LIFT UP THY VOICE: The Grimké Family's Journey from Slaveholders to Civil Rights Leaders

Mark Perry, Author . Viking $27.95 (512p) ISBN 978-0-670-03011-8

Tracing the mid-19th-century life stories of two sisters and two brothers—"four extraordinary individuals"—Perry (Conceived in Liberty) guides the reader along the passage from slavery to emancipation to equality. The sisters are Sarah and Angelina Grimké, daughters of a white, wealthy South Carolina planter (and slaveholder). They were brazen enough to reject their state's, family's and class's pro-slavery traditions, becoming two of the most prominent and famous champions of abolition. The brothers in this story are their nephews, black men, Archibald and Francis Grimké, born in slavery and equally bold, eventually continuing their aunts' work into the 1930s and transforming the crusade against slavery into a battle for equal rights, thus establishing the foundation for the civil rights movement. From Sarah's birth in 1792 to Francis's death in 1937, Perry recounts their histories. A chronology, brief sketches of the major characters and a thorough bibliography supplement the text. The historical background is deftly handled; while clarifying policies (the Missouri Compromise, the "gag rule"), people (William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois), organizations (the American Anti-Slavery Society, the NAACP) and ideas (educational reform, spiritualism), Perry never loses sight of his primary subjects. The Grimkés' personal struggles (the sisters' search for religious fulfillment, the brothers' pursuit of political satisfaction) and their public and published works (Sarah's, as one of America's first feminists, and Francis's, as the first black leader to question Booker T. Washington's views) hold the center to make this book eminently readable. (Oct.)

Forecast:This accessible history does not expect readers to have a sophisticated familiarity with the subject. Conceived in Liberty was a main selection of the History Book Club; this book will have an even wider audience.

Reviewed on: 09/24/2001
Release date: 10/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-14-200103-5
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