Women's Activism NYC

Biddy Mason

1818 - 1891

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Biddy Mason was an American Nurse, real estate entrepreneur and a philanthropist. In 1818, Biddy was born a slave in Mississippi, in most of her childhood, she worked on John Smithson's plantation which was in South Carolina, she was given to his cousins Robert Marion Smith and Rebecca Crosby Smith, in Mississippi as a present. Biddy had learned about herbal medicines, from others around her and had given birth to her three daughters, Ellen, Ann, and Harriet. In 1848, Mason went on a long ride and traveled 1,700 miles behind a 300-wagon caravan. On 1856, Mason went to petition in court for her freedom and freedom for her family of 13 women and her children. The Los Angeles District judge Benjamin Hayes in a matter of three days had ruled in favor for Mason, and cited in California's 1850 constitution which prohibited slavery. Mason had moved to California and her daughter married the son of Robert and Minnie Owens. Mason was at the same working as a midwife and nurse, and then she went to purchase a land in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Mason had also established the first A.M.E Church, which is the oldest African American church in the city. Mason was an philanthropist to the entire community and had educated her children. In 1891, Mason had passed away in Los Angeles. Mason's grandson had become a real estate developer and a politician and was one of the wealthiest African American in Los Angeles one time. In November 16, 1989 was declared Biddy Mason Day in Los Angeles.

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