George Edwin Taylor was born in 1857 to a free mother and a father who was enslaved. In 1859, Arkansas passed the “Free Negro Expulsion Bill,” which forced free Black people out of the state.
Taylor and his mother made their way to Illinois, but tragedy struck - she died of tuberculosis when George was only five!
He was taken care of by various Black families. At 20, he was accepted to college and studied writing - but had to drop out because he couldn’t afford tuition.
Despite all of this, Taylor was determined. A talented writer, he began writing for Black newspapers.
He also got involved in politics in both the Republican and Democratic parties, but realized neither had Black people’s interests at heart. He worked with third parties, and the Black-led National Liberty party nominated him as their presidential candidate for the 1904 election!
Though he didn’t win, the campaign was about sending a message: “[M]ost white folks take me as a joke,” he explained, “but… the colored man is… beginning to see that he has got to take care of his own interests, and… has the power to do it.”
After overcoming incredible odds - due to the care of Black community - Taylor rose to national prominence, despite starting at the bottom! And he never forgot who he was.