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Anna Taylor Sweringen/Michal Scott: Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction (Contest)
Sunday, February 25th, 2024

UPDATE: The winner is…Mary McCoy!

For Black History Month, my post will focus on an amazing book I discovered while researching my October 2023 D.D. post on Hallie Q. Brown (1850-1950). Published by Ms. Brown in 1926, Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction contains sixty biographical sketches/essays written by twenty-nine contributors. Ms. Brown wrote 21 of them.

Here is the book’s dedication which includes a verse of poetry by poet Clara Ann Thompson (1869-1949):

In memory of the many mothers who were loyal in tense and trying times, this volume is affectionately dedicated to the National Association of Colored Women of America and Canada.

Through all the blight of slavery
They kept their womanhood
And now they march with heads erect,
To fight for all things good,
Nor care for scorn nor seek for praise,
Just so they please their God.

Whether well-known like Phillis Wheatley or less well-known like Martha Payne, the mother of Daniel Payne, who founded Wilberforce University, each essay shares how these women impacted society in whatever role they found themselves.  By publishing Homespun Heroines, Hallie Brown and her co-authors made sure the world learned about women worthy of remembrance regardless of their “lot” in life.

In the foreword, author and teacher Josephine Turpin Washington (1861-1949) begins:

“Interesting as are the facts recorded in this book, they do not constitute its chief value. That is found in its reflection of the wonderful spirit which moved the women who strove and achieved, despite obstacles greater than any which have stood in the way of other upward struggles.”

Then she ends with, “The result is a work which not only furnishes useful information, but—what is even more—inspires to finer character and racial development.”

My edition of Homespun Heroines is part of a collaboration between the Schomburg Library in Harlem, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, and Oxford University Press. In his Note from the Schomburg, Howard Dodson, the Schomburg’s director at the time, wrote that when titles from the 19th century were being reprinted in the 1960s, with the exception of well-known names like Phillis Wheatley, the work of women was notably absent. The Schomburg therefore created The Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women.

By sharing my African American women posts here on Delilah’s blog I think that I too am honoring the “memory of the many mothers who were loyal in tense and trying times” as Hallie Brown and her co-authors did. Their work has inspired me to begin compiling information on African American women of the modern era as well as continuing to share about those from the 19th century. I’ve already written about some of the women found in Homespun Heroine’s pages. I look forward to sharing about others I’m discovering thanks to this fantastic resource.

For a chance at a $10 Amazon Gift Card, share in the comments any thoughts you might have on this post or the name of a resource that you’ve learned Women’s History from.

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…


Arousal—fondly remembered and sorely missed—sizzled between Mary Hamilton’s well- rounded thighs. Moisture coated her nether lips and threatened to stoke the sizzle into a blaze. The sensation surprised her, as did the owner of the gaze that lit the flame.

Eban Thurman stood against an opposite wall of the town’s community hall. Although the room was wide as two barns and filled with revelers, neither the distance nor the presence of the crowd lessened the power of his gaze. He studied her with a curiosity that didn’t grope with disdain, but caressed with approval.

With respect.

This kind of appreciation was never given to women as dark and as large as she. Gratitude heated her face.

Gratitude and embarrassment. Her lavender toilet water couldn’t hide the fragrance of arousal. She shuddered with shame then glanced around. Had anyone else detected the odor? All the merrymakers seemed too caught up in the rhythmic fast fiddling and foot-stomping of Safe Haven’s seventh annual Juneteenth Revel to notice her discomfort.

In 1872 Texas who took note of a black woman who ain’t been asked to wed?

Yet Eban’s perusal said not only did he take note, but he liked what he saw.


Anna Taylor Sweringen/Michal Scott: Unbowed by the Tyranny of a Single Story – Sarah J. Smith Thompson Garnet (Contest)
Friday, December 29th, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…BN!

The firstborn of Sylvanus and Anne Smith’s eleven children, Sarah was born on July 31, 1831, in the now historic Black Brooklyn neighborhood of Weeksville. Her father was one of Weeksville’s founders and one of the few black men who could vote because he had $250 in property. Both Sarah and her sister Susan were firsts in African American history in New York. Sarah became the first African American female to serve as a principal of a public school. Her sister Susan was the first African American female in New York State to receive a medical degree.

When Sarah was fourteen, she began her career as a teaching assistant. In 1854, she taught at the African Free School of Williamsburg (Brooklyn). By the time she retired from teaching in 1900, she served for thirty-seven years as a principal. First at Colored School No. 7 in Manhattan in 1863 then as principal for both Colored School No. 4 and Public School No. 80 in 1866. She used her position to help other African American women in the teaching profession. She signed a letter of support to the Board of Education on behalf of a teacher, Ms. G.F. Putnam, for her appointment to the position of Head of Department in Public School No. 83.

In addition to teaching, Sarah was an active suffragist. She founded the Equal Suffrage League in Brooklyn, the first suffrage club for African American women. She also headed the suffrage department of the National Association of Colored Women. Alva Vanderbilt Belmont reached out to Sarah in 1910 to see if African American women might be interested in joining her suffrage club, The Political Equality Association. The answer was no, as many white women’s suffrage movements did not focus on civil rights issues important to all African Americans, like lynching. In 1911, Sarah’s activism took her to England with her sister Susan to the first Universal Races Congress, where Susan delivered a paper on African American women.

It comes as no surprise that Sarah also had an entrepreneurial spirit. She owned and ran her own seamstress shop from 1883 to 1911.

Sarah married twice. First to Episcopal minister Samuel Thompson (often mistakenly cited as Tompkins) who died in 1852. They had one daughter who lived to adulthood. In 1875, she wed Presbyterian minister and abolitionist Henry Highland Garnet who died in 1882.

Sarah died at home in Brooklyn in 1911. Noted African Americans W.E.B. DuBois and Addie Waites Hunton spoke at her memorial service.

Having grown up in Brooklyn, I knew more about her sister Susan Smith McKinney, but Sarah’s pioneering work in the New York City public school system has gained prominence thanks to the HBO series The Gilded Age.

Too often the ordeal of slavery is the only lens through which African American history is seen. Sarah Smith Thompkins Garnet’s story shows how free blacks in the North used their own advocacy and agency to build resilient African American communities.

For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card share your thoughts on Sarah’s life in the comments.

Better To Marry Than To Burn by Michal Scott

Wife Wanted: Marital relations as necessary. Love not required nor sought…

A bridal lottery seems the height of foolishness to ex-slave Caesar King, but his refusal to participate in the town council’s scheme places him in a bind. He has to get married to avoid paying a high residence fine or leave the Texas territory. After losing his wife in childbirth, Caesar isn’t ready for romance. A woman looking for a fresh start without any emotional strings is what he needs.

Queen Esther Payne, a freeborn black from Philadelphia, has been threatened by her family for her forward-thinking, independent ways. Her family insists she marry. Her escape comes in the form of an ad. If she must marry, it will be on her terms. But her first meeting with the sinfully hot farmer proves an exciting tussle of wills that stirs her physically, intellectually, and emotionally.

In the battle of sexual one-upmanship that ensues, both Caesar and Queen discover surrender can be as fulfilling as triumph.

Excerpt from Better to Marry than to Burn:

Of the men attending the meeting, thirty plunked down ten dollars for a chance at a wife. Twelve signed “I’m leaving” pledges. Caesar would do neither. His new beginning couldn’t be left up to chance, not now that staying took on a grander meaning.

Forty women arrived in June. Young, old, ex- slave and freeborn. Some widowed. Some with children. Some mere children themselves. Once introduced, each woman shared her hopes and wants. The lottery gave them three months to be courted and become brides or accept a return ticket back home. Moving as their stories were, Caesar knew he’d done right to go his own way. He’d advertised back East for a new wife. His ad, and to the point, stated his goal:

Freed man seeking woman to partner in marriage for at least two years in the black town of Douglass, Texas. Must be willing and able to help establish a legacy. Marital relations as necessary. Love neither required nor sought.

Only desperate females who couldn’t string two words together had answered. Not that he was looking for conversation, but he’d had a prize in his Emma and nothing less than another prize would do. Finally, he received a missive that gave him hope he’d found his match.

He’d held her envelope beside the flickering glow of a kerosene lamp and studied the handwriting. The elegant strokes bespoke education. The grade of paper used signaled either someone of means or at least someone intent on making a good impression. Two marks in her favor.

His eyebrows raised, however, as his gaze lingered over the Q imprinted in the wax seal holding the envelope shut. Another sign of quality…maybe too much quality. Why would a woman of obvious education and means be willing to brave the hardships of life out West as an ex-slave’s mail order bride?

Buy link:

Anna Taylor Sweringen/Michal Scott: Hallie Quinn Brown – Inspirational Elocutionist and Hands-On Historian (Contest)
Sunday, October 29th, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…Sara D!

While sources differ on the year, Hallie Quinn Brown was born on March 10, 1850, to former slaves who migrated first to Canada then returned to the US and settled in Wilberforce Ohio. By the age of sixteen, she had graduated from the Chautauqua Lecture School and for the rest of her life gained renown as an eloquent elocutionist in Europe and America, speaking on the issues of temperance, women’s suffrage, and civil rights.

In 1873, she received a degree from Wilberforce College and lived a life dedicated to education as resistance. She taught in schools for the formerly enslaved in Mississippi and South Carolina. From 1885 to 1887, she taught at Allen University, Columbia, South Carolina, and also served as their dean. From 1892 to 1893, she served as Dean of Women at Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee Alabama. An interesting side note was provided my research by this Facebook video, Ohio oral historian Kweku Larry Franklin Crowe shares that Hallie Brown not only taught at Tuskegee but literally helped build it “sitting on a mule and dragging logs.” (The video is only 2 minutes long!)

She returned to Ohio to teach elocution at Wilberforce from 1893 to 1903. In the late 1890s, she frequently spoke on African American issues in London.

A firm believer in community action, she founded the Colored Woman’s League in 1896, served as president of the Ohio State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs from 1905 to 1912, and the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) from 1920 to 1924.

As head of the NACW, she helped spearhead African American opposition to a monument proposed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which would have depicted a Black woman caring for a white infant. The “Mammy” statue sought to foster the defeated South’s Lost Cause lie of slavery being beneficial to Blacks. Ms. Brown wrote “slave women are brutalized, the victims of white man’s caprice and lust. Often the babe torn from her arms was the child of her oppressor.” The bill proposing the monument died in the House of Representatives. Ron DeSantis and other Floridian history revisionists should take note.

Ms. Brown wrote four important works during her lifetime, the first, Bits and Odds, in 1880 and her fourth and most popular, Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction, a collaboration with over twenty other women in 1926.

She died on September 16, 1949, in Wilberforce, Ohio. I stand in awe of women like Hallie Brown who not only inspired by her own example but also shared the accomplishments of others as well. I hope in my own small way with these blogposts I’m following in her footsteps.

For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card share something about Hallie’s story that has inspired you.

The Spirit to Resist by Michal Scott
from Hot and 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 fellows had terms for girls like Florence who made them hard and offered no relief.


Pee wee player.

Worst of all, vanilla.

Flirts and pee wee players were little girls in burgeoning bodies who tested the limits of their newly acquired womanhood. Timid and coquettish, they longed for, but feared, sexual experience.

Not vanillas.

Proudly defiant and unafraid, vanillas reveled in the effect their teasing had on their targets. The skill with which Florence taunted him proclaimed her Queen of the Vanillas. She’d be heading back to Brooklyn tomorrow. Today’s soiree was his last chance to obtain relief and release from this adept tormenter.

“Mother you’ve got to use every influence at your disposal to make sure Florence attends this Sunday’s soiree.”

His mother shook her head. “I doubt she’ll be making social rounds with all the packing she has to do. Honestly, you surprise me. I got the impression you two didn’t like each other.”

“That’s just a game we’re playing.” His mouth dried as if suddenly stuffed with cotton. He swallowed to free his tongue and spoke the unwelcome truth. “I like her a lot.”

A conspiratorial glint lit up his mother’s eyes. “Alright. We’ll make the Walters family guests of honor. That’ll insure her mother’s cooperation.”

Knowing his mother, her ploy would succeed. Florence would attend and he’d get his chance to put Florence’s teasing to the test.

Smirk away, Florence Walters. Your days as Queen of the Vanillas are over.



Cynthia Capley: Shopping During the Regency Era
Sunday, September 29th, 2019

During the Regency era, merchants allowed aristocrats to purchase products even if they didn’t pay back money owed for years. Shop owners hoped that once it was known that an aristocrat or well-known person had purchased a particular product from their shop, sales would follow. The emerging middle class was eager to own the same items being consumed by the upper classes. There were also more products available for purchase as a result of industrialization.

Many of the streets where people shopped during the Regency—Piccadilly, Bond and Oxford, among others—remain busy shopping areas today. A few stores in these shopping areas have been in existence since the eighteenth century. Piccadilly has been home to Hatchard’s Book Shop since 1797, and Fortnum and Mason since 1707. Other shops remaining from the Regency era are Locks for hats, Floris for perfumes and the Berry Brothers Wine Shop.

Research is important if writing in a historical era. Some of the shops listed above have never been renovated, providing insight as to how stores were laid out and decorated in the seventeenth century. At Floris, they have archives of orders placed by notable people such as Queen Victoria. Their Limes perfume, which has been selling since the 1700’s, is still available for purchase. These stores provide a way to experience the past through scent, their furnishings and samples of items created in the past.

Jane Austen’s World, “Shopping in London During Jane Austen’s Time,”

Jennifer Kloester, “Shopping,” in Georgette Heyer’s Regency World (Illinois:,Sourcebooks, 2010)

The Perfume Society, “Floris”,

About the Author

Cynthia Capley is working on her first novel set during the Regency era. She enjoys writing stories with strong characters that triumph over challenges to achieve their happily ever after. Cynthia lives in the Pacific Northwest where the rain and numerous coffee houses make the perfect writing companions. She lives with her husband and a menagerie of pets and likes to spend time playing fetch with Natasha, a tortoiseshell-colored cat with an attitude.


Michal Scott: Repeating History Isn’t Always Bad
Monday, November 5th, 2018

Philosopher George Santayana is quoted as saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” I believe it’s true that if we don’t remember the mistakes of the past we’ll repeat them, but I also believe there are things in the past that are not only worth remembering, but repeating as well. Case in point: Arthur A. Schomburg.

For instance, what can you tell of someone’s past from their name? My real name is Anna Taylor Sweringen. Except perhaps that I’m female, what would you guess about me? From the way Sweringen sounds (swur-in-gen) would think Dutch or German? My husband’s family name was originally van Swearingen, so if you guessed Dutch you were right. But without meeting me, would you have guessed by that name I’m African American Manhattan born and Brooklyn bred?

What about Arthur A. Schomburg? Male? Maybe with some Latinx ancestry? Some European? You’d be right on all counts. Arturo Alfonso Schomburg was born in 1874 in Canegros,Puerto Rico of African and German ancestry. I first learned of Mr. Schomburg when as a teen I visited the Schomburg on 135th Street off Lenox avenue in Harlem. I remember learning there that one of Schomburg’s teachers told him black people had not contributed anything to history, that black people had no past to remember. Schomburg spent his life dispelling that myth. In 1926, the Carnegie Corporation gave the New York Public Library $10,000 to purchase his collection of books, artwork and other materials that by then exceeded 10,000 items. Mr. Schomburg served as the curator of the collection until his death in 1938. In 1972, the library’s collection was moved from its 135th building to a brand new building next door on the corner of Lenox Avenue and became the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The Center is now a National Historic Landmark and houses over eleven million items.

I’m now 62, but I’ve never forgotten the wonder and pride I felt in my youth as I walked from one end to the other of the original 135th street building looking at the sculptures, the paintings and the books created by people of African ancestry. I’ve always loved history in general, but I’m sure the seeds of my love for African and African American history in particular can trace their roots back to those visits. The Center is sowing similar seeds in present generations through their Junior Scholars and Teen Curators programs. One current exhibits includes work by the teen curators, combined with work by anthropologist Melville Herskovits, who like Schomburg also argued against the myth that those of African ancestry had no past.

If remembering the past leads to revelation and reverence in ways that uplift and inspire the better angels of our nature, then that’s a past I don’t mind being doomed to repeat. If you ever visit New York, make the Schomburg a must-see stop. Until then, enjoy it online at

One Breath Away

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…

Get your copy here!

God created something unique from Africa’s ebony clay when He made this one. Eban’s broad nose and high cheekbones belonged on a statue in a museum for all to enjoy. Legs long enough to cross the length of Texas in five strides brought Eban in her direction. An expensively tailored jacket hung off shoulders that could span the banks of the Rio Grande. A ruby glinted in his left earlobe and conspired with his shaved head to give him an air of mystery and menace.

Mary closed her eyes and again tried to resist his allure.

The devil often appears as an angel of light.

She sucked in a breath, opened her eyes, and gnawed her lip. This angel of light hadn’t stopped his approach. Clenching her thighs hadn’t stifled the desire swelling within her privates.

Hadn’t smothered the hope reviving in her heart.

Felicity slanted her head to the right. A coy smile gave the angle weight.

“And what brings you to our side of the room, stranger?” She repeated her breast-swelling move and grinned, peacock proud. “See something you like?”

Eban tapped a finger in salute at his brow. “More than like, miss.”

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.”

Buy links:
Wild Rose Press:

About the Author

A native New Yorker, Michal Scott is the pen name of Anna Taylor Sweringen, an ordained United Church of Christ and Presbyterian Church USA minister. Using the writings of the love mystics of Begijn for inspiration, Michal Scott writes Christian erotica and Christian erotic romance (i.e. erotica and erotic romance with a faith arc), hoping to build a bridge between the sacred and secular, spirituality and sexuality, erotica and Christ, her readers and a well-written spiritually-stimulating and erotically-arousing story. As an African American, she writes stories to give insight into the African American experience in the US. She has been writing romance seriously since joining Romance Writers of America in 2003 and had her first novel published in 2008. She writes inspirational romance as Anna Taylor and gothic romance as Anna M. Taylor. You can connect with Anna on Twitter @mscottauthor1 and learn more about her and her writing at her various websites:, and

Diana Cosby: Fall – A Magical Time of Year (Contest)
Friday, September 28th, 2018

UPDATE: The winner is…Debbie Watson!

©Diana Cosby 2018

I love fall.  For me it’s a magical part of the year, a passage of time that I enjoy.  It’s as if nature takes a deep breath, peace slowly settles upon the land, and leaves explode with a myriad of colors.

Nor is wildlife exempt from the changes around them.  Fawns lose their spot, my much-loved hummingbirds join many birds during their annual southern migration, and some animals like, Ian, the chipmunk, begin their hibernation.

The gorgeous swath of leaves throughout the forest provide an amazing backdrop to the wildlife settling in for the winter.  I enjoy each day of the beautiful colors of the leaves as soon they’ll fall to the earth rest with the arrival of winter, rest beneath a blanket of snow.

I’m fascinated by the changes in the insects during this time. Bees are hurrying around gathering pollen to make honey before the flowers wither, then they remain in their hive until the warmer days of spring.  As fall progresses, instead of the blue, green, and gold dragonflies of summer, dragonflies of amber and rust shades glide through the skies.

Fall flowers bloom with flourish, their vibrant colors blanketing the ground, igniting thoughts of the warm scent of apple pies, warm cider, and freshly baked cookies.  Soon winter will soon be upon us, but for this special time, I enjoy the blessed bounty given to us by the fall.

What do you like best about fall?

About the Author

A retired Navy Chief, Diana Cosby is an international bestselling author of Scottish medieval romantic suspense.  Books in her award-winning MacGruder Brothers series have been translated in five languages.  Diana has spoken at the Library of Congress, Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC, and appeared in Woman’s Day, on USA Today’s romance blog, “Happy Ever After,”, Atlantic County Women Magazine, and Texoma Living Magazine.

After her career in the Navy, Diana dove into her passion – writing romance novels. With 34 moves behind her, she was anxious to create characters who reflected the amazing cultures and people she’s met throughout the world.  After the release of the bestselling MacGruder Brothers series, The Oath Trilogy, and the first two book of The Forbidden Series, she’s now working on book #4, Forbidden Realm, of the five-book series, which will be released August, 6th, 2019.

Diana looks forward to the years of writing ahead and meeting the amazing people who will share this journey.


***ONE winner will be drawn from everyone who posts on Delilah’s blog between 28 September 2018 – 6 October 2018.  The winner will receive one of Diana’s mugs and a tote.

Diana Cosby, International Best-Selling Author

Romance Edged With Danger

The Oath Trilogy

MacGruder Brother Series

Forbidden Series:  Forbidden Legacy/Forbidden Knight/Forbidden Vow/Forbidden Alliance‒Aug. 6th 2019/Forbidden Realm TBA