About the Play
Myrtilla Miner Normal School, Washington D.C. (1916); Neighborhood Playhouse, New York (1917)
The 1920 edition is available as a free download from Google Books. Paper reprints are available from Nabu Press (2010) and HardPress Publishing (2012).
Rachel Loving loves children and longs to be a mother, but after seeing the devastating effects of racism on the children she cares for, and learning that her father and brother were lynched (her mother kept the cause of their death secret), she resolves never to marry or procreate. “Do you think I could stand it, when my own child, flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood, learned the same reason for weeping?” she asks her crushed suitor, Jimmy Strong, in the play’s devastating final moments.
Grimké wrote Rachel partially in response to the virulent racism of The Birth of a Nation; the play was first staged in NAACP anti-lynching rallies protesting the film. Grimké hoped that Rachel would educate audiences, particularly white audiences, about the devastating psychological effects of racism as well as the inhumanity of lynching. Published in 1920, the play did indeed have its desired educational effect. “There is a terrible tragic note throughout, which compels one to think, and if possible to lend aid to try and remove the prejudice against the colored race,” wrote the critic for the Buffalo Courier.
Scenes from the Play
About the Playwright
Angelina Weld Grimké (1880-1958) wrote poetry, short stories, and non-fiction as well as plays. She was named for her great-aunt, the abolitionist Angelina Grimké Weld. Angelina’s father, Archibald Grimké, was a Harvard-educated lawyer, author, editor, educator and Vice-President of the NAACP. Not much is known about her mother, Sarah Stanley Grimké, other than she scandalized her white family by marrying an African-American man. Sarah abandoned the family shortly after Angelina was born. Angel…
One Play at a Time Participating Universities
University of Souther California
Cal State University Northridge
University of Missouri
Stain Louis University
Eastern Nazarene College