Christopher L. Webber to speak at the Olean Public Library on Tuesday Sept 27th at 7pm

Christopher L. Webber, author of American to the Backbone: The Life of James W. C. Pennington, the Fugitive Slave Who Became One of the First Black Abolitionists — Tuesday, September 27 at 7 pm

The incredible story of a forgotten hero of nineteenth century New York City–a former slave, Yale scholar, minister, and international leader of the Antebellum abolitionist movement.

At the age of 19, scared and illiterate, James Pennington escaped from slavery in 1827 and soon became one of the leading voices against slavery prior to the Civil War. Just ten years after his escape, Pennington was ordained to the ministry of the Congregational Church after studying at Yale. Moving to Hartford, he became involved with the Amistad captives and founded the first African American mission society.  He traveled to England as a delegate to a world Anti-Slavery Convention and served also as a delegate to an international peace convention.   Later he traveled widely in Britain and on the continent to gain support for the American abolition movement.  He was so respected by European audiences that the University of Heidelberg awarded him an honorary doctorate, making him the first person of African descent to receive such a degree.

From the Author
When I went to school, “Black History” was not taught.  I have learned a good deal about both black and white history while researching this book and the debt we owe to those who, like James WC Pennington called our country to fulfill the vision of the Declaration of Independence: that “all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”  That a man who was illiterate at the age of nineteen could be teaching school five years later is evidence of the potential so often wasted.  I hope this book will provide new evidence of the need to keep opportunities open for others to fulfill their potential.

About the Author
Christopher Webber is the author of more than two dozen books, including Reinventing Marriage and Beyond Beowulf. A graduate of Princeton University and a priest of the Episcopal Church, Webber has served parishes in New York and Connecticut as well as Tokyo, Japan, and has also written several hymns. His interest in James W. C. Pennington developed while compiling A Yearbook of American Saints. Webber lives with his wife on an old farm in northwestern Connecticut in a house lighted by solar panels and heated with wood he cuts and splits.
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