Tag Archives: William Lloyd Garrison

Black History Month 2014: David Walker

11 Feb
David Walker's Appeal

David Walker’s Appeal

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to David Walker, abolitionist and voice for social justice. Walker is believed to have been born in 1796 and died in 1830.  During  his short life of 33 years, Walker left an indelible mark in history and left an amazing legacy of tireless efforts towards equity and equality for African Americans.

Walker’s mother was a free black, and thus Walker was also born a “free black.”  Although he grew up in North Carolina, after witnessing the atrocities black people were subjected to, he moved to Boston in 1825.  He worked as a sales agent and writer for Freedom’s Journal, published in New York, the first newspaper owned and operated by African Americans. This experience honed his writing voice and created an enthusiasm for activism in the black community.

Walker is probably best known for his pamphlet An Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World. Viewed as radical in its day, it called for direct action within the African American community to oppose slavery. He called on all African Americans to resist oppression and strive for personal responsibility. He argued that free blacks must work toward abolition as a political goal and pursue more comprehensive education. While appreciative of the early white abolitionist voices, he argued that relying on a return of liberty strictly from the people who had restricted it was unreasonable. Walker created organized resistance to the false and racist rhetoric that President Jefferson published regarding the “inferiority of blacks.”  Granted, Jefferson was a complex and contradictory human being, who did support the abolitionist movement.

Walker’s Appeal was so powerful and influential that another one of my heroes, William Lloyd Garrison extracted much of Walker’s message in his publication The Liberator.  Many of you may recognize Garrison’s name, for he was also a suffragist.  I take great solace in knowing that Walker’s work lived on and informed so many activist and abolitionists.

Women’s History: February 20

20 Feb

Angelina Grimke: Abolitionist/Suffragist

Happy Birthday, Angelina Grimke. Although Angelina and her sister Sarah were born into a slave holding family, the sisters did not share the same aberrant views as their father, a judge in South Carolina. Grimke escaped and joined the Society of Friends. In 1835, Grimke was dissatisfied with the pace at which her Quaker society was moving to fight slavery, so she joined forces with William Lloyd Garrison. It was Garrison that published Grimke’s letter about  issues of abolitionism and mob violence, in The Liberator. Of course, Grimke is probably best known for her pamphlet, An Appeal to the Christian Women of the South. In this open letter, Grimke tries to appeal to Christian women to become part of the abolitionist movement. Not a big surprise, the pamphlet was burned in the state of South Carolina, current home of Rep. Jim DeMint, who would still uphold Dred Scott if he could. I often worry that the Grimke Sisters are overlooked and under appreciated.

Celebrating Black History Month: February 14

14 Feb

Honoring Dr. Kington

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Raynard Kington. Kington is the first African-American President of Grinnell College. He also happens to be openly gay. Click here to see the wonderful introduction to Dr. Kington at Grinnell College. The video is bound to bring a tear to your eye. He and his husband, Peter T. Daniolos, have two children. Dr. Kington is the great grandson of slaves. He does a lovely job of acknowledging his husband, while shushing his son during his speech. It was also nice to see him tip his hat to the late William Lloyd Garrison. Dr. Kington earned his B.S. from the University of Michigan at age 19 and earned his M.D. at age 21.  Prior to joining Grinnell, Dr. Kington served as deputy director of the National Institutes of Health. Grinnell is quite fortunate to have secured the talents of Dr. Kington.  Thank you to my friend Jay for suggesting this story.

Women’s History: February 11

11 Feb

Abolitionist, Suffragist, Native American Activist

Happy Birthday, Lydia Maria Child. In addition to being known for journals and fiction, Child was best known for her activism as an abolitionist, Native American activist, and early suffragist. Her most famous poem was, Over the River and Through the Woods. In her novel, Hobomok, which described life in early America, she was a radical. In this novel, she portrays Native Americans (then called Indians) as heroes. She did not suffer from the ignorance or bigotry of her time. I imagine tackling the issues of a white male power structure at her time, did not make her very popular. Her personal connection to William Lloyd Garrison influenced her enthusiastic activism as an abolitionist. While she was passionate about the suffragist movement, she felt the right to vote for women would never happen before blacks were emancipated. She studied John Locke’s philosophy with Margaret Fuller, another journalist and women’s rights activist.

February 11, 1911, Jeannette Rankin became the first woman to address the Montana Legislature, speaking for woman suffrage.

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