Every day this month, the Center for Black Educator Development, in partnership with Phillys7thWard.org and the Education Post, 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 Hall of Fame Member is Margeretta Forten.
Margaretta Forten was born on September 11, 1806 in Philadelphia, PA. Forten is a true eduactivist with a family pedigree to boot.
Forten is the daughter of James Forten, an abolitionist and founder of the Convention of Color, along with Rev. Richard Allen of the AME church—tasked with debating the feasibility and desire of Black people to return to Africa as a colony. James and his wife, Charlotte Vandine Forten, headed a family of activists on behalf of Black people; including Margaretta, and two other daughters Harriet (1810-1875), and Sarah (1814-1883).
With Harriet, Sarah and mother Charlotte, Margaretta Forten became a charter member of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society in 1833 and was selected along with 13 others to draft the group’s constitution. Although the Society was predominantly white, historian Janice Sumler-Lewis claims the efforts of the Forten women in its key offices enabled it to reflect a black abolitionist perspective that oftentimes was more militant.
Forten worked on the society’s membership, education, petition campaign and annual antislavery fair committees, and was particularly active in the donation of books to Black schools—in addition to raising money for charitable causes related to abolition.
In addition to her work as an abolitionist, Forten was also an educator.
Margaretta was a teacher for almost four decades. During the 1840’s she taught at a school run by Sarah Mapps Douglass and in 1850 she opened her own grammar school. Lastly, she participated in the women’s suffrage movement. She helped collect petitions for the Women’s National League and helped organize the 1854 National Women’s Rights Convention in Philadelphia.
Forten’s example is one where activism and education worked hand in hand. To have a teacher who uses their work to fight on behalf of those folks who are oppressed is a great lesson for any student. It can serve as inspiration for not only entering the profession but to enter the profession with an aim towards activism on behalf of the community: both inside the classroom and outside the classroom.
Margaretta Forten; a member of the Black Educator Hall of Fame.
For more information on Margaretta Forten, visit the following site.