to represent all who fight for freedom together. The location would be the exterior of Wilde Hall, below our Sanctuary. New landscaping to provide better access and viewing of the site are part of the project.
The following three pictures show (1) the location, (2) the location with a sketch at scale superimposed, and (3) a watercolor sketch of the mural in full color:
On behalf of the League and the Board, I would like to ask for your comments on this project proposal. Please submit them by May 15 (prior to our next Board meeting on May 20). You may send these to our Board at firstname.lastname@example.org, which all of our Board members and minister will receive.
About the Grimké Sisters
Angelina Grimké Weld and Sarah Grimké were important women in the quest for abolition of slavery and women’s rights.
They were raised in Charleston on a plantation owned by their wealthy and well known father. They spent some summers on property near Cross Anchor. They had a typical upper-class South Carolina upbringing, but both became opposed to slavery at an early age.
Sarah moved north first and Angelina followed her in the early 1830’s. Thousands of people walked miles to hear them speak on the evils of slavery. The sisters raised money for the abolitionist movement. They were doing this at a time when it was not considered appropriate for women to speak in public. Both of them came in for criticism for stepping outside of women’s proper roles.
Angelina was the first woman to speak to a state legislature in 1838 when she addressed a committee of the Massachusetts legislature. Because they felt their voices were limited on account of being women, the sisters became suffragists as they saw how women were not treated equally.
After the Civil War, when African American men could vote, the sisters always went to the polls and cast “fake” ballots in a women’s box.
In the 1850’s they found out their father had 3 sons by a mixed race woman. The sisters paid for 2 of them to go to Harvard and Howard. One went to Princeton Theological Seminary and was the minister of the 15th St. Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. for 40 years. The other worked for civil rights, helped found the NAACP in 1909 and in 1914 became the NAACP President in Washington D.C.
Their journey is well documented as they wrote pamphlets, books and many letters. Our library has a biography of them which we recommend. There is a new biography coming out this spring, too.
Meditations on the Grimké Sisters
In March 2019, the services at UUCS focused on the lives of Sarah and Angelina Grimké. The meditations may be heard here:
“Your Sister’s Eyes” (March 3, 2019): https://uucs.org/services/your-sisters-eyes/
“Intellect” (March 10, 2019): https://uucs.org/services/intellect/
“Two Voices” (March 17, 2019): https://uucs.org/services/two-voices/
“Peace that Creates Justice” (March 24, 2019): https://uucs.org/services/peace-that-creates-justice/
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