Resurrecting RACHEL: The Grimké Legacy — AAPEX

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Resurrecting RACHEL: The Grimké Legacy

This is RACHEL or MOTHERHOOD by Angelina Grimké - the first play by an African American woman to hit the American stage, commissioned and produced by the NAACP in 1916. 

RACHEL was written at a time when many African Americans, such as Ida B. Wells, were penning literature that railed with anguish against lynchings. 

Though commissioned and produced by the NAACP, RACHEL caused an immediate furor in the organization. 

Angelina's namesake was her great aunt, the white daughter of a Charleston, SC plantation owner, Angelina Grimké Weld, who, with her sister Sarah, fled the South to become a legendary abolitionist. Her story is currently on PBS in a documentary entitled THE ABOLITIONISTS. 

Angelina and Sarah had a brother, Henry, who had three sons by one of his father's slaves. 

Two of these sons, Archibald and Francis, also left the South to pursue educations in the North. When the aunts discovered that they had two mixed-race nephews, they stepped up to pay for their studies. Francis became a renowned preacher and Archibald had an amazing political career that included serving as the U.S. Consul to the Dominican Republic from 1894 -1898 and sitting for years as the national vice-president of the NAACP. 

Out of this amazing story comes a new play, THE CARELESSNESS OF LOVE, by NYU professor and president of The Black Theatre Network, Michael Dinwiddie. A reading is underway for March in NYC - follow us on the Spiral Theatre Studio blog at

1 comment:

  1. Actually, Pauline Hopkins' Peculiar Sam or The Underground Railroad was produced and performed 35 years before this play (albeit a musical) it was still by an African American woman making Grimke not the first to be produced on the American stage.