Thursday, October 16, 2014

william+still+cover.jpgWilliam Still was an African-American abolitionist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, conductor on the Underground Railroad, writer, historian and civil rights activist. He was chairman of the Vigilance Committee of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society who directly aided fugitive slaves and wrote an account of their experiences, The Underground Railroad Records, published in 1872. William Still, (his) father bought his freedom in 1798 from his master in Caroline County, Maryland on the Eastern Shore. Charity (his mother) escaped twice from Maryland. The first time, she escaped with their 4 children. They were all recaptured and returned to slavery. The 2nd time, she took only her two younger daughters north and reached her husband in New Jersey.  (The two older sons Charity had left behind, Levin, Jr. and Peter, were sold from Maryland to slave-owners in Lexington, Kentucky. Later they were resold to planters in Alabama in the Deep South. Levin, Jr. died while enslaved).                                                                                                                              In 1847, three years after settling in Philadelphia, Still began working as a clerk for the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society. When Philadelphia abolitionists organized a Vigilance Committee to directly aid escaped slaves who had reached the city, Still became its chairman. By the 1850s, Still was one of the leaders of Philadelphia's African-American community. In 1855 he participated in the nationally covered rescue of Jane Johnson, a slave who sought help from the Society in gaining freedom while passing through Philadelphia with her master John Hill Wheeler, newly appointed US Minister to Nicaragua.                                                                                                                                                                     In 1859, Still challenged the segregation of the city's public transit system, which had separate seating for whites and blacks. He kept lobbying and, in 1865, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a law to integrate streetcars across the state. Part 2 tomorrow...

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