E’ry day this month, the Center for Black Educator Development, in partnership with Phillys7thWard.org, will highlight a Black Educator Hall of Famer.
But, don’t forget, e’ry month is Black History Month…February is just the Blackest.
Today, our featured Black Educator is Milla Granson.
Milla Granson, was born Lily Ann Granderson; enslaved in Virginia in 1816, however her life was one of incredible dedication and heroism to our people at the risk of her own welfare.
As a child, she was taught to read and write by the children of her captor while enslaved in Kentucky. Once that captor died, she was sold to another captor in Mississippi where she endured torture compared to her enslavement in Kentucky. “O, how I longed to die!” she told a friend; “and sometimes I thought I would die from such cruel whippings upon my bared body.”
However, it was in Mississippi where Granson defied the extreme risk and became a teacher to liberate her people. She was granted a transfer from the fields to the house. From there, Granson established a “midnight” school for the enslaved where she taught her people how to read and write. Classes would run from 11 pm to 2 am in a dark alleyway building where windows and doors were shut tight to avoid the harm inflicted upon them if caught. You’ve heard of night schools, but this was a liberatory night school.
Mississippi, like many other state laws, prohibited the teaching of Black people how to read and write.
Procedure for the school went as follows: Granson would accept twelve students at a time, graduate them after they were literate and then accept another group of secret students. Because of Granson’s teaching, several of her students were able to write their own “travel passes” and escaped to freedom. Granson taught hundred of Black people to read. She knew #BlackLiteracy was a crucial part of liberation. She was far ahead of many today who don’t prioritize literacy of our children.
The school lasted for seven years without word reaching the authorities. However, word of the school’s existence leaked. Yet Granson would be surprised that she wouldn’t be penalized. According to the law, no white person or free Black person could teach an enslaved person anything, yet the rule didn’t apply to an enslaved person teaching another enslaved person.
During the Civil War, Union troops arrived in Natchez, Mississippi to find Granson equipped to teach enslaved persons how to read and write. After the Civil War, Granson taught newly freed men and women in Freedmen schools as a member of the American Missionary Association.
When you hear pernicious lies about Black children, including educators, that Black children don’t care about learning, know with no level of uncertainty that it isn’t true – it has never been true. The truth is that those individuals who believe these false, harmful narratives, don’t care to teach Black children, nor do they care if they learn. Black people have risked life and limb to learn for their liberation. It is no different today. The importance of learning was in the face and heart of the enslaved and the oppressed. Black heroes led the way in establishing public education in the South and other places.
Conscious, righteous educators serve a crucial role in enlightening students, engaging them in their education, inspiring them with content and character development. We all can learn from one of our favorite freedom fighters of all time, the beyond courageous and impactful Milla Granson.
Milla Granson (Lily Ann Granderson); a member of the Black Educator Hall of Fame.
For more information on Milla Granson, visit the following site.
Thank you, thank you! I did not know of Miss Granderson. Now I do!
I NEED TO KNOW MORE .
THERE ARE CHILDREN IN THE BIBLE STUDY CLASS I ATTEND . MY HOPE IS TO SHARE AS MUCH HISTORY
ABOUT WHO WE ARE WITH THEM . AS A MEMBER THE PASTOR ALLOW EACH OF USE TO BRING INFORMATION
TO SHARE WITH THE STUDY GROUP DURING FEBUARY .
PLEASE KEEP ME ON YOUR WEBSITE
Lily Ann Granderson(Married name), Milla Granson(Slave Name), Lillie Ann Eliza Cox), was born in 1816 in Petersburg, Virginia. She died in 1889 in Natchez, Mississippi, where she was buried in the Natchez City Cemetery. She died at the age of 72 or 73. Her mother was enslaved at age three after Lily Ann’s grandmother, a freeborn woman of Native American descent, died. She worked as a house slave, and grew to know her master’s family quite well. The master’s children taught her how to read and write. She, in turn, secretly taught other slaves to read, which helped some to write passes that led to their freedom.
For about seven years this little slave school operated under the noses of the authorities. Lily Ann took on twelve students at a time. After they had learned to read and write, she graduated them and accepted another twelve under her charge. All told, hundreds of slaves passed through her classroom. But word of the school’s existence eventually leaked out. Worried that her former students would be punished for their learning, Granderson was surprised to find out that the local authorities did not prosecute her or them. While the slave code prohibited whites from teaching slaves and free blacks from teaching slaves, apparently there was no law prohibiting a slave from teaching another slave. Emboldened by the positive turn of events, she opened a Sabbath school along with her midnight school.
The last time people heard from her was when she was 54 years old, married, and with two children.