Finding you" is the moment in your life where you want to establish your identity to the full potential of who you are. I believe we should not identify with society's view of what it wants us to abide by but characterize our self-expression. "Finding you," I think, is the guide to finding your ultimate happiness regardless of the situations or environment around you.
To find yourself, you must take a real honest look at your life and understand your values; I am not talking about a single, biased point of view. I am talking about understanding the positive and negative aspects of what you believe to progress in your life. "finding you" is broken down into six categories.
When one thinks of Black historical figures of civil rights a few names quickly come to mind names such as Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, and Jane Pittman. Today I chose to focus on an individual that is lesser known but had a strong impact in the civil rights movement. A woman who settled in San Francisco named Mary Ellen Pleasant, dubbed the “Mother of California Civil Rights”. Pleasant was a woman who lived in mystery, little is known about early beginnings. The whereabouts of her birthplace have been well disputed. As stated in her autobiography, “The Making of ‘Mammy Pleasant’: A Black Entrepreneur in Nineteenth-Century San Francisco,” by Sam Davis, she was born in Philadelphia in the year of 1814, although others say she was born a slave in Georgia. Her parents were said to be that of a Haitian Creole mother and a Kanakan Hawaiian father. She eventually relocated to Nantucket, Massachusetts at age 13 and worked as an indentured servant. During her time on the east coast as an adult she secretly worked with groups rescuing escaped slaves via the underground railroad, later bringing it to California. Shortly after the death her first husband, a wealthy plantation owner who freed his slaves, she acquired his estate and $40,000 worth of gold. With her new wealth she decided to head out west during “The Great Gold Rush Era” of San Francisco, to seek both a new life and business venture. Shortly after her arrival in 1852 she quickly established herself in San Francisco by running her own lodging, restaurants, laundromats, and stock in Wells Fargo bank. Pleasant was accepted in San Francisco by passing as either a white woman or black woman when needed. As stated, “While the wealthy white people of San Francisco society knew her as the white boardinghouse proprietress, San Francisco’s growing black community knew her real identity. She was known as The Black City Hall the place you go to get what you need, who helped black people get jobs on steamers, in white homes and in her own businesses.”-New York Times. She continued living a very secretive life, even sponsored John Brown’s (Abolitionist) three-day raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 donating $30,000 which is equivalent to $614,000 today. When Brown was arrested a letter initialed “MP” later identified as Mary Ellen Pleasant was found in his pocket and read, “The ax is laid at the foot of the tree. When the first blow is struck, there will be more money to help.”
Known as the “Mother of California Civil Right”, in 1866 she went to court against a trolley company that was segregated and refused to admit her or any other blacks onboard. After a long two-year court battle, she won her case against the trolley company, rewarding her along with all black people the right to ride the trolley. In 1865 Mary Ellen Pleasant finally decided to identify as black in that year’s census, and still maintained her business and wealth. Everything was running smoothly until San Francisco started to change in the 1880s, her once beloved city became “very much overtly racist”, says Sacramento writer Susheel Bibbs. Now known as very wealthy black woman, the wealthy white circle that at once accepted her suddenly began shunning and ridicule her. Even the press ridiculed and gave her the name “Mammy Pleasant”. Things didn’t stop there; she was then accused of converting homeless young women into prostitution. Her religion vodou was exposed during the nationwide Sharon vs Sharon trial of 1883(add link). Also, the rumor of her lodges being brothels were brought up on trial. During the court trial Pleasant was seen carrying a voodoo doll giving into the rumors of spell casting, claiming she would bring death to her accuser William Sharon. Strangely William Sharon mysteriously died shortly after the trail at the age of 64. After the trial she inherited yet another nickname the “Voodoo Queen”. In 1870’s Pleasant befriended a Bank of California clerk named Thomas Bell. With investment tips and guidance, they both made $30 million dollars. She later bought farmland and built a mansion in which her and Bell shared. Sadly in 1892 Thomas Bell was murdered in the mansion, putting Pleasant in the spotlight once again. Now she was being sued by Thomas Bell’s wife Teresa and accused of murder. Teresa Bell won her case and took possession of Pleasants whole multi-million-dollar fortune, self-built mansion, and farmland. The media of course took advantage of her downfall to further tarnish her name. She was accused of witchcraft, murder, child abuse and even eating babies. Soon after she was left homeless and died at 1904 at the age of 89. On her obituary reads, “Mammy Pleasant Will Work Weird Spells No More”- San Francisco Examiner. Before her death she had a request that was finally honored in 1965. It was that her gravestone to have one line that reads, “A Friend of John Brown”. Mary Ellen Pleasant lays rest at Sherwood family plot in Tulocay cemetery in Napa, California.
Her legacy is lesser known and forever will be a mystery, “The Gift of Black Folk” that Pleasant was “quite a different kind of woman and yet strangely effective and influential.” He added: “Here was a colored woman who became one of the shrewdest business minds of the State. She anticipated the development in oil. She was the trusted confidante of many of the California pioneers such as Ralston, Mills and Booth, and for years was a power in San Francisco affairs.” He said: “Throughout a life that was perhaps more than unconventional, she treasured a bitter hatred for slavery and a certain contempt for white people.”- The Gift of Black Folks
Welcome to Future Vibez Radio