Prudence Crandall

Prudence Crandall

Prudence Crandall

(1803-1890) opened an academy on the Canterbury Green in 1831 to educate daughters of wealthy local families. The school was extremely successful until the following fall when she admitted Sarah Harris, a 20-year-old black woman. Sarah had hoped to become a teacher with the help of the education the academy could provide. Reflecting the attitudes of the times, Sarah’s admittance to the academy led parents to withdraw their daughters.

Miss Crandall made contacts throughout the northeast’s free black communities to attract young black women students. They came from as far away as Boston, New York City and Philadelphia. The state responded by passing the “Black Law” which made it illegal for Crandall to operate her school.  Continue reading

The Pittsburgh Courier

Four boys outside Courier

Four boys outside Courier

The Pittsburgh Courier was established in 1907 by Edwin Harleston, a security guard and writer. The newspaper gained fame after Robert Lee Vann took over the paper in 1910 and eventually became the nations most widely circulated black newspaper at almost 200,000.

The Courier was always an organ for the wellbeing of the average African-American. It would call for housing improvements and the opening of black hospitals. The Pittsburgh Courier also sought to improve the black peoples’ financial and political skills.  Continue reading

Anna Maria Weems

Maria Weems escaping in male attire.

Weems escaping in male attire

According to Underground Rail Road records, Anna Maria Weems disguised her gender and used several male aliases in order to escape her plight and acquire freedom. At the time of her escape, she was a “bright mulatto, well-grown, smart and good-looking” fifteen year old girl. Her family members, including her mother, have been sold before she turned thirteen. Because her owners feared that she would escape, they made her sleep in their chamber in order to prevent her from doing so. Finally she had the means to escape with the help of the Underground Railroad. William Still describes her escape in “The Underground Railroad” (1870):  Continue reading

John James Neimore

In 1879, John James Neimore established The CaJohn James Neimorelifornia Owl as a means to help ease the black settlers’ transition to the western way of life. The Eagle provided many disparaged settlers with job, housing, and information on local charities.

When The California Eagle shut down its presses in 1964, it was one of the oldest black-owned and operated papers in the United States. John James Neimore had established it in Los Angeles as The California Owl in 1879, to ease black settlers’ transition to the West. The paper provided them with housing and job information, and other information essential to surviving in a new environment.  Continue reading

Annie Onieta Plummer

The Dictionary Lady

In 1992, Annie Onieta Plummernoticed that children on their way to school in her Savannah, Georgia, neighborhood were not carrying books. With $50, she bought thirty dictionaries and handed them out to children on the street corner. In each book, she wrote the motto of the United Negro College Fund, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

When others heard of her idea, they began sending her money so she could expand the project. She also sold t-shirts to raise more money. By 1996, she had given dictionaries to more than 17,000 children, by 1999, nearly 35,000. Annie Plummer was one of 12 children. She dropped out of school to have a baby and her first job was as a maid. She managed to find time to become involved in community affairs and is an example to us all of how anybody can have a good idea to help people.

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