One of the earliest and most famous rural cemeteries in America is Green-Wood, founded in 1838. It's grandiose park-like setting is scattered with myriad burial sites and architectural masterpieces. But, we learned in our interviews with Green-Wood staff members that there is an area of the cemetery called the Freedom Lots that interred African Americans with amazing stories to discover in this episode.
Historians call it the "largest freedom suit West of the Mississippi" -- the day in 1856 when 14 enslaved women and children gained their freedom in Southern California. This story, however, starts at the very beginning. This episode will follow the life struggles endured by African American pioneer slaves and midwifes, Biddy and her friend Hannah on their tortuous journey from the American South to the West.
If you are from Los Angeles, you may have heard of Biddy Mason, who purchased properties in Downtown Los Angeles in the late-1800s. But did you know that, by the time she died in 1891, she accumulated over $300,000 in wealth, (almost $8.5 million in today’s dollars), was a tireless philanthropist, and integral in building up the African American community, having established FAME Church in her home in 1872.
Although you may have heard of Madam C.J. Walker, the African American woman and self-made millionaire who revolutionized hair care for black Americans during the early 1900s, did you know that she moved her headquarters to a thriving Black area in Indianapolis, IN?
Both Madam C.J. Walker and her lawyer, Ransom Freeman lived and worked near the main Black area in town --- Indiana Avenue. In this episode, we spoke with local Black residents about this and other Black neighborhoods that have incredible histories that need to be heard!
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