Melissa Greenspan: Remember Elizabeth Freeman, too, for Emancipation Day

Published: 07-20-2023 4:08 PM

I was surprised and somewhat dismayed to see that Sharon Tracy’s guest column on Emancipation Day [“Let’s celebrate Emancipation Day for Quock Walker’s stand in 1783,” Recorder, July 7], did not mention Elizabeth Freeman (also a western Mass. resident). According to Wikipedia, Ms. Freeman ” was the first enslaved African American to file and win a freedom suit in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling, in Freeman’s favor, found slavery to be inconsistent with the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution. Her suit, Brom and Bett v. Ashley (1781), was cited in the SJC’s appellate review of Quock Walker’s freedom suit. When the court upheld Walker’s freedom under the state’s constitution, the ruling was considered to have implicitly ended slavery in Massachusetts.” A lovely statue of her was unveiled in Sheffield almost a year ago. While I don’t question the need to honor Quock Walker and celebrate Massachusetts Emancipation Day, not also honoring Elizabeth Freeman seems unfair.

Melissa Greenspan



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