North Carolina’s African American heritage is rich and diverse. In slavery and in freedom, black residents shaped state politics and institutions, literary traditions, religious practice, and the lives of their fellow North Carolinians. The African American struggle for civil rights and equality touched all regions of the state, and the following is a listing, grouped by region, of some important dates for African American history in North Carolina….
1806 Thomas H. Jones was born on a plantation near Wilmington but was eventually sold to a shopkeeper who taught him reading, writing, and basic arithmetic. Jones escaped slavery in 1849 by hiding on a ship bound for New York. In the North, he worked for the abolitionist cause and published three narratives: Experience and Personal Narrative of Uncle Tom Jones; Who Was for Forty Years a Slave. Also the Surprising Adventures of Wild Tom, of the Island Retreat, a Fugitive Negro from South Carolina (1850s), The Experience of Thomas H. Jones, Who Was a Slave for Forty-Three Years (1862), and The Experience of Rev. Thomas H. Jones, Who Was a Slave for Forty-Three Years. Written by a Friend, as Related to Him by Brother Jones (1885).
1829 The fiery Appeal of Wilmington native David Walker was printed in Boston and made its way to North Carolina, stirring the fears and suspicions of white slaveholders and legislators. David Walker’s Appeal, in Four Articles; Together with a Preamble, to the Coloured Citizens of the World, but in Particular, and Very Expressly, to Those of the United States of America was eventually banned in North Carolina and other Southern states, but two more editions were printed before Walker’s mysterious death in 1830.
1849 London R. Ferebee was born to enslaved parents in Currituck County. His master, Edwin Cowles, took Ferebee away from his family to work with his boating crew, and in 1861, Ferebee was living with his master’s family in Still Town, a village outside of Elizabeth City. In August of that year, Ferebee ran away to Shiloh, North Carolina, to seek protection with the Northern army. He records these events and other adventures in his 1882 narrative A Brief History of the Slave Life of Rev. L. R. Ferebee, and the Battles of Life, and Four Years of His Ministerial Life. Written from Memory…
Read the rest: African American History Across North Carolina
Featured Image Credit: [Frontispiece] Thomas H. Jones. The Experience of Thomas Jones, Who Was a Slave for Forty-Three Years. New Bedford, CT: E. Anthony & Sons, Printers, 1885 as seen on Documenting the American South.