Black History Spotlight: William Wells Brown

Posted February 18, 2013
By Gwynne Watkins

As February is Black History Month, we will be taking time this month to spotlight several notable African-Americans who deserve recognition for their contributions to society and history.

William Wells Brown

William Wells Brown (1814-1884)

William Wells Brown made an important contribution to history as an abolitionist lecturer, both in the United States and Europe. He also is recognized as the first African-American to publish a novel, Clotel; or The President’s Daughter.

Born a slave in Lexington, Kentucky, he was sold multiple times, eventually escaping. He named himself Wells Brown in honor of the Quaker who helped him as a runaway. For a short time, Wells Brown was a conductor on the Underground Railroad, helping other slaves escape to Canada. He then moved to New York and became a well-known spokesman for the abolitionists.

A self-educated man, he published his popular autobiography, depicting the life of a slave. In later years, he lectured in Europe, where he remained for some time due to the Fugitive Slave Law. British abolitionists purchased his freedom in 1854. Upon his return to Massachusetts, he studied medicine and opened a medical practice.

God…called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace. — 2 Timothy 1:8-9

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Image and text from Warner Press bulletin U7825 (UPC: 7-30817-34480-5). Art and design by Christian Elden. Portrait available for license. Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

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