Black History Month: Unrecognized Historic African-American Figures Series pt.3

Jonyce Bland

Black History month is a celebration and remembrance of Black excellence. It is held in the month of February, and is observed (recognized) by the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands. In this month, we remember all of the African-American figures that contributed to make society what it is today. From well-known public figures such as Martin Luther King to obscure people such as Noble Drew Ali, the founder of the Moorish Science Temple of America in Newark, N.J. It is imperative to remember all of the unrecognized lives that contributed to our ‘freedom’ today.
Part three of our series…
Robert Smalls (April 5, 1839 – Feb. 23, 1915)

Robert Smalls was an African-American born into slavery in Beaufort, S.C. During and after the American Civil War, he became a ship’s pilot, sea captain, and politician.
He freed himself, his crew and their families from slavery on May 13, 1862, when he took over  the CSS Planter, in Charleston harbor, and sailed it north to freedom. This successfully helped persuade President Abraham Lincoln to accept African-American soldiers into the Union Army. As a politician, Smalls authored state legislation that gave South Carolina the first free public school system in the United States.