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The Story of Mary Ellen Pleasant, the Abolitionist and Self-Made Millionaire That Lost it All

It’s important that our historical Black figures are remembered and uplifted for the work they’ve done, even if they aren’t deemed household names. Many may be unaware of who Mary Ellen Pleasant is, but her story is both remarkable and admirable in African American history. As told by CNBC , Mary Ellen Pleasant was a self-made Black entrepreneur who built a fortune that was used to aid abolitionist causes in the United States and help slaves escape to freedom via the Underground Railroad. The New York Times reported that her legacy was compared to that of Harriet Tubman’s by civil rights activist and author W. E. B. Du Bois in his 1924 book titled “The Gift of Black Folk” – describing Pleasant as “quite a different kind of woman and yet strangely effective and influential.” Pleasant was born in 1814 on a Georgia plantation and separated from her parents at a young age, sent off to work as a servant in Massachusetts. It was there that she learned to read, write and work in a shop....

Njera Perkins

Mar 30, 2020