English III Honors Per. 2
May 3, 2012
Angelina Emily Weld Grimke Angelina Grimke was an African American writer of poems, short stories, and plays. Much of her work focused on the restrictive lives of African American and women --- especially lesbian women of the early 20th century. She was the niece of the great Angelina Grimke of the reformer era (1830), who had fought for abolitionism. The younger Grimke appalled at the restrictions and injustices experienced by blacks, used her talents to denounce social injustice on the stage and in fiction. Grimke’s passion for justice became obvious in her extreme views on how African Americans should go about reforming their lives. Born into a famed interracial family, Angelina Emily Weld Grimke was born on February 27, 1880. Born as an only child to white women, Sarah E. Stanley and a Mulatto former slave, Archibald Grimke, she suffered life of discrimination and sexual orientation. Grimke is often confused by readers with her great-aunt, Angelina Weld Grimke, whom she was named after. Her aunt was a fighter for abolition and women rights. Five years after her birth, her mother shipped her off to live with her father, and she never saw her mother again. With her father being a lawyer and a diplomat, he educated her at several of schools in Massachusetts and Minnesota. Grimke earned a degree in physical education at Boston Normal School of Gymnastics in 1902. She began he career at Armstrong Manual Training School in Washington D.C., but transferred to a better academic M School High School, where she taught English. Grimke only studied gymnastics because she found it “attractive because it provided sublimated contact with women” (Angelina). Her lesbian tone is possibly the reason why little of her work was published. On June 10, 1958, Grimke died alone in her New York Apartment. She received an obituary on her teaching, instead of her writing by the New York Times. In 1916, Grimke wrote and presented her famous play, Rachel, which expressed her concern for society’s racial issues. The theater avoided Rachel for most of the twentieth century because of its extreme stand on racial issues, which are still experienced today. When a person says
“ colored person” to a white man, “ he immediately, either through an ignorance that is deliberate or stupid, conjures up in his mind the picture of what he calls ‘the darkey’”( Grimke). She believed that all colored people are carefree and under all circumstances amusing people. The play Rachel is about a young, caring girl who comes face to face with the meaning of motherhood. Rachel falls in love with a white man named John Strong, but she can’t be with him because of their different skin tones. John is the only man that she loves and is dying to be with him and produce children. The lesson in the story is to try to show Rachel the true meaning of “Motherhood”, which she learns from a little black girl and her adopted son named Jimmy. Rachel and Jimmy become very close; to the point she is even feeding him her breast milk. All of the sudden John shows up to her house to propose to her, but the sounds of Jimmy weeping reminds her of the promise she made to God. She realizes she cannot leave Jimmy alone, so she denies John’s proposal. The play end off with John standing outside with a broken heart and the sounds of Jimmy tears. “Since it has been understood that Rachel preaches race suicide, I would emphasize that that was not my intention. To the contrary, the appeal is not primarily to the colored people, but to the whites” (Grimke). The critic is basically stating that the play is portraying race injustices but it’s actually about white men falling in love with colored people, but they had to hide their feelings because of the society’s ways. Grimke lived a life of racial discrimination because she was the product of an interracial marriage of her parents.