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Black Philadelphians’ Progression History of Slavery in Philadelphia

Black Philadelphians’ Progression – History of Slavery in Philadelphia | By DeAnn Cox 02/14/2023

History of Slavery in Philadelphia

Among many things, Philadelphia is known for its intricate role in helping enslaved Africans. For example, in the 18th and 19th centuries, Philadelphia grew to include free Black residents active in the abolitionist movement and as conductors in the Underground Railroad.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, Black Philadelphians actively campaigned against discrimination and continued to contribute to Philadelphia’s cultural, economic, and political life as workers, activists, artists, musicians, and politicians.

To commemorate Black Philadelphians’ progression, here is a short historical line with ten randomized facts we recommend you research and share with your loved ones.

  • In 1783, the free Black community in Philadelphia had grown to over 1,000 by the end of the Revolution.

  • In 1780, a policy of gradual emancipation was instituted in Pennsylvania.

  • In 1833, Black activists were founders and members of the national biracial group, the American Anti-Slavery Society.

  • In 1839 – 1871, Black Americans in Philadelphia, including Octavius V. Catto, organized to end segregation of the city’s schools and streetcars and regain the right to vote.

  • In 1880, the Philadelphia Black population rose to 32,000.

  • By 1935, African Americans owned 9,855 homes and 787 stores.

  • In 1964 – 1965, John Churchville and other activists gathered to form the Black Power Unity Movement.

  • In 1970, Philadelphia police raids of three offices of Black Power activists at gunpoint, in which they publicly strip-searched activists, made international news for their brutality and united the Black community in outrage.

  • In 1972, the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas was the first house of worship created by and for Black people in the United States.

  • In 1975, Cecil B. Moore won a seat on the City Council. C. Delores Tucker (1927-2005) became the first Black Pennsylvanian appointed to the secretary of state’s office

Today, people of African descent are the largest ethnic group in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is known as one of the most impressive Black histories in the country thanks to a host of incredible African American people who lived here and changed the world by making significant—and ground-breaking—changes in the fields of science, architecture, art, music, medicine, and astronomy.

For 2023 Black History Month, MileStone Academy features 28 incredible Black Heroes from Philadelphia.

Here are three MileStone Academy blogs that may interest you: