Thursday, February 1, 2018
William Wells Brown - Fugitive slave, Renaissance Man, Free man
Well, it's that time again. Yep! It's BLACK HISTORY MONTH! How generous. Oh my. A whole month. The shortest, coldest one at that. It's a time when certain folks think all this stuff is made up, or plain just don't give a rat's ass about any of it.
But I digress.
So, to kick off the celebration of my skinfolk surviving over 400 years in this place (my Grandfather used to say that we were "prisoners of war." LOL.Granddad wasn't know for his subtlety.), let me start with an man who had been a slave. After escaping bondage, and through sheer power of will, William Wells Brown, not only became free but a writer and a playwright.
He settled in Boston after fleeing chattel slavery on a Missouri steamboat. He was educated by Quakers and had established a life, with a wife and kids, but still was a fugitive. With the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, a vicious little piece of "law" that could be enforced against runaway "property" no matter to where said "property'" had fled, (free state be damned!), Brown sailed to Europe until some White acquaintances could buy his freedom.. While abroad he created books and plays. His best known work is Clotel. or The President's Daughter. The plot of the narrative follows the trials and tribulations of one of good, ole boy Tommy Jefferson's daughters by one of his slaves. I do not know if was one of the daughters he had with Sally Hemings. If not, that means old TJ loved sneaking off to the slave quarters on the regular.
I any case, Brown lived a full life in Europe and came back to the States in 1854 a free man. He taught and studied and even became a physician too. Talk about a Renaissance Man.
Read more about William Wells Brown at:
Also this day in 1902, poet Langston Hughes was born.