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Archive for August 24th, 2023

Anna Taylor Sweringen/Michal Scott: Susie King Taylor – A Teenager Who Became A First Among Firsts (Contest)
Thursday, August 24th, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…Colleen C!

Born enslaved in 1848, Susan Baker and her uncle escaped from slavery in 1862. They ended up with hundreds of other former slaves on St. Simons Island off the coast of Georgia. From the age of seven, Susie had been educated in secret schools and thus could teach others. She even used her literacy to write passes for blacks making it safe for them to travel safely after curfew. Because of these skills, she was able to open a school teaching children by day and adults at night on St. Simons. This made her the first African American woman to open and teach at a free school in Georgia. All at the age of fourteen.

She married Sergeant Edward King, a black officer in the 33rd US Colored Infantry and helped nurse and equip the soldiers while also continuing to teach the illiterate to read and write. In Beaumont SC, she met and worked with Clara Barton at a hospital for African-American soldiers. She did this work in the army for four years without pay.

In 1866, she and her husband’s service in the military ended. They moved to Savannah where she opened a school for African American children. However, a new public school provided too much competition, so Susie’s school had to close. That same year her husband died. Now widowed and supporting a small child, she worked as a domestic for a wealthy white family who took her to Boston in 1870. She eventually moved to Boston in 1874, remarried and lived there with her second husband, Russell Taylor, until she died in 1912.

Susie dedicated much of her time to the Woman’s Relief Corps, an organization she helped form for female Civil War veterans. She served as its president in 1893. She also fought against a group called the Union Daughters of the Confederacy who were trying to rid the mention of slavery from school curriculums. Unfortunately, the whitewashing of history around the issue of slavery is neither new nor relegated to Florida.

She self-published Reminiscences in 1902, making her the first and only African American woman to print a Civil War memoir about her wartime experience. She ends the memoir on this positive note, “In 1861 the Southern papers were full of advertisements for ‘slaves,’ but now, despite all the hindrances and ‘race problems,’ my people are striving to attain the full standard of all other races born free in the sight of God, and in a number of instances have succeeded. Justice we ask—to be citizens of these United States, where so many of our people have shed their blood with their white comrades, that the stars and stripes should never be polluted.”

It never ceases to amaze me how resilient and resourceful women like Susie Baker King Taylor were. Neither age, race nor gender proves to be a barrier for long. I continue to be inspired and encouraged by their examples. For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card, comment below on Susie’s life.

“The Spirit to Resist” by Michal Scott from Hot & Sticky: A Passionate Ink Charity Anthology

A woman may be made a fool of if she hasn’t the spirit to resist, but what does she do if, for the first time in her life, being made into a fool is exactly what she wants?

Excerpt from “The Spirit to Resist”…

The festivities ended. Everyone helped with collecting bowls, spoons and ice cream tubs. Harold reached for the tub of chocolate Florence handed him. Emboldened by hope, he held onto her hand before she reached for another vat.

“Maybe an old-fashioned bareback trot on Harold Too might be more to your liking than a ride in William’s car?”

“You had all summer to approach me. Now you declare yourself at this late hour.” Florence fisted her hands on her shapely hips. “I don’t throw people over.”

“Of course not.” Harold’s hope died. He spread his hands in apology. “I beg your pardon.”

William stepped forward. Florence closed her eyes and sighed. The sound set hope fluttering in Harold’s spirit once more.

“Actually, it’s more than a ride I’m offering. Once alone, I’d hoped to show you something different, something pretty special.” He angled his head so his words slid into her ear. “Something just for you.”

She glared at him, but interest radiated in its heat. At least she wasn’t insulted.

William offered his arm. He grinned like a cat licking cream from its paws. “Shall we?”

Florence took it and headed with him for the door.

“See you at Thanksgiving, Harold,” she called over her shoulder then suddenly looked back. “Next time don’t be so late out of the gate.”

Harold groaned. Thanksgiving? He’d have to wait three whole months before he had another chance to challenge that irresistible vanilla?

Jesus. How would he last until then?