Category: Activists

Frances Wright: “Beyond the Pale of Respectability”(Scottish-American 1795-1892)

Frances Wright was one of the earliest feminist speakers to travel around the United States, speaking on behalf of the rights of women between 1828-1829. She was radical for her time and her voice rings true today. She was anti-slavery, pro-labor unions and pro-free public education as well. She was vilified by the public and according to Miriam Schneir in her book, Feminism: The Essential Historical Writings, to be called a “Fanny Wrightist” was to “be placed beyond the pale of respectability”(18). I guess that means she was pretty #Nasty.   She was born in Scotland and grew up...

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Angelina Grimké: Digging up the Weed of Racism by the Roots Out of Each of Our Hearts (American 1805-1879)

On February 21, 1838 when Angelina Grimké gave a speech before the state house in Boston, Massachusetts, many already knew her name and had heard her speak. But this was a first: “Until this, no American woman had ever spoken to a legislative body. Women did not vote nor stand for office and had no influence in political affairs. They received inferior elementary schooling and were, with the exception of recently opened Oberlin College, excluded from all institutions of higher learning. No church, except the Quakers, permitted women any voice in church affairs or in the ministry. The belief...

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Sofie Scholl: “Wake up! Resist! Sabotage!” German (1921-1943)

“Isn’t it mysterious—and frightening, too, when one doesn’t know the reason—that everything should be so beautiful in spite of the terrible things that are happening? My sheer delight in all things beautiful has been invaded by a great unknown, an inkling of the creator whom his creatures glorify with their beauty—That’s why man alone can be ugly, because he has the free will to disassociate himself from this song of praise” (HWR 276). Sofie Scholl in a letter 1942 Her bust now stands in Valhalla, the hall of Great Germans, one of the very few women selected for this...

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Esclarmonde of Foix the Great: Pope of the Heretics, French (1151– 1215) Original painting and text by Karin Peschau

Countess Zebella Trencavel of Carcassone and her husband Roger Bernard, the count of Foix, gave their daughter an Occitan name, “Light of the world.” In a period when women were often despised, and treated as mere possession, Esclarmonde was a shining light, both for the enlightenment of human beings and for the condition of women – the issue she was most deeply involved with. At her parents’ court in Foix, the esoteric and romantic culture of troubadour love was lived and practiced. Esclarmonde married the Lord of L’Isle Jourdain, with whom she had six children. When, in 1200 AD, she...

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Sojourner Truth: A Wandering Orator, American (c. 1797-1883) Original painting and text by Karin Peschau

Her face speaks to us about the chains of slavery, about the iron chains of the slaves in America, about the invisible chains, but still heart-breaking unjustness and cruelty of our modern, globalized civilization: an enormous part of the world’s population, women, men and children, is working itself to death in order to make an easy and comfortable life possible for the other part. The pain in this woman’s face is our pain as well. Sojourner Truth was born into slavery as Isabella (Belle) about 1797. Her mother, known as “Mau-Mau Bett” had 11 children with James Baumfree. Sojourner Truth...

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