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Dr. Martin Delany

 Dr. ​Martin Robinson Delany








​​Martin Robinson Delany was very proud to be a Black Man.  He had heard his grandmother, Graci Peace, tell many stories of their African heritage.  Some of his family could be traced back to the Great Golah and Mandingo tribes.  During a time when blacks were disliked, Martin Delany learned to be proud of his blackness.

Martin's father, Samuel, was a slave, but his mother, Pati was free.  Even though it was against the law, a traveling book seller had been teaching them to read.  So in 1822, Pati fled with her children from West Virginia to Pennsylvania.  In Pennsylvania they knew that they could continue to learn.  A year later, Samuel bought his freedom and joined in family.

At age 19, Martin Delany walked across the Allegheny Mountains to Pittsburgh.  There, he studied at an African Methodist Episcopal night school and learned medicine from a white doctor.  In 1850, Delany was admitted to Harvard Medical School.  He was there for only a month when he was expelled because he was Black.  However, two white doctors allowed him to continue to study medicine under them.  

In 1851, Delany returned to Pittsburg and was able to use his medical skills to help stop a cholera epidemic in that city.  During this time, Delany became an officer of the Pittsburgh Anti-Slavery Society.  He also worked for the Underground Railroad, helping fugitive slaves who were settling in Pittsburgh.  In this same period, Delany married Catherine Richards and they had seven children, each named after a  great black person in history!

In 1843, Delany began the first Black newspaper west of the Alleghenies.  Lacking financial support, it lasted only five years.  Delany then joined Frederick Douglass as co-editor of the North Star.  he was also very active making anti-slavery speeches all over the East and Midwest.  Sometimes his speeches, made before angry white crowds, placed his life in danger.

In 1852, Delany wrote the first Black nationalist book, The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States, Politically Considered.  ​It was disliked and criticized by almost everyone.  Delany thought Blacks should be segregated from Whites.  He believed that blacks should move to either Central America, South America or Africa.  At a time when many people believed that blacks were inferior to whites, Delany wrote of the proud history of blacks.

In 1858, Delany recieved permission to study the Valley of the River Niger in Africa.  He wanted to start a colony there.  By 1859, Delany's family had settled in Canada to escape the slave catchers.  He then left Canada and went to Africa to begin his colony.  In 1861,  Delany returned to the United States, but could not get blacks to move to his West African colony.

During the Civil War, Martin Delany became the first Black Major in the Union Army.  From 1861 until his death in 1885, Delany worked as a doctor and wrote many books and articles.  All his life, he tried to make life better for Blacks because he believed very deeply in the Greatness of his race.


Excerpt from ​A Gift of Heritage - Historic Black Abolitionists


This is only a summary of the Great Martin Robinson Delany.

THE GREAT DR. MARTIN R. DELANY