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May 6 set as Martin Delany Day

By Staff | Apr 27, 2012

The Jefferson County Commission, on April 19, presented George Rutherford, president of the West Virginia Branch of the NAACP, with a Resolution recognizing May 6, 2012 as Martin Delany Day on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Delany’s birth.

In the days when blacks were prohibited from learning to read, Martin Delany was taught to read by his mother, Pati. He became a barber, laborer and later, a physician’s assistant. He published “The Mystery,” an influential weekly publication focusing on black issues, co-edited “The North Star” newspaper with Frederick Douglass and later published “The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States.”

Born in Charles Town, Va., Delany’s accomplishments include speaking to a convention in Chatham, Ontario, Canada at the request of John Brown; traveling to Africa and England lecturing; and, after the Emancipation Proclamation, becoming a part of the Massachusetts 104th Regiment, recruiting blacks to fight for the Northern states. He was the first black commissioned field officer who later became active in Reconstruction era politics. He was appointed Trial Justice by the Republican party in South Carolina and later was appointed as Sub-Assistant Commissioner for the newly-formed Freedman’s Bureau.

Delany died at his home in 1885.