Charlotte Forten Park

Built on land reclaimed from the South River, this plot has historically been the site of many wharves and warehouses, but today, Salem’s newest park (2019) features an events plaza, river walk, and greenspace. The park was named in honor of Charlotte Forten Grimké, a leading social justice activist in the nineteenth century. Grimkéadvocated for equality for women and people of color, education for all, and for the end of slavery. Charlotte Forten(1837–1915)was born in Philadelphia to a free African-American family with a multi-generational history of abolitionism. In 1853, she came to Salem to attend a racially integrated girls’ school. She lived with the Remond family, known for their activity in the abolitionist and women’s suffrage movements. In 1856, she was the first African-American to attend the Salem Normal School, today Salem State University, to receive instruction in teaching. After graduating, she became the first African-American teacher in Salem Public Schools. During the Civil War, she traveled to the coast of South Carolina to teach formerly enslaved people. In addition to advocating for and enacting social justice, Grimké also was a poet and essayist.

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