Monday, October 7, 2013

Angelina Grimke – An Inspiration in the 21st Century

Tonight the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus is proud to be a supporter of How Women Become Political, celebrating the 175th anniversary of Angelina Grimke’s speech to the Massachusetts State Legislature when she became the first woman to address a legislative body.
Angelina Grimke was an advocate for women and girls throughout her life. She fought for women’s rights and the rights of slaves by traveling around the Northeast, lecturing mainly about the abolition of slavery.
She came to the Massachusetts State Legislature in 1838 on behalf of 20,000 petitioners, mostly women, to address the need for Congress to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, which would be a huge step towards abolishing slavery in all states. She began her speech however, by making her case to speak. She was the first woman to ever address a legislative body in America, mainly because women could not hold office or vote, but also because it was a commonly held belief that women did not belong in the “public sphere.” Angelina Grimke, like Queen Esther of Babylon to use her own example, used her speaking position to advocate for another group of people who did not have a voice in government.
Her speech is still relevant today. Women and girls in the United States and around the world are facing backlash for wanting to enter into traditionally male dominated fields. While women can now vote and are allowed to hold office, the number of female elected officials is staggeringly low compared to their male peers. Girls are constantly told their duties as they grow up will be to raise a family and be a mom, while boys and men are encouraged to pursue the professional fields.
The MWPC works to encourage women of all political backgrounds to run for office in order to better represent the women and girls of our state. Angelina Grimke continues to inspire us and we are proud to be supporting this event in her honor!