September 3 ~  Matter of the Heart Joy of Stress

"Courage is not a matter of muscle, but a matter of the heart." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Image courtesy of the Prudence Crandall Museum
Image courtesy Prudence Crandall Museum

A woman of courage and heart, educator and human rights activist Prudence Crandall (1803-1890) was born on this day in Hopkinton, Rhode Island.

In 1831, with support from the community, she established a small private academy for girls in Canterbury, Connecticut. Community approval diminished a year later when Crandall allowed African American Sarah Harris to attend school there.

"I have put my hand to the plough and I will never, no never look back," Crandall said of her decision.

With the courage of conviction, Crandall persevered. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "When you have decided what you believe, what you feel must be done, have the courage to stand alone and be counted."

As white parents removed their students from the school, Crandall stood alone to be counted. She transformed the private school to one exclusively for blacks. In 1833, she was arrested for violating the "Black Law," which required local government permission for establishing a nonresident black school.

Crandall was eventually released on a technicality and continued to operate the school until a mob attacked the building on September 1834. Crandall was forced to close the Academy and leave town.

For the rest of her life Crandall continued to teach and devoted herself to women's rights. In 1838 Connecticut's Black Law was repealed. Ten years later, slavery there was abolished.

In 1868, the 14th Amendment guaranteed rights of citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States." With it, all African Americans became recognized citizens with full civil rights. Because of her valor and determination, in 1995, Crandall was named Connecticut's state heroine.

Poet Maya Angelou once said of courage: "One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."

Stay true to your courageous heart