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Mason I. Lowance

Henry Bibb is best known through his Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave, which was first published by Bibb himself in 1849. While Frederick Douglass gained credibility through his assertion of authorship and by way of the introductions composed for his narrative by William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips, Bibb enjoyed no such reception and was forced to subvene the publication of his own story. The narrative is rich in detail, including an account of Bibb's use of “conjuring” to avoid punishment for running away, and the use of “charms” to court his slave wife. Bibb also gives eloquent testimony to the conditions and the culture of slavery in Kentucky and the South. John Blassingame describes it as “one of the most reliable of the slave autobiographies,” and it firmly established Bibb, together with Douglass and Josiah Henson as one ...

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Heidi L. Scott Giusto

Henry Walter Bibb was born a slave on the plantation of David White in Shelby County, Kentucky. His father, James Bibb, was a slaveholding planter and state senator; his mother, Mildred Jackson, was a slave. By 1825 Bibb began what he referred to as his “maroonage,” or scheming of short-term escape. Excessively cruel treatment by several different masters engendered this habit. Bibb's life lacked stability; the slave's owner began hiring him out at a young age, and between 1832 and 1840 he would be sold more than six times and would relocate to at least seven southern states.

In 1833 Bibb met and fell in love with Malinda, a slave who lived four miles away in Oldham County, Kentucky. After determining that they had similar values regarding religion and possible flight, the two pledged honor to one another and considered themselves married in December 1834 Approximately one year later ...

Article

The son of a Kentucky plantation slave and a state senator, Henry Walton Bibb was born a slave in Kentucky. His repeated attempts to escape bondage were successful in 1842 when he fled to Detroit, Michigan. By then his first wife, whom he married in 1833 and with whom he had a daughter, had been sold again. Bibb turned his energies to abolitionism.

In 1850 Bibb published his autobiography, Narrative of the Life and Adventures of an American Slave. That same year Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Laws, which forced him and his second wife to flee to Canada. A leader of the African American community there, Bibb founded the first black newspaper in Canada, Voice of the Fugitive, in 1851.

See also Abolitionism in the United States; Slave Narratives.

Article

Gregory S. Jackson

author, editor, and antislavery lecturer, was born into slavery on the plantation of David White of Shelby County, Kentucky, the son of James Bibb, a slaveholding planter and state senator, and Mildred Jackson. White began hiring Bibb out as a laborer on several neighboring plantations before he had reached the age of ten. The constant change in living situations throughout his childhood, combined with the inhumane treatment he often received at the hands of strangers, set a pattern for life that he would later refer to in his autobiography as “my manner of living on the road.” Bibb was sold more than six times between 1832 and 1840 and was forced to relocate to at least seven states throughout the South later as a free man his campaign for abolition took him throughout eastern Canada and the northern United States But such early instability also made the ...

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David Dabydeen

African‐Americanabolitionist and fugitive slave who toured Britain. Brown was born on a plantation in Kentucky, the son of a slave woman and a white man. After 20 years of enslavement, he escaped on New Year's Day 1834. His personal experience of slavery compelled an active fight against the system in the United States, which eventually led to his journey to Europe. In August 1849 he travelled to Paris as the American Peace Society s delegate to the International Peace Congress Subsequently Brown began a lecture tour of Britain enjoying the relative freedom which he lacked in the racially tense United States Using England as his base he ventured to the rest of Europe speaking passionately about the cruelties of slavery In London he chaired a meeting of fugitive American slaves and drafted for the meeting an Appeal to the People of Great Britain and the World His ...

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William L. Andrews

William Wells Brown is generally regarded as the first African American to achieve distinction as a writer of belles lettres. A famous antislavery lecturer and fugitive slave narrator in the 1840s, Brown turned to a variety of genres, including poetry, fiction, travel writing, and history, to help him dramatize his case against slavery while promoting sympathetic and heroic images of African Americans in both the United States and England.

William Wells Brown was born sometime in 1814 on a plantation near Lexington, Kentucky, the son of a white man and a slave woman. Light-complexioned and quick-witted, Brown spent his first twenty years mainly in St. Louis, Missouri, and its vicinity, working as a house servant, a fieldhand, a tavernkeeper's assistant, a printer's helper, an assistant in a medical office, and finally a handyman for James Walker a Missouri slave trader with whom Brown claimed to have made ...

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R. J. M. Blackett

Brown, William Wells (1814?–06 November 1884), author and reformer, was born near Lexington, Kentucky, the son of George Higgins, a relative of his master, and Elizabeth, a slave. Dr. John Young, Brown’s master, migrated with his family from Kentucky to the Missouri Territory in 1816. Eleven years later the Youngs moved to St. Louis. Although Brown never experienced the hardship of plantation slavery, he was hired out regularly and separated from his family. He worked for a while in the printing office of abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy’s St. Louis Times He was also hired out to a slave trader who took coffles of slaves down the Mississippi River for sale in New Orleans Brown s task was to prepare the slaves for sale making sure that they all appeared to be in good health Among other things that meant dyeing the hair of the older slaves ...

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Lisa Clayton Robinson

Scholars have called William Wells Brown the first African American to achieve distinction in belles lettres, or literature. As a writer Brown's career is made up of “firsts”: he is considered the first African American to publish works in several literary genres. Brown was also known for his political activism, particularly in the antislavery movement, and political themes underscored his writing throughout his career.

Brown was born on a plantation outside Lexington, Kentucky, to a white father and a slave mother. He spent most of his childhood and young adulthood as a slave in St. Louis, Missouri, working at a variety of trades, and even traveling to New Orleans, Louisiana, three times as a handyman to a slave trader. Brown became free on New Year's Day 1834, when he was able to slip away from his owners' steamboat while it was docked in Cincinnati in the ...

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Alice Knox Eaton

slave narrator, novelist, playwright, historian, and abolitionist leader, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of a slave mother, Elizabeth, and George Higgins, the white half-brother of Brown's first master, Dr. John Young. As a slave, William was spared the hard labor of his master's plantation, unlike his mother and half-siblings, because of his close blood relation to the slave-holding family, but as a house servant he was constantly abused by Mrs. Young. When the family removed to a farm outside St. Louis, Missouri, William was hired out in various capacities, including physician's assistant, servant in a public house, and waiter on a steamship. William's “best master” in slavery was Elijah P. Lovejoy, publisher of the St. Louis Times, where he was hired out in the printing office in 1830 Lovejoy was an antislavery editor who would be murdered seven years later for refusing ...

Article

Penny Anne Welbourne

William Wells Brown was the son of Elizabeth, a slave on a plantation near Lexington, Kentucky. Because of his mother's status, William was also a slave, even though his father was the white half brother of the plantation's owner. While William was still an infant, his master, Dr. John Young, acquired a farm in Missouri, and the boy and his mother were taken there. At the age of eight, William worked as an assistant in Young's medical practice, where he continued to work until he was twelve. At that point the doctor was elected to the state legislature, and the young slave was forced to work in the fields.

Because Young was frequently in need of money he would lease William to other masters many of whom had overseers who beat and humiliated the young man One who did treat him well was Elijah P Lovejoy who published a ...

Article

Chuck D  

Alice Knox Eaton

rapper, educator, and music entrepreneur, was born Carlton Douglas Ridenhour in Queens, New York, to Lorenzo and Judy Ridenhour, both political activists. Lorenzo worked as a warehouse manager before starting his own trucking company at age forty. Ridenhour's home was full of the sounds of jazz and R&B, and he grew up with an acute awareness of the political events of the 1960s as they unfolded: the murder of Medgar Evers, the 1963 March on Washington, and the assassinations of the Kennedys, Black Panther leaders, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. The family, including his sister Lisa and brother Erik, moved from predominantly black Queensbridge to another largely black community in Roosevelt, Long Island, when Ridenhour was eleven. He spent the summers of 1970 and 1971 attending programs at Adelphi and Hofstra universities on the African American experience further shaping his early sense of the ...

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Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born in East Orange, New Jersey, the eldest of the two children of Jetta Clark and Dr. Joe Louis Clark. The Clarks lived in Newark, a short distance from her birthplace, until moving to South Orange after the 1967 riots. Her father, who served as the principal of Eastside High School, in Paterson, New Jersey, gained national attention for enforcing discipline and improving academic achievement at Eastside, one of the state’s toughest inner-city schools, and became the subject of the 1989 film Lean on Me, in which the award-winning actor Morgan Freeman portrayed him.

Clark performed with the Alvin Ailey Junior Dance Company until the age of fourteen, when she began to participate in track, concentrating on the half-mile (880 yards), the distance at which her father excelled at William Patterson University (then known as the Paterson State Teachers College) in Wayne, New Jersey. Interviewed for the Best ...

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Gregory S. Jackson

Lewis G. Clarke was born into slavery on the plantation of his maternal grandfather, Samuel Campbell, in Madison County, Kentucky, the son of Campbell's mixed-race slave daughter Letitia and her white, Scottish-immigrant husband, Daniel Clarke, a soldier in the American Revolution. Lewis Clarke's middle name is variously recorded as either George or Garrand. Clarke's family history, which he traced back to the founding of the nation, inspired his quest for freedom and his subsequent dedication to the abolition cause in the North.

Clarke's first six years were spent with his parents and nine siblings and were the only family life and childhood he experienced. Betsey Campbell Banton one of Samuel Campbell s daughters and Clarke s maternal aunt whom he likened to a female Nero claimed Clarke by right of dowry taking him from his parents to her home in Lexington Kentucky Clarke saw his family only ...

Article

Gregory S. Jackson

author and antislavery lecturer, was born into slavery on the plantation of his maternal grandfather, Samuel (some sources say William) Campbell, in Madison County, Kentucky. He was the son of Campbell's mixed-race slave daughter Letitia and her white Scottish-immigrant husband, Daniel Clarke, a soldier in the American Revolution. Lewis Clarke's middle name is variously recorded as either George or Garrand. Clarke's family history, which he traced back to the founding of the nation, inspired his quest for freedom and his subsequent dedication to the abolition cause in the North.

Clarke's first six years were spent with his parents and nine siblings and were the only family life and childhood he experienced. Betsey Campbell Banton one of Campbell s white daughters and Clarke s maternal aunt whom he likened to a female Nero claimed Clarke by right of dowry taking him from his parents to her home in Lexington ...

Article

William Seraile

Craft, William (1824–28 January 1900), runaway slave and abolitionist lecturer, was born in Georgia, where he was a slave for the first twenty-four years of his life. In 1841 his owner, also named Craft, mortgaged William and his sister Sarah to a Macon bank. Later, when the slaveholder could not make the payments, the bank sold the slaves at an auction. Craft’s new owner permitted him to hire himself out as a carpenter, and Craft was allowed to keep earnings over $220 annually. In 1846 William married Ellen ( Ellen Craft the daughter of a slave named Maria and her owner James Smith Two years later William and Ellen planned their escape from slavery Ellen informed her mistress that she needed a few days to be with her dying mother who lived twelve miles from Macon and William begged his owner for permission to accompany his ...

Article

Michele Valerie Ronnick

He was the son of David Henry Ferris (c. 1847–?) and Sara Jefferson Alexander Ferris (11 October 1847– May 1923) and the brother of Mabel Irene Ferris Williams (?–6 October 1924). His father was a Civil War veteran having joined Company E of the 20th Regiment of the US Colored Troops on 20 March 1865 when he was eighteen years old in New York. After studying at the Dixwell Avenue Grammar School, the Shelton Avenue and Gregory Street schools in New Haven, the thirteen-year-old Ferris entered the oldest public school in New Haven, the James Hillhouse School, and while there organized the De Yancey Guards, a colored boys’ militia group, which marched in New Haven’s Memorial Day Parade on 30 May 1888. After graduating from Hillhouse, he matriculated at Yale University in 1891 and earned his B.A. in 1895 having studied philosophy English ...

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Steven J. Niven

educator and nonprofit executive, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of William Foster and Ruth (Alexander) Foster, who were both missionaries in the Bahá’í faith. He was named after Badí’ (1852–1869), an important early Persian Bahá’í martyr whose Arabic name translates as “wonderfulness” in English. That William Foster was African American while Ruth Foster was white would have made their marriage illegal in most American states, though not Illinois, at the time their son was born. The couple met in the 1930s in Chicago through their common interest in radical, left-wing politics and gravitated toward the pluralistic Bahá’í faith, which teaches the unity of humankind and promotes racial and gender equality.

Badi Foster was raised on Chicago's South Side, where he was a Boy Scout patrol leader, enjoyed singing doo-wop, and earned extra money by selling Jet magazine When he was eleven Foster moved with his ...

Article

Anthony A. Lee

Badi Foster was born in Chicago to an interracial Baha'i family. His father (William) was black, and his mother (Ruth) was white. When Badi (which means “wonderful” in Arabic and is the name of a celebrated Baha'i martyr) was eleven, his parents moved to Morocco as pioneers (missionaries) for the Baha'i religion. He spent his adolescence in that country, learning French and Arabic. He attended the American School in Casablanca to the eighth grade, and then transferred to the American School of Tangiers where he completed his high school education in 1960.

As a consequence of learning new languages and negotiating new cultures Foster discovered that although Morocco had its own structures of inequality and oppression American notions of race were unknown there He explains that as a boy therefore he was vaccinated against racism never internalizing ideas or racial inferiority and gaining important insights even as a teenager ...

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William L. Andrews

Jacob D. Green was born a slave in Queen Anne's County, Maryland, and during his boyhood served as a house servant on a large plantation owned by Judge Charles Earle. When he was twelve years old his mother was sold; he never saw her again. He began thinking of escape while a teenager but did not attempt it because religious teachings convinced him that running away from his master would be a sinful act. When his wife was sold away from him in 1839, however, Green made the first of three escape attempts, the last of which took him from Kentucky to Toronto, Canada, in 1848 and soon thereafter to England. Working as an antislavery lecturer, Green published his forty-three page Narrative of the Life of J. D. Green, a Runaway Slave in England in 1864. According to its title page, eight thousand copies of Green's Narrative were ...

Article

Julia Sun-Joo Lee

slave and antislavery lecturer, was born in Queen Anne's County, Maryland. The names of his parents are unknown, but he is recorded as the property of Judge Charles Earle. In Narrative of the Life of J. D. Green, a Runaway Slave, from Kentucky (1864), Green recounts that as a child he was employed as an errand boy, a cowherd, and a houseboy. When he was about twelve years old, his mother was sold to a trader named Woodfork. Green never saw her again.

As a teenager Green began to attend a black church. He was taught to defer to white men and to accept abuse without retaliation. Green witnessed the brutal flogging of slaves and was himself flogged by his master for disobedience. At age seventeen Green fell in love with a young woman named Mary who was owned by Dr. Tillotson a neighboring slave ...