Harriet Graves Waring: Reluctant Founding Mother

Harriet Graves Waring was born free in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1796 into “tolerable circumstances,” as she described them. At seventeen, Harriet Graves married free black Colston Waring. They were, she remembered, “both very young, but bid fair to do well in life.” Waring felt called to preach and moved his young family to Petersburg. Harriet lacked his assurance that the Lord had called him to Petersburg, but she and their children accompanied him. It was a decade in which respectable and educated free black families such as hers hoped to gain from the spread of liberty promised in the American Revolution, but they were severely disappointed by the early 1800s. One response to the increased discrimination that they experienced was to consider emigration to the American Colonization Society’s colony of Liberia. Free blacks in Virginia’s port cities preferred to emigrate with entire families and often in church groups.

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Civil rights leader had close ties to Petersburg

In the early morning hours of Jan. 11, just over a week before the inauguration of America‘s first African-American president, Carl Winfield tied his hiking boots, put on his warm winter coat and began marching north fromPetersburg. Only two-and-a-half days, but 131 miles later, he arrived inWashington.

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