First African American Woman to Lecture in Public

Maria Stewart was an essayist, lecturer, abolitionist and women's rights activist. She was the earliest known American woman to lecture in public on political issues. Stewart is known for four powerful speeches she delivered in Boston in the early 1830s - a time when no woman, black or white, dared to address an audience from a public platform.

Image Credit: Breena Clarke Books

Childhood and Early Years
She was born free …

African American Abolitionist and Women's Rights Activist

Sojourner Truth was a nationally known feminist and social reformer. During the Civil War, she helped recruit black soldiers for the Union Army. After the war, she tried to secure land grants from the federal government for former slaves, a project she pursued for seven years, meeting with President Ulysses S. Grant to discuss the subject.

Image: Sojourner Truth Monument
Florence, Massachusetts
Truth lived in Florence (a village of Northampton) from …Read More...

Abolitionist, Educator and Suffragist in the Civil War Era

Mary Ann Shadd (1823–1893) was an anti-slavery activist, journalist, teacher and lawyer. She was the first black woman newspaper publisher in North America and the first woman publisher in Canada. Shadd was one of the most outspoken and articulate female proponents of the abolition of slavery of her day. She promoted equality for all people and taught former slaves how to be self reliant.

Image: Mary Ann Shadd Bust
BME …

African American Spy During the Civil War

Mary Elizabeth Bowser was a freed slave who worked with Elizabeth Van Lew as a Union spy in Richmond, Virginia during the Civil War. Van Lew sent Bowser to the Quaker School for Negroes in Philadelphia in the late 1850s. After graduating, she returned to Richmond, where

Early Years
Mary Elizabeth Bowser was born a slave on the plantation of John Van Lew, a wealthy hardware merchant in Richmond, Virginia. The …Read More...