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Archive for May 7th, 2021

Michal Scott: African Americans and The Religious Society of Friends (Contest & Excerpt)
Friday, May 7th, 2021

UPDATE: The winner is…bn100!

I must be honest with you from jump street. What I knew about Quakers was formed by elementary school stories about William Penn and movies like The Angel and the Bad Man and Friendly Persuasion. It took meeting real-life Quakers who kindly corrected my ignorance to free me of clichés and caricatures I hadn’t realized I harbored. The first thing they informed me was officially they are the Religious Society of Friends and they refer to themselves as Friends. So decades later when I created inspirational historical romances set in the 1880s in which my African-American characters have been helped by Friends, I scurried down a wonderful new research rabbit hole.

I Iearned that four Friends in Germantown Pennsylvania wrote one of the earliest protests against slavery in 1688. In 1700 on May 7th — one hundred eighty years before my stories are set — William Penn began monthly meetings for African Americans that promoted manumission. However, Friends weren’t always that quick to invite African Americans among them and it took another eighty years for the denomination itself to take a public stand against slavery. Donna McDaniel and Vanessa Julye document this journey in their book, Fit For Freedom, Not For Friendship. Prior to the American Revolution Quakers owned slaves and shared the same attitudes about African Americans as non-Quakers in American society. McDaniel and Julye do give the Society kudos for being the first large Christian denomination to require its members to stop participating in slavery.

I was amazed to learn that I was familiar with African-American Quakers by name but didn’t know they were Quakers. I knew of the abolitionist and back-to-Africa work of Paul Cuffe (1759-1817). I didn’t know Cuffe established the Friendly Society of Sierra Leone in 1811. Probably the most famous African-American Quaker known to me is Bayard Rustin (1912-1987). I had always known of Rustin’s civil rights and gay rights activism, but I never knew he was a Quaker.

I was grateful to encounter new names and new stories. Freed slave Cyrus Bustill (1732-1806)  helped found Philadelphia’s Free African Society and was himself a conductor on the underground railroad. His family continued as prominent black Quaker leaders, one of whom — Gertrude Bustill Mossell — became one of the first black women journalists and journal editors in the United States. Another new name was Vera Mae Green (1928-1982). Green championed international human rights and Caribbean anthropology. She did a study, “Blacks and Quakerism” in 1972-73 for the Friend’s General Conference and participated in a significant way in a session in 1979 with Quaker sociologists on peace in the Middle East.

Though I don’t get to use all I learn in my writing, I love discovering these hidden histories which make the tapestry that is history in general so colorful. So for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card, what are some surprising historical facts you’ve come across.

One Breath Away by Michal Scott

Sentenced to hang for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. Never having been courted, cuddled or spooned, Mary now fears any kind of physical intimacy when arousal forces her to relive the asphyxiation of her hanging. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more.

Wealthy freeborn-Black Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing a relationship with Mary was foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first, he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex.

Then just as Eban begins to win Mary’s trust, an enemy from the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…

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Excerpt from One Breath Away

His smile turned up the heat in his gaze. Mary frowned, painfully aware the smell of her passion lingered in the air, despite the woolen barrier of her skirt.

He stepped forward so his hand-stitched boots stood toe-to-toe with Mary’s second-hand shoes. “Eban Thurman, at your service, Miss Hamilton. May I get you something to drink?”

At her service? The air congealed. Mary gasped, trying to suck in air too solid to inflate her lungs.

“No—no, thank you. I’m not thirsty.” Her stutter mimicked the tremor between her thighs. She clasped her hands and planted them hard against her lap.

“It’s a really hot night.” He turned his hand palm up in a silent plea. “Perhaps you’d find a waltz more cooling.” He eased his fingers into her clenched hands. “May I beg the honor of this dance?”


“Yes, Miss Hamilton.” He tilted his head, slanting his smile to the right. “Beg.”

“You don’t strike me as the begging type, Mr. Thurman.”

“To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.” He tongue-swiped his full lips as if he’d just tasted something he wanted to taste again. “I know when it’s time to beg.”

She pursed her lips into a frown, fought back the urge to grovel and won. Barely.

The fingers around hers, clean and huge and strangely slender, hadn’t moved, hadn’t trembled. Their stillness aroused her. His stillness aroused her. Her lips quivered. She inhaled deeply against the surrender summoned by that tiny tremor.

Resist the devil and he will flee.

Silently she called upon the truth in this scripture for rescue.
The devil waited. She stared at the hand on hers, helpless against the appeal, the allure of temptation.

She swallowed hard, opened her mouth to say no, but her tongue refused to cooperate. She huffed out a breath and shook her head. “I—I can’t. I don’t know how to waltz.”

“Well, you’re in luck.” His lips bowed in a smile, full, broad, and hypnotizing. “I’m an excellent teacher and I bet you’re a fast learner.” He gave her fingers a squeeze. “Shall we?”

He really wanted to dance with her. She blinked, speechless. A warning voice protested.


Her heart countered.


She firmed her lips, heaved a sigh then accepted his invitation.


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