Ellen and William Craft Story

On Thursday, February 12, 2015, I presented the “Ellen and William Craft Story” at the Ruth Hartley Mosley Women’s Center’s celebration for Black History Month. Under the leadership of Geraldine Marion-McCord, Executive Director of the Mosley Women’s Center, there were three weekly presentations in honor of Black History Month that focused on music, freedom and religion.

The community showed such an interest in hearing the Craft story that the site was moved from the Mosley Women’s Center to the Steward Chapel AME Church, which was a couple doors from the Center. That evening there were approximately 100 people in the audience, which included several who were familiar with the Ellen and William Craft escape. My talk on the Crafts included their escape from slavery, an overview of their life as Abolitionists in New England and Great Britain, their return to Georgia and their children. The response from the audience to my presentation was inspiring with people expressing their appreciation!

Following my remarks, there was a reception at the Ruth Hartley Mosley Women’s Center, which was the former home of Mrs. Mosley (1886-1975) who had a rich history in helping her community. She was inducted into the Georgia Women of Achievement in 1994, as well as, Ellen Craft in 1996. georgiawomen.org.

The media coverage for the program included an interview over the telephone on February 11 by Phillip Ramati of “The Telegraph,” Macon’s local newspaper. See Ramatis’ article, “Story of Two Macon Slaves To Be” at http://www.macon.com/2015/02/11/3581064_story-of-two-macon-slaves-to-be.html?rh=1 . Alex C. Habersham, publisher of Macon-Middle Georgia Black Pages and Resource Guide, interviewed me for his weekly television show, “Macon’s Call to Action,” which may be seen on YouTube.

It was a pleasant surprise to meet two young men with a commitment to learning about their ancestors and who had a link to Ellen Craft. A descendant of the Crums was part of the crew that taped my interview and afterwards showed me a listing of several Crums of German descendant from Orangeburg, South Carolina with the number of slaves that they owned. In 1883, Ellen and William’s daughter married William “Demos” Crum, M.D. (1859-1912), the youngest of seven children who grew up on the large plantation of his father, Darius Crum, near Orangeburg. His grandfather, a German,  settled in South Carolina in the nineteenth century. Active in Republican politics, Dr. Crum was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as the first African-American Customs Collector of the Port of Charleston. Under President Taft, he held the post of U.S. Minister to Liberia until his death in Charleston of malaria that was contracted in Monrovia. A second person was researching his ancestors from among the slaves on the Smith plantation.

What a joy it was to see my Macon friends – Muriel D. Jackson, Head Genealogy Librarian/Archivist, Middle Georgia Regional Library and Wini McQueen, Artist – who were so supportive during my visits to Macon in the early 1990s. It was a pleasure to meet everyone including Jeanne Cyriaque, Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Historic Preservation Division, who drove down from Atlanta. The Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from Congressman Sanford Bishop and a Certificate of Recognition from Mayor Robert A.B. Reichert were an honor to receive. Thank you to the Ruth Hartley Mosley Women’s Center’s Executive Director, Mrs. McCord, and the Board Chair, Dr. Thomas Duval, for making this a special occasion.

Dr. Duval captured the importance of telling the Craft story in the following quote,  “Just as the Edmund Pettus Bridge protest was the iconic event in our generation;  so was the “Escape Of William and Ellen Craft” the iconic event of the antebellum south for black folks in that era.   African American children, indeed all children need to know this history.”

Thank you Macon for a warm welcome!

Pictures below: First: Mrs. Geraldine McCord, Executive Director, Ruth Hartley Mosley Women’s Center’s, presenting the mayor’s Certificate of Recognition and gift from the City of Macon. Second: Congressman Bishop’s representative presenting the Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition. Third: Ms. Davis speaking about the Craft descendants. Fourth: members of the Macon Community including Reverend Richard Keil, the founder of the Harriett Tubman African American Museum, the largest museum in the Southeast dedicated to educating people about the Art, History and Culture of African Americans. tubmanmuseum.com

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