Fascinating African Americans You've Probably Never Heard Of

Chances are you've heard of Martin Luther King. Or Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X and similar African Americans. Not a year goes by when I don't hear or read about one of the above names. These names are popular in any civil right discourse around the world.

Chances are you don't hear much (or have never heard) of Stagecoach Mary Fields. Stagecoach Mary was a "gun-toting, cigar-smoking, saloon-dwelling mountain of a woman with larger-than-average-hands." At 6 feet tall, she towers above most women and many men. She outworked many strong men in a fashion that made her a supervisor on many jobs. Many resented her for this, not least because she was a black woman.

At a period when women were supposed to be frail and meek, Stagecoach Mary (then 60 years old) ran the star route - one of the most treacherous roads - for the US Mail. She did this even during winter periods. Also, she was the second ever woman to ever do this.

Chances are you have never heard much of Willie Kennard either. Willie Kennard was a man who, around the 1870s, wandered into a town terrorised by a criminal who had killed its marshall and raped a fifteen-year-old. Kennard got rid of the threat and became the town's new marshal. Though a few people tried to run him out of town, angry that a black man was the town's lawman, Kennard stayed on until the town's mining prospects declined.

The characters above experienced severe discrimination and hard lives, but their talents, tenacity, (with the help of a few kind people) made them shine in adversity as an example to all.

If you want to learn more about these fascinating souls and many more, check out Strange Fruit, Volume 2 (Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History) by Joel Christian Gill. It is well worth your time.


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