Olympia Brown: Preacher and Suffragist

- Simpkins, Daphne
Olympia Brown’s daughter wrote of her mother: “She was not popular. She was indomitable and uncompromising…. She cared little for society, paid no deference to wealth, represented an unfashionable church and promoted a cause regarded as certain to be unsuccessful.” That cause was the right to vote for women. Brown joined Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone in that work in 1866. Brown’s resolute political activism emerged from her own struggle to become a minister at a time when women were not typically allowed a public voice inside a church. Deemed by some as “hopelessly unsaved,” Brown attended seminary and then accepted preaching positions at humble churches no man would accept. A famously petite woman with a big voice, Olympia Brown said in her final 1920 address after 72 years of preaching and campaigning for women to have a voice in the church and politics: “….We can never make the world safe for democracy by fighting…We can establish a league of peace only by teaching the nations the great lesson of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.” Brown preached justice and peace until 1926, when she died at 91.

The speaker prefers a lapel microphone but is comfortable at a podium, as well.