All That’s Black: Martin Delany

Photo Credit: National Park Service

Martin Delany: Harvard Alum and Principal

“The rights of no oppressed people have ever yet been obtained by a voluntary act of justice on the part of the oppressors.”

Born free in Charles Town, Va and raised in Chambersburg and Pittsburgh, Martin initially trained to be a physician’s assistant.

During the cholera outbreaks of 1883 and 1854, Martin even went so far as to remain and treat patients when many of the doctors and residents of the city of Pittsburgh fled from fear of contamination.

In 1850, Delany was one of the first three Black men admitted to Harvard’s medical school, although all were later dismissed due to the widespread protests of White students. Martin, who had seen the horrors of slavery first hand in 1839-having travelled to the South to witness it, began working with Frederick Douglass to publish the North Star, an anti-slavery newspaper.

Although Martin dreamed of establishing a colony in South Africa and even lived in Canada for several years, when the Civil War began, he returned to the United States and recruited Blacks for the United States Colored Troops. Commissioned as a major, Martin became the first African American field grade officer in the United States Army.

After the war, Delany moved to South Carolina, where he worked for the Freedmen’s Bureau, including joining the Colored Conventions Movement and became politically active. Delany also served as a principal at a coloured school for a brief moment but is left out of the tomes of American education because so few people are aware of this fact.

By Aprille’ Morris & Emily Burke

Edited By Keshav Kant

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