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On this day in 1833, Maria W. Steward delivered one of the four speeches which confirmed her place in history as the first American-born woman to give public lectures. Stewards lectures focused on encouraging African-Americans to attain education, political rights, and public recognition for their achievements. Her speech on thi day delivered at the African Masonic Hall in Boston, Massachusetts, was titled “On African Rights and Liberty.” Sixty-seven years later in Boston on this same day, African-American teacher and poet Angelina Weld Grimke was born. Grimke was a descendant of the famous white abolitionist and feminist sisters Angelina and Sarah Grimke.

Maria Stewart (Maria Miller) (1803 – December 17, 1879) was an African American essayist, public speaker, abolitionist, and women’s rights activist.

She was born Maria Miller, the child of free black parents in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1803. At the age of five she became an orphan and was sent to live with a minister and his family. Until she was fifteen, Maria was a servant in the home where she resided and was deprived of an education. When Maria turned twenty, her life took a turn for the better. Maria began to attend Sabbath School, where she learned new and exciting things. During her early adulthood, while attending school, Maria worked as a domestic servant for a living.
Stewart was the first black woman to lecture about women’s rights — particularly the rights of black women — religion, and social justice among black people. She was influenced by David Walker, a prosperous clothing shop owner, who was a well known, outspoken member of the General Colored Association. Walker was known as a leader within the African-American enclave of Boston, who wrote a very controversial piece on race relations called David Walker’s Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World. (1829).

The manuscript Blue Lines is the fictional coming of age narrative of a young California woman Key Yemaya Walker, and her 2 year growing journey through school, love, and life period piece, written by Kenneth Suffern, Jr., taking place at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill between the years of 1997 – 1998. Loosely based on true events, and experiences during that time, told through the eyes and voice of the main female protagonist, a freshman first attending the school.

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