Sarah Jane Early fought for education for Black women
On this date in 1825, Sarah Jane Early was born. She was a Black teacher, abolitionist, and feminist.
Sarah Jane Woodson Early was born in Chillicothe, OH, the daughter of Thomas and Jermimma Woodson. Much of her feminist and Black community involvement took place through the African Methodist Church (AME) and a number of Black educational institutions. In 1856, she earned an L.B. degree from Oberlin College, becoming one of the first Black women to receive a college degree. From 1859 to 1860, while working at Wilberforce University, Early became the first Black woman college faculty member.
She taught in a number of Ohio’s Black community schools, and from 1860 to 1861, was a principal of the schools in Xenia, OH. In 1868, Early went to teach at a school for Black girls in Hillsborough, N.C., run by the Freedmen’s Bureau. That same year she married Rev. Jordan W. Early, a pioneer in the AME Church movement. She assisted in his ministry while teaching throughout the South, and in 1894, she chronicled her husband's work in the book, "The Life and Labors of Rev. J.W. Early.
Preaching and practicing her belief in the role of Black women in racial uplift, Early was appointed superintendent of the Colored Division of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) in 1888. Sarah Early died in August 1907.
Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York
Early, Sarah Jane