Martin Delany would have been born a slave had he been born in any other state but Virginia. Born in 1812, Delany was the offspring of a slave father and a free mother. At the time of his birth, the law in Virginia was that children were given the status of their maternal parent which made Martin “born free”. Martin Delany was rumored to be the descendant of African nobility which, although not verified, cannot likewise be disproven. It was illegal for blacks to be taught or learn to read and Delany’s first reading text was the New York Primer and Spelling Book which he received as a gift.
After authorities discovered that he had access to the book, his mother fled with her children to Pennsylvania, avoiding prosecution. Delany was among the first three black students to be accepted to Harvard Medical School in 1850. His attendance was short lived as with pressure from white supremacists, all three students were abruptly expelled Notwithstanding his premature stay at Harvard, Delany played a pivotal role in the treatment of patients during the Cholera outbreak in Pittsburgh during 1953-1954.
Although born during slavery, literally self-taught and marginalized by racism, Martin Delany was able to save lives due to his intelligence and determination to succeed as a “free black man.” Like Martin Delany, with determination you can beat the odds and become what you will! Buy and wear a Martin Delany t-shirt to show that you have beaten the odds or; you will conquer and succeed regardless of whatever obstacles you may encounter. Show that you are not a slave! You are “born free!”
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