Maria (nee Miller )Stewart was the first woman to speak before a “promiscuous” audience, i.e. men and women, black and white in early 19th century America. She was the first African-American woman to lecture about women’s rights. Stewart focused particularly on the rights of black women, religion, and social justice among black people. She also became the first African-American woman to make public anti-slavery speeches and is one of the first African-American women to make public lectures for which there are still surviving copies.
Maria Stewart newspaper
“Most of our color have dragged out a miserable existence of servitude from the cradle to the grave. And what literary acquirements can be made, or useful knowledge derived, from either maps, books or charm, by those who continually drudge from Monday morning until Sunday noon? O, ye fairer sisters, whose hands are never soiled, whose nerves and muscles are never strained, go learn by experience! Had we had the opportunity that you have had, to improve our moral and mental faculties, what would have hindered our intellects from being as bright, and our manners from being as dignified as yours?… And why are not our forms as delicate, and our constitutions as slender, as yours? Is not the workmanship as curious and complete? Have pity upon us, have pity upon us, O ye who have hearts to feel for other’s woes; for the hand of God has touched us. Owing to the disadvantages under which we labor, there are many flowers among us that are…born to bloom unseen.
Stewart’s address in 1832 at Boston’s Franklin Hall, is notable in that Stewart used it to support a vision of black nationalism. Framed as a “black jeremiad”, Stewart’s speech followed in the tradition of the jeremiad as a rhetorical device in American discourse and refers to the prophet Jeremiah, author of the book of Lamentations.  It is a melancholy disputation and it embodies warnings of further judgment and greater sufferings to come. Maria Stewart’s “black jeremiad” then was a means by which a black American woman warned whites of “the judgment that was to come for the sin of slavery.”
For more background on Maria Stewart’s 1832 speech:
Link here for pix and info about Maria Stewart and six other women whose feminism was necessarily radicalized by the simple act of standing up and speaking out as Black women.
Read a book of Maria Stewart’s speeches

Maria W. Stewart, America's first Black woman political writer : essays and speeches

I’m old enough to have remembered the events as portrayed in Ava Duverney’s film, “Selma.” Everything about the film seemed pitch perfect to me though I realized while watching that the lesson, for me, was that we Americans do not see things in the same ways. I can’t actually explain why this continues to surprise me. I remember the excitement of MLK’s speeches. I remember his words as  always reasonable, charitable, intelligent.  When I recall  that people didn’t agree, that some people still don’t, I still shake my head  in disbelief.

Kudos to Ms. Duverney for her beautiful film. Like so many Black women artists before her, she has made a way from no way.

Civil Rights marchers Selma to Montgomery

Civil Rights marchers on Edmund Pettus Bridge

For Your FEBRUARY enrichment read: 
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FE-BROO-AIR-EE is Black History Month

Dr. Carter G. Woodson

Dr. Carter G. Woodson

I always get a lift in spirits when February comes around because it’s Black History Month. I enjoy the special programming and the unabashed celebration of the history of African people in the Americas.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson was the honored ancestor who. launched Negro History Week in 1926. Woodson chose the second week of February because it falls between the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. This observance evolved into Black History Month in 1976. Known for writing the contributions of black Americans into the national spotlight, Woodson received a Ph.D at Harvard University;  founded the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History in 1915;  founded the Journal of Negro History in 1916 and is the author of the book, “The Miseducation of the Negro“, published in 1933.
Read, re-read or introduce a friend to my three historical novels:

Breena Clarke's books

Breena Clarke’s books

LINK HERE TO see AMAZON’S SPECIAL DEALS  on select African American Historical fiction including
ANGELS MAKE THEIR HOPE HERE imagines a community that many, even today, would think improbable if not impossible. Dossie is rescued from slavery by Duncan Smoot, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, who gives her refuge in just such an improbable, but possible place, the town of Russell’s Knob, New Jersey.
” . . . the novel swiftly goes from idyllic to horrific but told throughout in language that gives us the verbal music of the period and the soulful reality of this little community of outliers. “Angels Make Their Hope Here” – this tribute to old Jersey is well worth your time.”
            Alan Cheuse, NPR – listen to the full review 
                                             ALL THINGS CONSIDERED on NPR
STAND THE STORM is set in Civil War era Washington  D.C. and it illumines the lives of a self-emancipated tailor, his indomitable mother, his wife and children.
“An evocative,historically rich book that brings the turbulent Civil war period alive”
             TIME Magazine
RIVER, CROSS MY HEART is the story of a young girl’s life in the African American community of Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood in the early 20th century.
“A genuine masterpiece . .  Full of grace and beauty and profound insights . . .”
            Michael Sheldon, Baltimore Sun