He Used His Creativity To Escape To Freedom And Help Save His Family

portrait of Henry Box Brown
Briona Lamback
November 24, 2021

Henry “Box” Brown yearned for freedom. But even more than that, he wanted his family to be unbound from their chains, too. In fact, he was willing to do ANYTHING to save them – and that’s what it took.

Growing up, Brown’s mother had warned him about family separation. Still, nothing could’ve prepared him to be split apart from his siblings and parents by enslavers.

Now his own family – his wife Nancy and three children – were being sold off. This inspired him to do something incredible in order to keep the family together.

Brown literally MAILED himself to freedom! He shipped himself, cramped in a box for a grueling 27-hour journey, from Virginia to Philadelphia. 

Enslavers never expected such a clever ruse. But would it be enough?

Once freed, he hustled up enough money to purchase his family – but their new enslaver tried to rip Brown off.

Brown paid a portion of their “sale” price to get more time – but the enslaver took his money and sold them anyway! Brown watched in agony as they were sent “down the river,” never to be seen again.

White supremacist systems have long separated Black families. It continues today through mass incarceration, police violence, and even immigration policy. We must always remain resilient and creative – and fight as hard as we can to keep our communities together!

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