Cover image for Lift up thy voice : the Grimké family's journey from slaveholders to civil rights leaders
Lift up thy voice : the Grimké family's journey from slaveholders to civil rights leaders
Perry, Mark, 1950-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, 2001.
Physical Description:
xxiii, 406 pages ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E185.98.A1 P47 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
E185.98.A1 P47 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
E185.98.A1 P47 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
E185.98.A1 P47 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ
E185.98.A1 P47 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Biography

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THE STORY OF RACE CONSCIOUSNESS AND POLITICS IN AMERICA TOLD THROUGH THE LIVES OF ONE EXTRAORDINARY FAMILYBy the beginning of the 19th century, the American south encompassed two strikingly different societies: one lived as wealthy slaveholders, and the other lived under the lash. Daughters of a prominent slaveholding family in Charleston, South Carolina, Sarah and Angelina GrimkÉ, vowed to change the dynamics of their harsh society. The sisters (mostly in secret) began to educate their slaves as best they could, by teaching them reading and religion-and the basic rights to which all humans are entitled. Eventually they moved to the north, where they dedicated their lives to abolitionism and advocacy of women's rights.In 1868, Angelina and Sarah discovered that their deceased brother had had children with a slave. True to their ideals, the GrimkÉ sisters invited their nephews into their lives, helped educate them, and gave them the means to start a new life. Archibald and Francis GrimkÉ continued their aunts' fight for racial equality into the early decades of the 20th century, involving themselves in the founding of the NAACP and becoming two of the most notable African-Americans of their time. The GrimkÉs' work helped to lay the groundwork of the civil rights movement to follow-and, as Perry notes, helped to shape many kinds of American social activism.At once an inspiring social history and a fascinating group biography, LIFT UP THY VOICE: The GrimkÉ Family's Journey from Slaveholders to Civil Rights Leaders illustrates how the question of race dominates American history. This family saga, which spans 150 years, is a book for anyone interested in women's history, African-American history, the Civil War-for anyone who cares about making America a better place to live.

Author Notes

Mark Perry's books include Conceived in Liberty , a main selection of the History Book Club. An award-winning writer, he has written on history, the Middle East conflict, and American foreign policy for numerous magazines and newspapers.


"Mark Perry...has made their dual biography the basis for an ambitious book, a history of the North and South from before the war to the end of Reconstruction. That he succeeds so well is remarkable."
- The New York Times Book Review

"A thoughtful, moving, and wonderfully readable account of two valiant men, the war that brought them together, and the ideologies that ultimately kept them apart."
- Cleveland Plain Dealer

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Sarah and Angelina Grimkewere privileged white women from a powerful South Carolina slaveholding family who led the antislavery movement. Their nephews Archibald and Francis Grimkewere former slaves who took the struggle into the twentieth century as the focus shifted to equal rights. Perry offers the fascinating family history of the Grimkes and the quintessential American racial pathologies that most slaveholders would have denied but which the Grimkes faced head-on. The sisters were part of America's nascent reform period when the woman suffrage movement intersected with the huge moral issue of slavery. The two women helped shift emphasis beyond antislavery to full equality for blacks and women. Using letters, speeches, diaries, and sermons, Perry presents the personalities of messianic figures during a period of great religious and social foment as political pragmatists clashed with moral idealists. An absorbing look at America's seminal reform movement and the fascinating family that led the struggle. --Vanessa Bush

Publisher's Weekly Review

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 Grimk?, 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 Grimk?, 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 Grimk?s' 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. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved