History is a comfort in times of doubt.
October 10, 2017 9:24 AM   Subscribe

Kaitlyn Greenedge and her sisters take a road trip. "The art historian Moyo Okediji notes that in Yoruban concepts of history, the community must assure children that they are not physically alone and that a series of road maps exists, made by great and talented ancestors who as individuals have beaten a track for succeeding generations. That is why history is a comfort to me, in times of doubt. And this is, of course, why the past is a battleground."

- Prudence Crandall
"I said in my heart, here are my convictions. What shall I do? Shall I be inactive and permit prejudice, the mother of abominations, to remain undisturbed? Or shall I venture to enlist in the ranks of those who with the Sword of Truth dare hold combat with prevailing iniquity? I contemplated for a while the manner in which I might best serve the people of color. As wealth was not mine, I saw no other means of benefiting them, than by imparting to those of my own sex that were anxious to learn, all the instruction I might be able to give, however small the amount."
- From Canterbury to Little Rock

- Students at Prudence Crandall's School for African American Women (pdf, 1.83 mb) (includes Sarah Harris)

- The Royall House: Interpreting a New England Plantation
The Royalls were the largest slaveholding family in Massachusetts, and continued to purchase and sell individuals. When Isaac Royall Sr. died in 1739, his son and namesake inherited the family home and fortune—including the enslaved Africans. While those in bondage in Massachusetts produced wool, cider, and hay, and cared for the house and its white inhabitants, Isaac Royall Jr. enjoyed the fruits of their compelled labor. He used his wealth and leisure to become a leading citizen, serving as a member of the Governor’s Council, moderator of Medford’s Town Meeting, and an Overseer of Harvard College... When Royall died in England in 1781, his will revealed his plans for the enslaved Africans he still held in Massachusetts, including a woman known as Belinda Sutton, enslaved in Ghana at the age of twelve and now in her sixties. Royall’s will offered her the choice of continued enslavement, in the household of his daughter, or freedom, “provided that she get Security that she shall not be a charge to the town of Medford.” Belinda chose freedom.
- Belinda Sutton and her petitions

- Belinda's Petition, by Rita Dove
To the honorable Senate and House
of Representatives of this Country,
new born: I am Belinda, an African,
since the age of twelve a Slave.
I will not take too much of your Time,
but to plead and place my pitiable Life
unto the Fathers of this Nation.

- Ellen Garrison Jackson
I have a great desire to go and labor among the Freedmen of the South. I think it is our duty as a people to spend our lives trying to elevate our own race… Who can feel for us if we do not feel for ourselves? And who can feel the sympathy that we can who are identified with them?
– Ellen Garrison Jackson
Letter to the American Missionary Association, 1863
posted by ChuraChura (4 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
That 1783 Petition is incredible, thanks for sharing this!
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:15 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]

That sounds like an amazing group of women on a very well planned trip. I'd love to recreate my weeks-long family road trips (my mom would make us stop at every historical road marker that mentioned the IWW or any other labor group), but I doubt my parents would be up for that kind of travel anymore.

That's also a great pull quote from Moyo. He's a wonderful art and diaspora historian; glad to see him cited anywhere, but this is a particularly good fit.
posted by stirred for a bird at 10:54 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]

Excellent post.
posted by shoesietart at 11:15 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]

(Kaitlyn Greenidge also wrote a really incredible book, We Love You, Charlie Freeman, which manages to talk about family, race, science, signing chimpanzees, and history all at once. Highly recommended!!!)
posted by ChuraChura at 1:24 PM on October 10

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