Charles Lenox Remond was born into an elite free Black family in Salem, Massachusetts. His parents, John and Nancy Lenox Remond, had been married by the Rev. Thomas Paul, a prominent African American minister and anti-slavery activist, in 1807. Nancy Lenox’s father was a veteran of the American Revolution, having fought with the Continental Army. John Remond had emigrated from the Dutch colony of Curacao as a young boy in 1798. In Salem, John Remond was first a barber and, then, with the assistance of his wife, he operated a successful catering business. The Remonds were also active abolitionists. John became a life-long member of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Association.
Charles, the eldest Remond child, began his career as a public speaker on behalf of the antislavery movement at the age of seventeen. A supporter of William Lloyd Garrison, in 1832, Remond began work as an agent for The Liberator, and later, the Weekly Advocate and the Colored American. He travelled throughout New England delivering antislavery lectures and drumming up financial support for abolitionist publications. In 1840, Remond gave a lecture at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London, where he was greeted by repeated applause. After he returned to the United States sixteen months later, Remond suffered discriminatory Jim Crow practices. In 1842, he was the first African American to address the Massachusetts state legislature to protest racial discrimination on railroads and steamboats. Remond had a close relationship with his sister Sarah Parker Remond, who also enjoyed a successful career as an abolitionist speaker. During the 1850s, they often travelled together on the lecture circuit.
During the Civil War, Remond joined other black abolitionist men, including Frederick Douglass, in the recruitment of African American soldiers into the all-black Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth Regiment of the Union Army, led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, a member of a prominent white abolitionist family from Boston.
After the war, Remond