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Kimberly A. Sisson

poet, clubwoman, and political activist, was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, the daughter of Mary Evans and Joshua T. Williams, whose occupation is now unknown. In 1870 the family moved to Columbus, Ohio, where Mary Evans opened a successful wig-making business that operated for over twenty years. Carrie Williams attended the first integrated school in Columbus; whether she pursued higher education is unknown, however it is known that during the 1880s she taught in Parkersburg, West Virginia.

In 1886, at the age of twenty-four, she married William H. Clifford, a two-term Republican state representative from Cleveland. They would have two sons. As part of the black middle class in Cleveland, Clifford and her husband socialized with other important black figures such as Charles W. Chesnutt and George A. Meyers. Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois made frequent appearances in Cleveland joining the Cliffords ...


Erin D. Somerville

Englishpoet, philanthropist, and early voice of the abolition movement. Day was born in London and educated at Oxford, where he became influenced by the philosophy of Jean‐Jacques Rousseau. In 1773 he came across a newspaper account of the death of a slave who had committed suicide to save himself from a return to plantation labour. The story inspired Day and his friend John Bicknell to produce The Dying Negro (1773).

This long poem is written as a slave's suicide note to his future wife and can be read as a response to the previous year's Mansfield decision, which declared that no slave could be legally forced to return to labour against his or her wishes. The Dying Negro oscillates between a first hand account of slavery and comment on the slavery system The poem was a popular early vehicle for the abolition movement and ...


Greer C. Bosworth

prohibitionist, voting rights activist, civil rights activist, writer, and poet, was born Naomi Bowman in Michigan City, Indiana, as one of three children of Elijah and Guilly Ann Bowman. The Bowmans were free blacks and natives of Ohio. Naomi was raised in Indiana with her parents and siblings. The segregated public schools in Michigan City would not admit black children, so her parents hired a private teacher. At a very early age, Naomi developed a talent for writing poetry. At the age of twelve, she was admitted to a previously all-white public school. There is some indication that when the white parents in the Michigan City community recognized her talents for writing poetry they agreed to admit her to the public school. Unfortunately, after her mother's death in 1860 Naomi s father decided that further education would not be necessary for his daughters ...