because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Lucretia Mott

When Lucretia Mott graduated from school and began her own teaching career, she was fine until she realized that men teachers were being paid three times as much as women teachers (such as herself). And then she wasn't fine anymore.

As a Quaker, she wasn't fine with slavery either. In fact, she refused to use cotton cloth, cane sugar or anything else produced by slave labor. And she helped to found the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society with both Black and White members, an uncommon thing to do before the Civil War.

She was also known to speak before Black congregations and, again, this was far from common practice at a time when women speaking in public at all was deemed by many -- even many Quakers -- as against Bible teaching, let alone the audience was made up of both men and women (called "promiscuous" by those with the power to define). So Mott got as many attacks as she got support, but she kept on keepin' on anyway. On one occasion, when a crowd of nearly twenty thousand threatened violence against a group of women Mott had organized to discuss boycotting slave-produced goods, Mott (at barely five feet tall and weighing less than one hundred pounds) had each Black woman leave the hall and walk to safety arm in arm with a White woman.

When a General Anti-Slavery Convention was convened in London, England, in 1840, Mott and the other women delegates were forced to sit in a separate area, segregated from the men. Despite this fact, however, one reporter still called her "the Lioness of the Convention." She advocated for world peace, racial justice, women's rights, and compassion for the poor and imprisoned. And in 1848, when she met at Seneca Falls, New York, with other women to talk about women's rights, they signed a Declaration stating, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal," and further demanding "all the rights and privileges which belong to [women] as citizens of the United States." One can only wonder what an in-your-face woman like Lucretia Mott would think of the fact that, more than one hundred fifty years later, we're still waiting.

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