Sarah Williamson, missionary in Africa
Sarah Williamson was born on this date in 1899. She was an African American teacher, administrator, and missionary.
Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Williamson was sent to boarding school at Hampton Normal School (now Hampton University). There she completed four years of high school and two years of normal school. After graduation she attended the University of Rochester in New York for two years training for missionary work in Africa.
Williamson sailed for Liberia in 1924. She was stationed at the Suehn Industrial Academy, becoming its third principal. Early in her missionary experience, Williamson was very discouraged to find that her translators were not interpreting her religious messages correctly.
She then decided to work with children, believing they could learn English more easily than their parents and they could teach her their language. She taught them to read and hoped that in return they would teach their parents to read the Bible.
Williamson was married and widowed twice. She returned to America in 1932. During her eight years in Africa, Williamson traveled extensively campaigning for money for her mission work. In 1954, she returned to Africa at the same school as its Dean of Girls, working there until 1957. Sarah Williamson died in Washington D.C. in 1986.
Black Women in America An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York
Today in American History