The African-American experience in columbus blog
This blog features brief articles on the African-Experience in Columbus from the Underground Railroad to the civil rights era.
By Doreen Uhas Sauer
On April 10, 1844, David Jenkins, an African-American leader and editor of the Palladium of Liberty, announced in his newspaper there would be a “grand rally of the colored people of the State for liberty and right on Wednesday the 18th of September, 1844” in Columbus.
Born in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1811, Jenkins came to Columbus in 1837, where he became active in the Underground Railroad. The Palladium of Liberty was published in Columbus from 1843-1844, following organizational meetings at the Second Baptist Church. As the editor, Jenkins used his paper to call for social justice against the state’s Black Laws. He was a respected political force, and almost single-handedly created the first schools for African-American children in the city.
The following excerpt from his paper reveals a great deal about the tactics Jenkins used, the nature of labor among African-American men in Ohio, and his moral determination. He urged:
At 10 o’clock A.M. on this occasion we want to see every community (in Ohio) represented, and if possible every colored man present; the time has come when each should feel it to be a duty which he owes to himself—to his race—and to his God to raise in the majesty of unangered, yet unawed manhood and contend for that which the inhuman citizens of his professed free State have deprived him. To be present at this Convention, the teacher should leave his school—the farmer—should leave his plow—the barber—should leave his chair—the laborer—should leave his work—and the steward should leave his lord, for they all have rights given them by God, which they have lost by the oppression of tyrants, Come if you can’t read—come if you have not a nice suit of clothes—come if you have no money—come if you have to walk! Come not—for vanity or might: Come up for LIBERTY AND RIGHT!”
Although the newspaper was short-lived, Jenkins continued his activism during and after the Civil War. He became a recruiter for the 127th Ohio Infantry during the Civil War. During Reconstruction, Jenkins moved to Mississippi, where he was appointed to the Freedmen’s Bureau.
Click here to read more excerpts from the Palladium of Liberty.
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