Thursday, February 13, 2020

Overheard at the Counter: Mary Ellen Pleasant

Nikki says, "Today let's learn about Mary Ellen Pleasant, a 19th Century activist.  May have been born free, may have been born a slave, worked as a bondservant to an abolitionist family in Massachussetts.   Married a wealthy landowner and together they worked on the Underground Railroad. 

"After the Civil War, Mary Ellen sued a streetcar company for not allowing blacks on it and another for promoting segregation - that's 100 years BEFORE Rosa Parks!

"What's interesting though, is that no matter all her strides in promoting abolitionism and equality, the later years of her life were tough financially, because her husband had died and then her male financier died.  Then her critics labelled her 'Mammy' and started accusing her of voodoo, and she died in poverty in 1904.

"Just another case of how being female is the toughest thing to be in this world.   The more I read the more this theme keeps coming up over and over and over again ... all these strong black woman who have done so much, and I can't help thinking that if they had only been MEN, then they would have been able to do even more."

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