She Used Her Wealth To Buy Land And Help The Poor

Five women all with hats with a forest backdrop
Shonda Buchanan
October 4, 2020

After a 1,700 mile walk behind a 300-wagon caravan, “Biddy” Mason finally arrived at her new home in California – a free state! She couldn’t wait to breathe air as a free woman.

But it wouldn’t be that simple.

California had outlawed slavery. But Robert Smith, her devious owner, wouldn’t give her up and kept her status hidden! 

Despite her back-breaking work setting up and breaking down camp, cooking, herding cattle, and even birthing countless babies – all while caring for her own three daughters – he refused.

Finally, after five years of being held in slavery illegally, she confronted him, demanding freedom! But he was already planning to move his family, and the people he called his property, to Texas – where slavery was legal. Was it too late?

Biddy Mason begged friends, a free Black couple, for help. They called the Sheriff, who “confiscated” Mason just as they were about to leave the state. Mason sued Smith for her freedom, and won!

But that wasn’t the end of her story.

Biddy Mason was born enslaved, but by using her wits and skills, she died one of the wealthiest Black women in America. She used the $3 million she amassed to help the poor, educate youth, and found the First A.M.E. Church in L.A.

Like Mason, we can change our destinies and prosper with our skills, hard work, persistence and determination!

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