Maria W. Stewart, was a free black woman who lived in Boston, Massachusetts, from the early 1820s to the early 1840s. She was the first American born woman to lecture in public on political themes and likely the first African-American to speak out in defense of women s rights.
A forerunner to Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass, she was intensely religious and was regarded as outspoken and controversial in her time. For more than a century Maria W. Stewart’s life’s contributions have remained obscured, illustrating the double pressures of racism and sexism on the lives of African-American women.
The life of Maria W. Stewart, a free black woman who lived in Boston, Massachusetts, from the early 1820s to the early 1840s is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious.
Maria W. Stewart was personified by Chautauqua Scholar, Professor Sandra Kamusukiri, during the 1996 Democracy in American Chautauqua held in Ukiah, California. Professor Kamusukiri is an Associate Vice President Emeritus, of the Emeritus English Faculty of the California State University at San Bernardino. I met with her, posing as Maria W. Stewart, and began our visit when I asked Maria W. Stewart to explain the differences between the lives of free black women in the northern states and black women who were slaves in the southern states.
The book that Maria W. Stewart recommends is the Bible.
The book that Sandra Kamusukiri recommends is “Maria W. Stewart, America’s First Black Woman Political Writer: Essays and Speeches,” edited by Marilyn Richardson
The program was originally broadcast in 1996.
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