THE FIGHT FOR BLACK MOBILITY: TRAVELING TO MID-CENTURY CONVENTIONS

SARAH PARKER REMOND

Black and white portrait photograph of Sarah Parker Remond.

Portrait of Sarah Parker Remond, photographer unknown, c. 1865, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem MA.

Born in Salem, Massachusetts, to John and Nancy Remond, Sarah Parker Remond (1826-1894) was an active anti-slavery speaker.1 She was raised in a progressive upper-middle-class household and therefore, exposed to anti-slavery views from an early age, her brother Charles having begun his speaking tours while she was still a child.2 Throughout her early adolescence, she attended numerous anti-slavery speeches, eventually launching a career as a lecturer in 1857.3 A free-thinker, she strongly supported women’s rights, particularly education and professional training.

As such, the aims of the Colored Convention of 1855, which her brother attended, were extremely important to Sarah and her family. As a child, Sarah was refused admittance to the Salem Public School, despite passing the entrance exam.4 This event compelled her family to briefly relocate to Rhode Island in order to provide for her education, and motivated her father to campaign for the desegregation of Salem schools.5 Education was hence, highly valued by her family. However, while many of her siblings went into business trades like catering or hairdressing, Sarah Remond chose to work as a lecturer.6 Throughout her career, she developed connections with well-known figures like Frederick Douglass and Ellen Craft, as well as, women’s rights speaker Susan B. Anthony.7 As an orator, Sarah Remond sought to make the concerns of Black women heard.8 She also promoted civil rights, particularly the desegregation of public spaces.9

Like her brother, Sarah’s initial American speaking circuit served as a stepping-stone to transnational networking. In 1858, she travelled to England to garner support for the abolitionist cause in cities like Bristol, Manchester, and Liverpool.10 During this period, she raised money for the anti-slavery cause and encouraged British support for the Union. After the Civil War, she traveled to Florence, Italy, where she earned a medical degree, and married. She was later joined abroad by her two sisters.11 She died in 1894 and was buried in Rome.12 Sarah Parker Remond remains an iconic figure within abolitionist narratives and in recent years had received considerable attention from scholars interested in gender studies.

Credits

Amelia Chaney, English 634, Spring 2013. Taught by Professor P. Gabrielle Foreman, University of Delaware.

Edited by Samantha de Vera, University of Delaware.

References

  1. “Sarah Remond (1826-1894).” National Women’s History Museum. Accessed 18 March, 2013. Link
  2. Peterson, Carla L. “Doers of the Word”: African-American Women Speakers & Writers in the North (1830-1880). New York: Oxford UP, 1995: 135.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Sarah Parker Remond.” Masshumanities.org. Accessed 17 March, 2013. Link
  5. Ibid.
  6. The Remonds were very successful in several trades including hairdressing and catering. As the 1870 census indicates Sarah’s sister Marticha worked as a hairdresser, while her father who had several professions throughout his lifetime, lists his occupation as “a dealer in wines.” Salem Ward 1, Essex, Massachusetts:498A Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Web. 17 March, 2013.
  7. “Sarah Remond (1826-1894).” National Women’s History Museum. Accessed 15 Sept. 2014. Link
  8. Zackodnik, Teresa C. “‘White Slaves’ and Tragic Mulattas: The anti-slavery appeals of Ellen Craft and Sarah Parker Remond.” Mulatta and the Politics of Race. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2004: 42-74. Print.
  9. Before she became a speaker, Sarah Parker Remond successfully sued Henry Palmer, an opera agent and Charles P. Philbrick, a police officer for physical assault on her person and won damages in 1853. She was attacked while attempting to take a seat in the “white” section at the Howard Athenaeum for a performance of Don Pasquale. In suing her attackers, she publically challenged the prejudicial treatment of free Blacks especially in public social spaces. “Welcome to Cascius M. Clay. An enthusiastic meeting was held.” The Liberator 13 May 1853. Accessible Archives. Web. 13 March, 2013. She was equally upset by racial prejudice against Blacks traveling aboard ships or and attempting to obtaining passports. For her account of such issues see the following. “Slavery Still at its Dirty work.” The Liberator 20 Jan. 1860. African-American Newspapers. Web 13, 2013. 
  10. While living in England, Remond stayed with William and Ellen Craft and networked with Mrs. P.A. Taylor, the honorary secretary of the Ladies London Emancipation Society as well as famous British political figures such as Lord Brougham. “From the London Anti-Slavery Advocates.” The Liberator 19 Nov. 1858. Accessible Archives. Web. 13 March, 2013. Zackodnik, Teresa C. “We must be up and doing”: A reader in Early African American Feminisms. Ontario, Canada: Broadview, 2010. “Miss Sarah P. Remond in Liverpool.” The Liberator18 Feb. 1859. African-American Newspapers. Accessed 13 March, 2013. “Miss Sarah Remond.”The Liberator 23 Sept. 1859. African-American Newspapers. Accessed 13 March, 2013.
  11. “Sarah Parker Remond.” Masshumanities.org. Accessed 17 March, 2013. Link
  12. “Sarah Remond.” National Women’s History Museum. Accessed 18 March, 2013. Link