Essay by G. Melendez

It’s How I Was Born

Being bornas a slave I had many challenges. Never knowing what it was like to be able to do what I wanted to do. I was constantly listening to someone else telling me what to do, when to eat, and when to talk. I longed for what every African American longed for, freedom .

Early Years

My parents were both slaves, they had different owners but were allowed to live together in the same house. I was fortunate in my early years to be born a slave but not know I was a  slave because my childhood was happy .  My mother died in 1825, I was six years old and I was sent to live with her owner’s mistress, Margaret Horiblow .She was kind to me and she taught me to read and write. I expected to be freed after my mistress died, but instead I was given to her three year old niece. Dr. Norcome was her dad so he owned me and my brother.

I found the man I wanted to marry he was a free black carpenter but Dr. Norcome said no. I had children with a nice, kind lawyer friend. I was hoping that Dr. Norcome would leave me alone. When Dr. Norcome sent me away to live on his son’s plantation as a slave I knew my children would be made plantation slaves. I escaped so my children would not become plantation slaves. My lawyer friend and children’s father bought my children so they could live with my grandmother.

Years of Hiding

When I escaped my friends helped me hide and later I moved to my grandmother’s house. The living conditions were not good but my children were safe and that is what really mattered. For seven years I lived day and night in a small crawlspace . The space was nine feet long and seven feet wide the highest point ofthe crawlspace was three feet. The makeshift bed gave me a place to sleep and a roaming area for the mice and rats. My only exercise was crawling around the small enclosed space. I got my food and talked to the outside world from a trap door that my Uncle Phillip made. The only safe time to talk was in the still of the night. I could hear my children’s voices echoing but I longed to see their faces. One day I made a hole that I could peep out just to glance at them.


Finally my day of freedom arrived. I escaped at night and went to Philadelphia on a boat then I went to New York on a train. After my escape I became involved with the abolitionists movement. My friend Mrs. Cornelia Willis bought me in 1842. She gave me my freedom. Even my abolitionist’s friends were shocked when I wrote the book Incidents of a Slave Girl. After being freed and living in the north I was able to see my children again. I will never forget the torment of being a slave and being owned by someone but now I am free.

Essay by Trinity Copeland

The Hero in a Dress

By Trinity Copeland




There are a few reasons why I chose to write about Penelope Barker . I chose to write about her because I wanted to learn about a girl

in history, for a change, instead of a boy. I also chose her because she is a girl and I am a girl!  I wanted to feel like I could be a hero!

Penelope Barker was born in Chowan County, North Carolina in 1728. While she was still in her teens, her father and sister both died . Penelope began to handle her father’s plantation and took over her sister , Elizabeth ‘ s spot, caring for her children.

She married John Hodgson at a young age and was widowed at age 19. When her husband, John, died, she was left with two children of her own and a niece and two nephews, from her husband’s previous marriage. Penelope also had a large estate to manage.

Not too long after, Penelope married James Craven and they had three children. When she was 27 years old James died . He had no other family , so she got all of his estate and became the richest woman in North Carolina.

Thomas Barker was Penelope’s third husband. They had three children, but none of them lived for more than 11months. Penelope Barker was a one-of-a-kind woman in lots of ways, but she is mostly known for one thing . She is famous for hosting the Edenton Tea Party. She and 50 other women signed a declaration. The declaration protested unfair British taxes on the colonists. There was a Boston Tea Party, which inspired Penelope to host the one in Edenton. Penelope helped to make a change in our community and she is still a hero today because of what she did.

Penelope and the 50 women said this: “We, the ladyes of Edenton do hereby solemnly(sol-um-ly)  engage not to conform to ye pernicious (per­ ni-shus)  custom of drinking Tea or that we, the aforesaid (a-for-sed) Ladyes, will not promote ye wear of any manufacture from England until such time acts which ten to enslave this our Native country shall be repealed.” Barker said, “Maybe it has only been men who have protested the king up to now.  That only means we women have taken too long to let our voices be heard.  We are signing our names to a document, not hiding ourselves behind costumes like the men in Boston did at their tea party. The British will know who we are.”

Penelope Barker had lots of great character traits. Here are some:

She was caring because she took care of her sisters. She was brave, because she was the first woman to stand up against politics. She was courageous because she stood up for what she believed. She believed in fair government taxes. Penelope showed responsibility when she took over her father’s plantation, property and children. She also had to take care of her sister’s children when she died. Penelope could be called spunky, daring, bold, strong, resilient and irrepressible. Penelope died in 1796, she had lived a good life and made a change in the lives of her community. That makes her a hero!