Sarah Parker Remond was born in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1826. She died in Rome, Italy, in December of 1894. The decades between were filled with a life of activism, adventure, and personal achievement.
She was a daughter of Salem’s most prominent African American family of their day. Yet, when Sarah and one of her sisters finished primary school they were refused admission to the Salem secondary school because of their race.
The Family moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where the children attended a private school. John Remond and others initiated law suits to integrate the Salem school. When their case was won the family returned to Salem.
In 1853 Sarah and a party of friends, including the black historian, William C. Nell, purchased tickets by mail to the most popular opera in Boston, Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, performed at the Howard Athenaeum. When Remond refused to be redirected to the segregated section when the theater managers realized the group was black, she was shoved down a flight of stairs and injured. She sued the theater, winning $500 in damages; the theater was ordered by the court to integrate all seating.
Sarah Parker Remond became a speaker for the American Anti-Slavery Society. She agreed to travel to Great Britain on the eve of the Civil War to promote the cause of the Union and to argue against British sympathies for the Confederate South whose cotton supplied the many British mills. She lectured throughout England, Scotland and Ireland.
Determined to further her education, she also attended London’s Bedford College For Women. And after the War she went on to attend medical school at Santa Maria Nuova Hospital in Florence, Italy. She lived the remainder of her life in Italy.
Throughout, Remond was an international activist for human rights and women’s suffrage.
Sarah Parker Remond is buried in an unmarked grave at the Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome. A fund has been established to install a plaque there in her honor. Please have a look at our Donations, Please page and join us in establishing a memorial to this internationally significant 19th-century African American woman.
Be sure to see the website for the Sarah Parker Remond Plaque Project:
All donors will of course be invited to the unveiling celebration in Rome!