Fannie M. Jackson Coppin
Former slave and brought by her aunt when she was 12 years old. Ms. Fannie was one of the first Black women to graduate from a major U.S. college - Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio in 1865.
She was also the first Black woman to oversee a coed learning institution in the country after leading the Philadelphia Institute for Colored Youth (later named Cheyney State University).
Ms. Fannie continued to give back through establishing The Women's Exchange and Girls' Home. She was a board member for the Home for Aged and Infirmed Colored People in Philadelphia founded by Blacks and Quakers. This service provided housing for black people 55 and older.
These services were known as "beneficial societies" because they recognized black people of being "worthy of liberty." Ms. Fannie was a guiding light to enrich and enlighten the lives of black people. She is a testament to all men and women.
"Slave Gordon" also known as Whipped Peter
Enslaved in Louisiana, but determined to be free. He is known for exposing the horrific beatings slaves had to endure. In 1863, his owner, John Lyon, removed his overseer because he was severely beaten. While recuperating for 2 months, Gordon made his escape through an 80 mile, 10-day journey.
Not only did his determination save him, but onions as well. He took onions from the plantation and rubbed them over his body repeatedly to mask his scent of the bloodhounds and catchers in pursuit of him.
Gordon reached a Union camp near Baton Rouge, Louisiana where his freedom was manifested.
At the camp, he went through medical examinations which exposed sever residue of his floggings which were photographed. These images became known worldwide documenting the extensive scarring of his back from whippings received in slavery.
In July 1863, these images appeared in an article about "Slave Gordon" and published in Harper's Weekly, the most widely read journal during the Civil War. His determination paid off. His name changed from "Slave Gordon" to Private Gordon.
Slave Gordon was determined to be a Free Man.
Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield aka "The Black Swan"
Born a slave in Natchez, Mississippi and raised by Quakers. Ms. Elizabeth took the surname of her mistress Greenfield, along with her love of music and vocal talent. Upon her mistress death, Ms. Elizabeth continued her love for music and singing. Her first performance was in Buffalo, New York.
Her friends supported her and raised money to send her to Europe to continue training and performing. While in Europe, with the hopes of her first international concert, her manager defaults on the concert and leaves her by herself.
Her comeback was remarkable. In 1854, she had an opportunity to sing for Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace. After which, she had to return to the United States because she could not afford the fiscal responsibility of living in Europe.
Ms. Elizabeth was known as the "Black Swan" not because she was black but because she wore black clothing during her performances. She wanted the focus to be on her voice.
Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield followed her passion.