UPDATE: The winner is…Misty Dawn!
Nowadays, we take for granted when women operate in public spaces. Many had to be the firsts to make the accomplishments women enjoy now possible. Sarah Jane Woodson Early was one such first.
Sarah Jane was born free in Chillicothe, Ohio on November 15, 1825. Her parents were formerly enslaved but were freed before moving to Ohio. They founded the first black Methodist church west of the Alleghenies. They also founded Berlin Crossings, a flourishing black farming community which by 1840 had its own school, stores and churches and served as a station on the Underground Railroad.
Since many of the Woodson’s eleven children went on to become ministers and educators, it comes as no surprise that Sarah, their youngest, chose a career in education. She enrolled in Oberlin College and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1856. This made her one of the first black women in the US to graduate from college.
She taught in black community schools until Wilberforce University hired her to teach English in 1858. While denied the title of professor, teaching at Wilberforce made her the first African-American woman to hold the position of college instructor. When the college closed in 1862 because the Civil War started, Sarah taught in black public schools. The African Methodist Episcopal church purchased and reincorporated the college in 1863. Sarah was rehired in 1866 to teach English and Latin. This time she was officially given the title professor. In 1868 she left Wilberforce to teach at an African-American school for girls under the auspices of the Freedman’s Bureau in North Carolina. That same year she married Jordan Winston Early, an African Methodist Episcopal minister who had been enslaved. She taught wherever he preached and served as the principal of several schools in four different cities.
Although she retired from teaching in 1888 and with her husband moved to Nashville, she did not retire from activism. In 1888, the Colored Division of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union elected her to a four-year term as national superintendent. In this role she gave over 100 speeches. She was also an active representative of the state’s Prohibition Party. At the 1893 World’s Congress of Representative Women, she was one of only five African-American women invited to speak. In 1894 she wrote The Life and Labors of Rev. J.W. Early, One of the Pioneers of African Methodism in the West and South, a biography of her husband.
She died in 1907 at the age of 82. I read one article which stated that by the time Sarah retired she’d taught 6,000 children. I hope the life I’m leading through my writing will one day have such a ripple effect.
For a chance at a $10 Amazon card, comment on Sarah’s story or share a hope of yours about having an impact in your world.
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. She’s never been courted, cuddled or spooned, and now no man could want her, not when sexual satisfaction comes only with the thought of asphyxiation. 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 the mysteriously exotic woman 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. Hope ignites along with lust until the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…
Excerpt from One Breath Away…
The surprise of pleasure curved in her smile.
He gestured with his chin toward the pantskirt’s drawstring. “Is that bitty string the only thing keeping your pants up?”
She squirmed under his teasing gaze. “That’s all it has to do.”
“Looks kind of flimsy to me. Think it’ll hold if you help me with this last post?”
He pointed toward a column of wood. Somehow snapped in two, the top half of the post dangled from a fence rail while the bottom half peeked from the ground. The replacement he’d just finished chopping lay at his feet.
“What kind of hand do you need?”
“More leverage to pull that broken post out of the ground. I’m thinking if I tie one end of a rope to the post and the other end to your rear axle, I can shift it.”
“All right.” Mary slid to his side of the wagon then stood.
He raised his arms. “Allow me.”
She frowned and looked at him hard. “Allow you to what?”
He laughed. “To help you down.”
She fisted her hips. “Do I look like I need help? I’m no weakling.” She shooed him away and took a step. Her bootlace snagged on the edge of the seat. She shrieked and toppled into his arms.
He laughed. “Definitely not a weakling. Just clumsy.”
She clapped a hand to her throat and leaned back as far as his grip would allow. “Put me down.”
“Be careful when you tell a man to put you down. He might get the wrong idea.” He leaned forward so they were nose to nose. “Or the right one.”
She stilled. “I mean put me down so I can stand.”
His obedience pierced her with disappointment. She slid down his front and bumped against the proud welcome of his cock. She jumped back, embarrassed.
He looked down then spread his hands in apology. “Please forgive me, Miss Hamilton. You have an effect on me I just can’t hide.”