Mary Ellen Pleasant had a life filled with drama and intrigue. She was born into slavery in Georgia on August 19, 1914, but she didn't let her circumstances define her. Instead, she used her intelligence, entrepreneurial spirit, and determination to fight for her freedom and become one of the most prominent figures in Black history.
When Mary Ellen was only nine years old, her mother arranged for her to be sent to New Orleans, where she was sold to a wealthy French merchant. She worked hard as a servant in his household, but she was determined to gain her freedom. When she was 18, she saved enough money to buy her own freedom and move to San Francisco, where she became an entrepreneur and a philanthropist.
Mary Ellen Pleasant quickly became known as a savvy businesswoman who could make a fortune from almost anything. She ran several successful businesses in San Francisco, including a boardinghouse and a catering company. She also invested in real estate, buying properties all over the city and renting them out to tenants.
But Mary Ellen's success didn't come without controversy. She was known as a successful negotiator who would do whatever it took to get what she wanted. She was rumored to have influenced the outcome of the California Supreme Court case that resulted in the desegregation of the city's public transportation system. She was also accused of practicing voodoo and using her powers to manipulate people.
Despite her controversies, Mary Ellen Pleasant was a champion of civil rights and a staunch supporter of the abolitionist movement. She used her wealth and influence to help fund the Underground Railroad and to provide shelter and support for escaped slaves. She also fought against discrimination and segregation in San Francisco, often using her wealth and connections to push for change.
Mary Ellen Pleasant lived a long and fascinating life, full of drama and adventure. She died in 1904, in San Francisco, California, but her legacy lives on as a symbol of Black excellence and perseverance. Ms. Mary Ellen Pleasant, we proudly stand on your shoulders.
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