Back in the 1980s I was a member of the Quaker Womens Group and helped to write and present the QWG Swarthmore lecture Bringing the Invisible into the Light at Yearly Meeting in Exeter in 1986. The fact that Quakers had sometimes fallen short in their testimony to equality was one of our themes and we encountered a very hostile reaction from some quarters for daring to question an accepted truth.
Fit for Freedom, not for Friendship and found it less than perfect. Although Quakers worked to right the wrongs of African Americans they were uncomfortable about living with them as equals or accepting them as full members of the Society of Friends. Black Friends were expected to take their place on the 'back benches' and had to fight for full acceptance as members.
In the same way lack of equality related to social class or educational differences was and perhaps still is an issue among Friends. When the Adult School movement was at its height among Quakers in the 19th and 20th centuries some of the working-class pupils wanted to be
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they were not accepting these people as equals.
I feel that it is important for Friends to recognise that we have failed to live up to our testimony to equality in the past and may be failing always to live up to this and other testimonies today. If we do not recognise this we run the risk of falling into the trap of self-righteousness. It is salutary to remember that Quakers are no more perfect than the rest of humanity and never have been.