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A School Principal AND An Underground Railroad Agent; Finding the identity of C.L.R

170 years ago today, Freedom Seeker John Walker arrived in Philadelphia. All arrivals had teams of people to help them and in this case we see that two people, identified only with initials, 'examined' Walker.

One was J.C.W and we are 100% sure that this is Jacob C. White Senior because of the extensive archival evidence in the Jacob C. White series in the Leon Gardiner Collection at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

But we wondered who C.L.R. was. 🧐 Fortunately for us, William Still drops hints all over his book (The Underground Railroad) and we found a C.L.R. Person;

"Prof C. L. Reason."

This person had the term 'Prof.' in front of his name - 🏆which is one of those hints🏆. Because while there were several highly educated Black folk in Philadelphia in 1852, only a few of them had the formal higher education at a university that would enable them to use the term 'Professor'.

So we think that C.L.R is 🙌🏾 Charles L. Reason 🙌🏾.

Professor Charles L. Reason, Courtesy

There's a lot written up him on Colored Conventions Project and Wikipedia and the Embassy of Haiti! 🤩 He was the first Black person to teach at a predominantly white college.

We are doing our education tour this Saturday and we'll be walking past the site of the first Institute for Colored Youth (ICY) where he was Principal from 1852 to 1856. So we think he told us that we better mention him on Saturday!

But here's where the find comes in. I don't see Still's Underground Railroad or Journal C as a reference for his biography on any of the above sites. Which means that they haven't included what we love the most about C.L.R - That he was an Agent on the Underground Railroad and gave time, energy and effort to assisting Freedom Seekers to find new lives.

He's mentioned in the Underground Railroad where William Still reprints a December 9, 1852 Pennsylvania Freeman article describing the founding of the 1852 Vigilance Committee. He was one of the founders of the 1852 Vigilance Committee.

According to the Wikipedia page, he moved to Philly to take the ICY position in 1852. This means that he was immediately involved in emancipation activities.

He is mentioned three times in William Still's Journal C.

April 7, 1853

September 13, 1853 (170 years ago today!)

October 27, 1853

So we contend a lot on this site:

We contend that Philadelphia was a regional center for the flow of education, commerce, political and religious activities for the entire East Coast nation-within-a-nation of free Black people in the United States.

Professor Reason's move from New York to Philly to teach is one indicator of the education flow.

We contend that thousands of free Black people in Philadelphia gave significant portions of their time and energy to emancipation activities.

Here we see that professor Charles. L. Reason was certainly an example of that.

Click to read his thoughts on education here:

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