She Knew Her Value And Demanded ALL The Money For It
Belinda Sutton was an African enslaved woman kidnapped at 12, transported to America, and sold to slave owner Isaac Royall.
When Royall fled the country during the American Revolution, a then 63-year-old Belinda stood up for her OWN rights and needs before the Massachusetts General Court.
Along with her written 1783 petition, her lawyer painted a moving narrative that contrasted Belinda’s happy and free childhood in her native land to that of back-breaking captivity building up and maintaining the Royall estate.
On that day, her sole mission was to boldly demand the compensation from his estate she so rightly deserved.
The court agreed, granting her a fifteen pound and twelve shilling annual pension.
But in 1785 the state missed a payment. And so Belinda once again refused to let his estate play with her money!
After five petitions over the course of a decade, Belinda recovered most of what was owed her from Royall’s stingy heirs.
Her court victory is one of the earliest examples of the many legal battles uncovered between enslaved people and their oppressors in which reparations were sought and, at times, recovered.
The well-documented resolve of Belinda Sutton reminds us that our people have BEEN fighting back - and WINNING - against our oppressors.
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