“People from all over the country, even all over the world, made donations,” said Mayo.
Many gave, he said, because they had heard of Remond and knew something of her story.
She grew up in a large Salem family. Her father, John Remond, was a free man of color from the island of Curacao, and her mother a free black. Among many business ventures, her father ran a food service and catered many of the dinners at Hamilton Hall.
Her older brother, Charles Lenox Remond, was a noted abolitionist speaker.
Sarah Remond attended Salem schools, but wasn’t allowed to continue to the upper grades, Mayo said.
“From one account we have, Sarah and one of her sisters were actually in school and a vote had been taken to remove children of color,” he said. “She wrote later about being physically taken out of school and how humiliating it was.”
Sarah went to a private school in Rhode Island, while her father “mounted a successful campaign to integrate the Salem schools,” according to a profile of Remond by the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, which led the effort to get portraits of Remond and five other women in the Statehouse.
Remond made news in 1853 when she attended an opera in Boston and refused to sit in a segregated section. After being shoved down a set of stairs by a policeman, according to accounts, she sued and won $500 in damages.
Remond lectured for the American Anti-Slavery Society across the East and Midwest at a time when few women, especially black women, dared venture out on the speaking circuit. She later spoke in England, Scotland and Ireland, building support for the Union cause during the Civil War.
While in Britain, she attended Bedford College for Ladies (later part of the University of London), and made notable acquaintances, including several members of Parliament who sponsored her application to become a British subject.