Life as a Slave

Black’s Life as a Slave

Leonard Black was born into slavery in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Black was a slave for over twenty years, changing hands multiple times and being severely abused by his owners; his belongings were often taken from him and he was beaten often without provocation. His brothers, who he reunited with in his original home, escaped from slavery and left Black and another brother behind.

Black’s attempts to read were stopped by his master, who burned his first book. His second book, which he bought with his own money, was stolen by his master and given to the master’s child.

Black writes in his book, The Life and Sufferings of Leonard Black: A Fugitive from Slavery, that he was awakened by hearing the Holy Spirit in 1836. It said to him: “Give me of your oil,” and he was convinced to become Christian.

In 1937, Black decided to escape to freedom. He made plans with a slave named Henry. Henry then turned on Black, telling his master of Black’s plans to run away. Nonetheless Black escaped; he was forced to leave behind his clothes and money in a rush. He left for Boston. Many whites tried to capture him, creating traps or chasing him with dogs.

Belknap street Church, now known as the African Meeting House

Leonard Black attempted to find his brothers, but found an unrelated Mr. Black instead. He married this man’s daughter and was sent to school.

Leonard Black was baptized in Boston and joined the Belknap street Church.