Lucy Stanton

Lucy Stanton Day Sessions, I Shall Have Your Sympathy, If Your Judgment Refuses Me Your Support (1864)

Courtesy Papers of Ellen Lawson and Marlene D. Merrill, Oberlin College Archives

Lucy Stanton Education

Lucy Stanton was an American abolitionist and feminist and the first African-American woman to complete a four-year Ladies Literary Course from Oberlin College in 1850.

At Oberlin College, Stanton was very active in the Ladies’ Literary Society and was invited to speak at her graduation.

“A Plea for the Oppressed” the speech

The speech was entitled “A Plea for the Oppressed” which expressed her abolitionist sentiments. During her speech, she urged the audience, particularly women, to put themselves in the place of the enslaved, to join the abolitionist cause, and to ultimately end Slavery in the United States.

Her speech was immensely well-received, and reprinted in publications like “”The Oberlin Evangelist””, the Oberlin College school newspaper, and “”The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States Politically Considered””.

She stated “Slavery is the combination of all crimes. It is War. Those who rob their fellow-men of home, of liberty, of education, of life, are really at war against them as they cleft them down upon the bloody field.

“When I forget you, Oh my people, may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, and may my right hand forget her cunning! Dark hover the clouds. The Anti-Slavery pulse beats faintly. The right of suffrage is denied. The colored man is still crushed by the weight of oppression. He may possess talents of the highest order, yet for him is no path of fame or distinction opened. He can never hope to attain those privileges while his brethren remain enslaved. Since, therefore, the freedom of the slave and the gaining of our rights, social and political, are inseparably connected, let all the friends of humanity plead for those who may not plead their own cause… “(see for the entire speech.)

Lucy Stanton Day’s life was a testament to the many strong, resilient, and radical women that participated in the first wave of American feminism. Her passionate commitment to abolition especially connected her to her radical female predecessors, such as Angelina E. Grimké, who, as early as 1836, linked the abolition of slavery to the Christian duty of women.

Stanton’s End of Life Work

After the death of her mother in 1900, Stanton moved to Los Angeles. In 1904, with the assistance of black church and club women, she established the Sojourner Truth Industrial Club as a “safe refuge” for the hundreds of black working women migrating to the city. The club sought to promote the guidance and development of young African-American women.

Stanton died in Los Angeles, California, on February 18, 1910, at the age of 78