Monday, Nov 14, 2022 6:00p -

Boston Public Library: Rabb Lecture Hall
700 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116

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History, Lectures & Conferences, Social Good

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Hear from award-winning historian Kerri K. Greenidge about her new book, The Grimkes: The Legacy of Slavery in an American Family, a landmark biography of the most important multiracial American family of the nineteenth century—a stunning counternarrative of the legendary abolitionist Grimke sisters that reclaims the forgotten Black members of their family. For in-person attendees, the program will conclude with an author signing facilitated Posman Books. Copies may also be ordered online via Porter Square Books at this link.

To register for in-person attendance, please visit this Eventbrite link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/author-talk-with-kerri-k-greenidge-the-grimkes-tickets-421402344757.

To register for online attendance, please visit this Zoom webinar registration page: https://boston-public-library.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_kpounxpaSia78MxY7LNoSQ.

About the book

Sarah and Angelina Grimke—the Grimke sisters—are revered figures in American history, famous for rejecting their privileged lives on a plantation in South Carolina to become firebrand activists in the North. Their antislavery pamphlets, among the most influential of the antebellum era, are still read today. Yet retellings of their epic story have long obscured their Black relatives. In The Grimkes, award-winning historian Kerri Greenidge presents a parallel narrative, indeed a long-overdue corrective, shifting the focus from the white abolitionist sisters to the Black Grimkes and deepening our understanding of the long struggle for racial and gender equality.

That the Grimke sisters had Black relatives in the first place was a consequence of slavery’s most horrific reality. Sarah and Angelina’s older brother, Henry, was notoriously violent and sadistic, and one of the women he owned, Nancy Weston, bore him three sons: Archibald, Francis, and John. While Greenidge follows the brothers’ trials and exploits in the North, where Archibald and Francis became prominent members of the post–Civil War Black elite, her narrative centers on the Black women of the family, from Weston to Francis’s wife, the brilliant intellectual and reformer Charlotte Forten, to Archibald’s daughter, Angelina Weld Grimke, who channeled the family’s past into pathbreaking modernist literature during the Harlem Renaissance.

In a grand saga that spans the eighteenth century to the twentieth and stretches from Charleston to Philadelphia, Boston, and beyond, Greenidge reclaims the Black Grimkes as complex, often conflicted individuals shadowed by their origins. Most strikingly, she indicts the white Grimke sisters for their racial paternalism. They could envision the end of slavery, but they could not imagine Black equality: when their Black nephews did not adhere to the image of the kneeling and eternally grateful slave, they were cruel and relentlessly judgmental—an emblem of the limits of progressive white racial politics.

A landmark biography of the most important multiracial American family of the nineteenth century, The Grimkes suggests that just as the Hemingses and Jeffersons personified the racial myths of the founding generation, the Grimkes embodied the legacy—both traumatic and generative—of those myths, which reverberate to this day.

About the author

Kerri K. Greenidge is a historian at Tufts University and the author of Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter, winner of the 2020 Mark Lynton History Prize, among other honors.

This program at the Boston Public Library is part of the American Inspiration Series from American Ancestors/NEHGS and presented in partnership with the GBH Forum Network.

About the BPL's COVID-19 health and safety protocols:

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14/11/2022 18:00:00 14/11/2022 19:00:00 America/New_York Kerri K. Greenidge — The Grimkes: The Legacy of Slavery in an American Family <p>Hear from award-winning historian<strong>&nbsp;Kerri K. Greenidge</strong>&nbsp;about her new book,&nbsp;<strong><em>The Grimkes: The Legacy of Slavery in an American Family</em></strong>, a lan... Boston Public Library: Rabb Lecture Hall, Boston, MA 02116 false DD/MM/YYYY