“How Enslaved People Gained an Education” presentation held by local author

A history lesson about the love of learning and how gaining an education was worth risking one’s life is what historian and author Anthony Brogdon presented to an audience Tuesday afternoon.

Brogdon gave a presentation on his book, “Black Business Book: Over 200 Facts With Emphasis on the History of Black Business in America 1800’s – 1960.” 

The stories of what many slaves had to go through to get an education are presented as short summaries in Brogdon’s book.

Brogdon said, “I offer the facts without commentary to get straight to the point.  I even number them to easily point to the reference section.”

He would pause briefly while reading so listeners could process the information being presented.

Official cover of “Black Business Book: Over 200 Facts With Emphasis on the History of Black Business in America 1800’s – 1960” by Anthony Brogdon

Reading from the third chapter, Brogdon said, “Even with the harsh conditions of slavery, Black people wanted to learn how to read, write and get a skill.”

He said they learned by teaching each other, their families and fellow slaves.

Brogdon read how slaves endured abuse and even faced death for their learning, but this did not stop them from continuing.

He read a story about Zack Hubert, a young boy from Georgia who learned to read and write because as a young boy, he was friends with the master’s son.

He said Hubert realized the importance of education and vowed if he ever gained his freedom, he would teach his children to read and write. All 12 of his children would go on to graduate college.

Brogdon told of the account of John Berry Meachum, a former slave who started a school in 1825. For the safety of his students, he built a raft and named it Floating Freedom School as he taught while they floated up and down the Mississippi River.

Black Americans who were enslaved and then freed fought for their education and earned degrees as doctors, lawyers and other professional specialties. Brogdon used his book to show how they used these degrees to help further the education process for their fellow Black Americans.

Brogdon said there are Black Americans who opened businesses in the 1800’s that are sill around today. R.H. Boyd Publishing was founded in 1896 by Rev. Dr. Richard Henry Boyd and is still publishing in Nashville, Tennessee where it started. E.E. Ward Moving & Storage was founded in 1881 and is still ongoing.

Brogdon’s book shares many more facts about the history of Black Americans.

Brogdon said, “There was a hunger by Black folks to gain an education no matter what the penalty, how they gained an education and that some were able to attend college– both Black and white institutions.”

The Black Business Book was written to share major moments in history, and Brogdon said, “ To feature some amazing Black history stories and at the same time cover major moments and offer this information in an easy to read and understand format.”

This event was held on Zoom and hosted by Emily Willcock, human resources assistant and DEI lead.