Today is a very wonderful day in history that I feel needs to be celebrated. Ann Wager was the Founding Head of School “Mistress” of the Bray School in Williamsburg, VA. The Bray School was created “for the Instruction of Negro Children in the Principles of the Christian Religion.” Wager opened the school on September 27, 1760, before the United States existed and before the Abolitionist Movement had a strong foundation.
During her 14 years at the Bray School, Wager taught over 30 enslaved and free black children. Wager died in 1774, just two years before the colonies declared their independence from England.
I also have to tip my hat here to one of my heroes, Prudence Crandall. Crandall was also a “Mistress” of a school that firmly believed in educating students regardless of race. Upon admitting 17-year-old African-American to her girls’ school, the white families pulled their daughters. Crandall, a Quaker, was not deterred. She kept her school open and decided she would have a school exclusively for black girls.
Of course, America, not exactly known for our progressive views, imprisoned Crandall in July of 1883, after the state of Connecticut instated “The Black Law” prohibiting black students from going to school, without a town or state’s permission. Let’s hear it for women like Wager and Crandall who did the right thing regardless of the personal risk. I am honored to have as a friend, Patty Crone, who continues to fight for racial equality and civil rights in education. We need more champions like this today.