Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"A Free Woman On God's Earth" by Jana Laiz & Ann-Elizabeth Barnes and illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers

Reviewed by Miss Dewey at Orenda

Four paw prints. During the late 1700s, before the United States even existed, slavery was legal in the 13 British colonies. In 1751,a seven-year-old girl was taken from her family in New York and given as a "gift" to a family in Massachusetts. This girl was named Elizabeth and she grew up to become Mumbet, a respected member of her community. But she was a slave and respect doesn't mean much without the addition of freedom. During the time leading up to the American Revolution and the creation of the United States of America, Massachusetts created its own constitution stating that all men are born free and equal. Mumbet was smart; she knew some of the men who created this Constitution and she used these new laws to sue for her freedom. Mumbet became the first slave in Massachusetts to sue for her freedom and WIN! Her legal case even led to the freedom of other slaves in Massachusetts. This book was wonderful. I had never heard of Mumbet before, but I found this book and her story to be fascinating. Who could have guessed that a woman who was born and raised as a slave, had never been to school, and had never learned how to read, could be smart enough to understand new laws enough to sue for her freedom? I think all young students should be taught about Mumbet and her contribution to the end of slavery in Massachusetts. There isn't much information about Mumbet on the web but should be a good place to start.

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