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Illustration of school building

The First African American Physician

James McCune Smith and the Power of Education

James McCune Smith

James McCune Smith

Race and Medicine

Register Showing Smith at Glasgow University, 1835–1836

Register Showing Smith at Glasgow University, 1835–1836

Freedom and Liberty are [not] synonymes. . . . Freedom is the gift of God; Liberty, the creature of society. Liberty may be taken away from a man; but, on whatsoever soul Freedom may alight, the course of that soul is thenceforth onward and upward . . . .

James McCune Smith, 1853

Abolitionist Politics

Title page of Frederick Douglass’s My Bondage and My Freedom, 1857

Title page of Frederick Douglass’s My Bondage and My Freedom, 1857

Read More Lesser Known Stories

Preacher Jarena Lee: Praise in the Meantime

Jarena Lee experienced both the intense religiosity of the late 1700s and discrimination against women as she sought to become a preacher.

The Man Behind Tennessee Whiskey

Nathan “Nearest” Green was the first known Black master distiller and creator of the blueprint behind Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey.

Crossing the Color Line to Freedom

William and Ellen Craft, fugitives from slavery, devised a cunning plan that crossed race, gender, and class lines.

This bronze portrait bust depicts Frank McWorter, formerly enslaved American and founder of New Philadelphia, Illinois. Shown from the chest up, the bust is mounted on a black stone rectangular base with the front protruding slightly at an angle. Frank McWorter wears a coat with a swirling texture incised onto the surface. under the coat is a buttoned waistcoat, shirt, high collar and cravat. He has a mustache and sideburns, and his head is turned slightly to the viewer’s' left. The bust is signed by the artist on the back of the left shoulder.

An African American Venturer

"Free" Frank McWorter, founded New Philadelphia, Illinois, the first known town to be founded and platted by an African American.

The Water Spirit Will Take Us Home

The mass suicide by captive Africans at Igbo Landing marks one of the most significant acts of resistance by enslaved people.

Portrait of Paul Jennings

Enslaved at the White House

Paul Jennings, enslaved by James and Dolly Madison, bought his freedom and published a personal memoir in 1865.