Happy Black History Month! This is the first blog of a series of blogs called “Black History Month Heroes You Should Know”. Each blog focuses on the life and career of a Black American whose work has shaped American history.
The focus of today’s blog is Lucy Stanton, an abolitionist and educator who is known as the first Black woman to graduate from college.
Growing Up in Cleveland
Born during slavery in 1831, Lucy Stanton was the daughter of a free-born Black barber named Samuel Stanton. According to Black Past, he unfortunately died before Lucy turned 2 years old. Years later, her mother Margaret remarried a wealthy Black businessman and abolitionist named John Brown.
As Lucy grew up, the family became active with the Underground Railroad. They frequently used their home in Cleveland to harbor runaway enslaved people.
College at 15, First Black Woman To Graduate
At the age of 15, Lucy Stanton attended Oberlin Collegiate Institute or what is now Oberlin College. She pursued the Ladies Literary Course and at 18, she was elected President of the Ladies Literacy Society. After completing the Literacy Course in 1850, Lucy became the first Black woman to graduate from college.
In 1852, Lucy met and married William Howard Day, a former classmate at Oberlin. He was the editor of the abolitionist newspaper the Alienated American. In 1854, Lucy became the first Black person to publish a work of fiction when she wrote an antislavery short story for the Alienated American.
Together, the couple moved to Canada where they both began teaching enslaved people who had escaped. In 1858, the couple had their daughter, Florence. But, only a year later, William Day left Lucy and asked for a divorce.
Lucy moved back to Cleveland with her daughter, where she picked up work as a seamstress, and also remained involved as an abolitionist. A few years later, the Cleveland Freedman’s Association sponsored Lucy to first work in Georgia, and then Mississippi. It was during this time that Lucy met her second husband, Levi Sessions.
After their marriage, the family moved to Tennessee, then to Los Angeles where Lucy passed away in 1910.
Check out more Black History Month Heroes You Should Know here.
Source: Black Past