Sarah Parker Remond

Lecturer for the American Anti-Slavery Society Sarah Parker Remond was an African American abolitionist, doctor and lecturer for the American Anti-Slavery Society. She delivered speeches throughout the United States on the horrors of slavery. Because of her eloquence, she was chosen to travel to England to gather support for the abolitionist cause in the United States. Sarah Parker Remond was born in 1826 in Salem, Massachusetts, one of eight children. Her mother Nancy was the daughter of a man who fought in the Continental Army. Her father John was a free black who arrived from the Dutch island of Curacao as a boy of ten. The Remonds built a successful catering and hairdressing business in Salem. Sarah received a limited…

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Amanda Smith

African American Evangelist and Missionary Amanda Berry Smith, a preacher and missionary, was a former slave who became an inspiration to thousands of women both black and white. During a forty-five-year missionary career of arduous travel on four continents, this self-educated former slave and washerwoman became a highly visible and well-respected leader despite intense opposition to women in public ministry, a crescendo of white racist violence and the tightening grip of segregation. Childhood Amanda Berry was born in born a slave at Long Green, Maryland on January 23, 1837. Her father, a slave, worked for years at night and after long days of field labor, he made brooms and husk mats to earn enough money to buy the freedom of…

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Lucy Delaney

Writer and Slave Who Won Her Freedom in Court Lucy Ann Delaney (1830–1891) was an African American author, former slave and activist, notable for her 1891 slave narrative, From the Darkness Cometh the Light, or, Struggles for Freedom. The memoir tells of her mother’s legal battles in St. Louis, Missouri for her own and her daughter’s freedom from slavery. Their cases were two of 301 freedom suits filed in St. Louis from 1814-1860. Edward Bates, the future US Attorney General under President Abraham Lincoln, argued Lucy’s case in court and won. Childhood and Early Years Lucy Ann Berry was born a slave in St. Louis, Missouri in 1830. Lucy’s mother Polly Berry had been born free in Illinois, but was…

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Solomon Northup

Solomon Northup was a free Black who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. I will allow him to tell parts of the story from his memoir that was published in 1853. Though the language – his or the editor’s – is stilted, it was the writing style of the times. Please excuse my cobbling together quotes that aren’t necessarily in succession, because I don’t want to interrupt the flow of the story. Solomon was born in 1808 in Minerva, New York. His father had been a slave, but had been freed upon the death of his master. As a boy, Solomon worked on his father’s farm, and spent his free time reading and learning to play the violin. In 1829,…

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Sojourner Truth

African American Abolitionist and Women’s Rights Activist Sojourner Truth was a nationally known feminist and social reformer. During the Civil War, she helped recruit black soldiers for the Union Army. After the war, she tried to secure land grants from the federal government for former slaves, a project she pursued for seven years, meeting with President Ulysses S. Grant to discuss the subject. Image: Sojourner Truth Monument Florence, Massachusetts Truth lived in Florence (a village of Northampton) from 1843-1857. She came to Florence to join the Northampton Association of Education and Industry, a utopian community dedicated to equality and justice. After the Association disbanded, she remained in Florence, bought her first home, dictated her autobiography to Olive Gilbert and became…

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Lily Ann Granderson

Union troops occupied Natchez, Mississippi in the summer of 1863. Soon thereafter, missionaries from the northern states came to establish schools for the slaves. They were surprised to learn that one such school already existed and had been educating slaves for years. The teacher was Lily Ann Granderson, and she was a slave as well. Knowledge of her background is far from complete. Lily Ann was born a slave in Virginia in 1816. Her grandmother was a free woman of Native American heritage. After her death, Lily’s mother was enslaved at the age of three. At some point, Lily was moved to Kentucky. She worked as a house slave, and her master’s children taught her to read and write. After…

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Mary Ann Shadd

Abolitionist, Educator and Suffragist in the Civil War Era Mary Ann Shadd Bust BME Freedom Park Chatham, Ontario Mary Ann Shadd (1823–1893) was an anti-slavery activist, journalist, teacher and lawyer. She was the first black woman newspaper publisher in North America and the first woman publisher in Canada. Shadd was one of the most outspoken and articulate female proponents of the abolition of slavery of her day. She promoted equality for all people and taught former slaves how to be self reliant. Early Years Mary Ann Shadd was born October 9, 1823 in Wilmington, Delaware, the eldest of 13 children of Abraham and Harriett Shadd, both free-born blacks. Her father was active in the Underground Railroad and a subscription agent…

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Mary Elizabeth Bowser

African American Spy During the Civil War Mary Elizabeth Bowser was a freed slave who worked with Elizabeth Van Lew as a Union spy in Richmond, Virginia during the Civil War. Van Lew sent Bowser to the Quaker School for Negroes in Philadelphia in the late 1850s. After graduating, she returned to Richmond, where Early Years Mary Elizabeth Bowser was born a slave on the plantation of John Van Lew, a wealthy hardware merchant in Richmond, Virginia. The exact time of her birth is uncertain, but believed to be about 1840. After Mr. Van Lew died in 1851, his daughter, Elizabeth, a staunch abolitionist, freed all of their slaves. Mary Elizabeth remained in the Van Lew household after she was…

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