How Lear Green Escaped Enslavement In A Box

lear green in a box
Briona Lamback
April 25, 2023

“Ok. I think that’s everything,” Lear Green looked up from the cramped wooden chest with glassy eyes and a half smile. She was stuffed in an old sailor’s box with a quilt, pillow, few clothes, food, and a water bottle. 

Her fiance and his mother fastened the chest with heavy rope and loaded Green on the steamer, alongside the other freight, for the nail-biting journey.

William Adams, a free Black man, had repeatedly proposed to his love, but she always said no. “How can I perform the duties of wife and mother while burdened by the shackles of slavery?” Green asked Adams.

They were madly in love, but Green refused to bring a child into the world right under the thumb of anti-Blackness.

Mama Adams boarded and sat a few feet from the freight storage. She hurried to the sailor’s chest when night fell, untying the rope and lifting the lid so her daughter-in-law-to-be could get some fresh air. 

Meanwhile, Green’s enslaver had put a $150 reward on her head for her return.

After 18 long hours, the steamer pulled into Philadelphia's wharf. Eventually, Green continued to Elmira, New York, a free Black enclave, where she and Adams finally jumped the broom.

When we strategize against the system together, we can win. Resisting anti-Blackness in the name of love and liberation is always worth the risk.