Saturday, January 30, 2010

An All Black Play

William Wells Brown published the first black drama, “Leap of Freedom” on January 30th 1858.

William Wells Brown was born November 6th 1816 in Lexington Kentucky, a slave. His mother was Elizabeth and she was owned by a Dr Young, his father was a white cousin of Dr Young. Brown spent most of his early years in St Louis, Missouri, where he was hired out to work on the Missouri River. He escaped on New Year’s Day 1834, slipping away from a steamboat while it was docked in Cincinnati, Ohio. Brown settled in Buffalo, New York were he found work on a Lake Erie steamboat.

The Anti Slavery Society asked Brown in 1843 to come lecture, and he soon became a well known public speaker. He wrote and published a great deal, including the play “The Escape; or a Leap for Freedom” published January 30th 1858. It was the first all black drama ever published. Brown died at his home in Chelsea, Massachusetts November 6th 1884.

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