Stagger Lee and Mary Ellen Pleasant

654 Words3 Pages
Mary Pleasants story is one of dedication and perseverance. She was born between 1814 and 1817 and was the part African-American, part white, illegitimate child of a Virginia governor's son (John H. Pleasant). She grew up in Georgia, but at the age of 9 was sent to Louisiana and subsequently from there to Massachusetts. After her indentureship ended she moved to Boston and from there moved back to Virginia. Once there she set up and help run an underground railroad for a number of years pretending to be white, but inevitably was recognized and hunted. She fled to the west and settled in California. Once in California she helped out of work freed slaves find work and continued acting as an activist while opening some gentlemen’s clubs and laundry mats. Things got ruff in 1853 and in 1858 she moved to Canada to help the movement up there and house escaped slaves from Virginia. She and a man named John Brown decided to ride into Virginia and attack the Federal Arsenal to frighten the Union into ending slavery. The plan failed and Brown was hanged, Mary barely escaped with her life. In 1860 she returned to San Francisco, however, after the Emancipation Proclamation and the California Right-of-Testimony of 1863 allowed her to do so safely, she openly declared her race and personally orchestrated court battles to test the right of testimony laws. Up until this point she, in front of the general public, always had on the guise of being a white person since she could pass it off so well. Her landmark achievement was in 1868 with her battle for the right to ride the San Francisco trolleys – it set precedent in the California Supreme Court. This story is quite a contrast, at first, when compared to Stagger Lees story who never crusaded for his people’s rights even though he did, arguably inadvertently, further them. The story of Stagger Lee is much different, he was a bar
Open Document