“Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” — Carter G. Woodson
Travel and a busy work week preempted my plan to post a Black History Month story about Black Philanthropy and Philanthropists every day. So…to catch up, here are nine (since my last post was Feb 2) names and stories that are among my favorite.
Each of these biographies is powerful, informative and inspirational. Which one do you find most inspiring?
Catherine Ferguson, who founded a school for child laborers in NYC
Catherine Ferguson (1779–1854), former slave, who despite being illiterate became a pioneering educator and philanthropist in New York and founded a school in the early 1800s.
William Leidesdorff (1810–48), a San Francisco’s most prominent early Black citizen and businessman, who became one of the wealthiest man in California.
Lucy Gonzales Parsons (1853-1942),a Black Mexican American, likely born a slave, who became a great orator and activist on class struggles around poverty and unemployment.
Madam CJ Walker (1867–1919), entrepreneur and social activist noted for charitable contributions to black institutions, including the single largest gift made by an African American woman to the Indianapolis YMCA building fund)
“Whereas our ancestors (not of choice) were the first successful cultivators of the wilds of America, we their descendants feel ourselves entitled to participate in the blessings of her luxuriant soil.”— Richard Allen
As a descendent of Africans on America’s “luxuriant soil,” I relish celebrating and honoring my ancestors—their struggles, courage, achievements and imprint on our country’s history. In celebration of Black History Month, each day in February I’ll post a short story or other info about history makers, pathfinders and do-gooders in the realm of African American philanthropy.
Today, we honor Richard Allen (1760–1831), a minister, educator and writer, and the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Allen also was co-founder in 1787 of the Free African Society, which represents an early form of collective giving. His selfless deeds during the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 well as his formidable role in founding of the Black church, place him among the early framers of American philanthropy (as I talked about here).