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Martin Delany

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Martin R. Delany was born in 1812 in Charleston. At nineteen years, Martin moved out to seek new opportunities in his life and that made him walk more than 150 miles to get to Pittsburg in the early 1831 so as to be part of the African Educational Society School which was then under Reverend Lewis Woodson. It was at this point that Delany developed interest to salvage the black race as he served as a protégé of Woodson. Woodson was in the forefront in fostering nationalist sentiment for the blacks. On arriving in the city, a wealthy abolitionist by the name John Vashon accommodated Delany. Subsequently, Delany came up with the Theban Literary Society. This was a club that was meant for young Blacks who desired to debate and study (Delany, 1993).

After the establishment of the Philanthropic Society, Delany came together with John Peck, Woodson, Vashon, and others to help save slaves to freedom. This group with the support of Rev. Charles Avery ended up being the most prominent antislavery agents in then County of Allegheny. Delany together with his colleagues also joined hands to restore the suffrage of Blacks in Pennsylvania. This right had earlier been denied in 1838. His dreams to peruse medicine were shuttered when students from where he had enrolled in Harvard medical school protested because of race thus he had to return to Pittsburg. Here he continued with his medicine practices (Delany, 1993).

It is while is Pittsburgh that he founded ‘The Mystery’. This was an abolitionist newspaper that was published weekly making it the first Black newspaper ever to be published to the west of Alleghenies. The paper covered political, economic and social concerns of the Black people in America. Delany then managed to secure agents from nine different states, most of which were his fellow abolitionists. He used this agent to solicit subscriptions. Despite Delany valiant efforts, lack of enough subscriptions made the paper to fold in 1847. In the same year, Delany partnered with Fredrick Douglas to be a coeditor of another abolitionist newspaper by the name ‘The North Star’ (Rollins, 1996).

When the congress enacted the Fugitive Slave Act, Delany took the initiative of calling it to action in late 1853. His aim was to come up with a Black nation that was separate and successful from the United States. One year later, the National Emigration Convention met for the first time in Ohio, with 106 delegates coming from 11diffrent states. By 1856, Delany had moved to Canada but this did not stop him from committing himself to promoting emigration and abolition. He did this by travelling frequently between the United States and Canada. Delany stood firm against the colonization that was led by the White that attempted to drive the Blacks back to Africa but was in full support of the Black-organized emigration. In 1859, Delany was the leader of a mission party that headed to West Africa crossing the Niger Delta in an effort to come up with a proper location incase of a Black emigration (Rollins, 1996).

The Civil War in America reawakened Delany’s dreams to have 4 million Blacks in America in bondage.  He joined the US army and went up the ranks to become the major. He played a great role in recruiting Black soldiers and later became the first Black officer to receive President Abraham Lincoln’s commissioning.  During the war time, Delany asked for help from the Freedman Bureau so as to offer adequate working and living conditions for the freed Blacks. Delany is the author of several works, including ‘The Huts of America’, ‘Blake’ and ‘The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States’ (Delany, 1993).

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