Black history month is upon us and I’ve decided to highlight the stories and people that feed my soul. The individuals spotlighted on my blog this month are exceptional and deserving of the flowers and applause. Join me on this ambitious journey to distribute flowers to those who can smell them and to honor those who are no longer with us.
Ellen Craft’s story truly inspires my relentless ambitions. I tell her story to anyone who will listen. Like Ellen and William, I feel determined to find a way even though that path is hazy.
Ellen was born a slave in Macon County, Georgia. She was mixed raced child of her master. The lady of the house was so disgusted with Ellen’s presence that she gave her away as a wedding gift to her daughter. Ellen was distraught, torn away from her family and all that she knew. She became a shell of herself at her new plantation. One day hope came in the form of love. Ellen met William who was just as captivated with the thought of freedom as her. The like minded couple married.
Ellen and William strategized freedom incessantly. Undoubtedly, like countless other slaves the thought of freedom kept them going. Time passed and so did their exit ideas. Finally something stuck. Ellen mixed race and fair would dress as a white man and her husband William would act as her slave. The idea was just as dangerous as it was brilliant. They planned over a period of time collecting materials, working out their story, and sewing in the dead of night by candlelight their clothing and supplies. When the night finally came they knelt in prayer.
After an epic journey William and Ellen reached the north. The couple rested in the free states briefly before word came that fugitive slave catchers were on their heels. They continued on to Canada, then London, even as far as Northern Africa. William built a thriving business and Ellen continued to sew and share their story.
After the emancipation proclamation was signed the Craft’s returned to America. Reluctant to have children because of her traumatic childhood, the Craft’s waited until after slavery to welcome their own children into the world. Unlike many stories of the time period this couple lived as close to happily ever after as people of color in America during reconstruction possibly could.