Black History Month Feature: Who is…Martin Delany?

By: Daniel Sanvee

Part One in the “Who Is…?” Series

Martin Delany was born a free man on May 6, 1812 in Charlestown, Virginia. His mother Pati, who was also free, was determined to educate her children no matter the cost.
Virginia was a slave state; African Americans who were able to read and write were persecuted severely.
With this burning desire to make sure her children have a strong foundation in education, she moved her family to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. It was there that Delany began to become aware of his roots and desired to do something about the oppression of his own people.
He later went on to become very active in abolitionist activities that would help relocate fugitive slaves, form organizations that would help promote black excellence and moral reform and aid mass recruits for the Civil War (of which he enlisted himself in) in 1865. He became the only African American officer to gain the rank of major during the Civil War.

He even worked with many notable abolitionists, such as Frederick Douglass who hired him to write for his paper The North Star. He was a very passionate man focused on bringing African-Americans forward and out of slavery and oppression.
He later died of tuberculosis on January 24, 1885 in Wilberforce, Ohio.



  1. Butler, G. (n.d.). Delany, Martin Robison (1812-1885). Retrieved February 7, 2016, from http://www.blackpast.org: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/delany-major-martin-robison-1812-1885
  2. Editors, B. (n/a, n/a n/a). Martin Robison Delany Biography. Retrieved February 7, 2016, from The Biography.com website: http://www.biography.com/people/martin-robison-delany-9270228

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