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Black Anti-Slavery Crusaders

There were a host of free Blacks who struck out against slavery. Many of these were

ex-slaves and free-born Blacks. This desire to place one's live in danger to help

those of one's people who are suffering, exemplifies well the tenets of Black

Nationalism. The Convention of free Blacks in 1817 who met at Philadelphia's

Bethel AME Church declared, "Resolved, that we never will separate ourselves

voluntarily from the slave population in this country; they are our brethren by the

ties of consanguinity, of suffering, and of wrong; and we feel that there is more

virtue in suffering privatations with them, than fancied advantage for a season." The

free-born Black, David Walker, published the famous Walker's Appeal in 1829

demanding that Blacks everywhere take up arms against slavery. He stated,

"Look upon your children and answer God Almighty; and believe this, that it is no

more harm for you to kill a man, who is trying to kill you, than it is for you to take

a drink of water when thirsty." Walker's message, though aimed specifically at

those Blacks in America, held a distinct Pan-Africanist approach as it called out to

the "Coloured Citizens of the World:" Blacks in Africa, South America, and the

West Indies. Henry Highland Garnet was another such freedom fighter. In 1843

he called for a general slave revolt, urging slaves to act for themselves. He stated

fervently, "Hear the cries of your poor children! Remember the stripes your father

bore. Think of your wretched sisters, loving virtue and purity, as they are driven

into concubinage and are exposed to the unbridled lusts of incarnate devils. Think

of the undying glory that hangs around the...name of Africa..." Perhaps one of the

most well known of these free Blacks was Harriet Tubman. Born into slavery in

Maryland, she ran away from home at the age of twenty-five. Though free,

Tubman never forgot her enslaved sisters and brothers to the South. More than

nineteen times she returned as a thief in the night and stole more than three

hundred slaves to freedom. When one slave declined her offer of freedom, it was

said she forced him free by gunpoint. Over the years she remained a painful thorn

in the side of Southern slaveholders who offered a reward of $40,000 for her

capture; she was never caught.

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