Black Women in History
A statue honors a once-enslaved woman who won her freedom in court
The story of an enslaved woman who went to court to win her freedom more than 80 years before the Emancipation Proclamation had been pushed to the fringes of history.
A group of civic leaders, activists and historians hope that ended Sunday in the quiet Massachusetts town of Sheffield with the unveiling of a bronze statue of the woman who chose the name Elizabeth Freeman when she shed the chains of slavery 241 years ago to the day.
Her story, while remarkable, remains relatively obscure.
State Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli grew up not far from Sheffield in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts yet didn’t hear her story until about 20 years ago. He found that many of his colleagues in the Statehouse were also largely in the dark about the…