By Lestey Gist, The Gist of Freedom
Day was born in New York City, where his mother, Eliza, was a founding member of the first AME Zion Church and an abolitionist. His father, John, was a sailmaker who fought in the War of 1812 in Algeria. On 1815, he died when his son was four. William Howard Day made an impression as a child, on a white ink manufacturer who was an advocate of abolition and temperance. He asked Mrs. Day to give him custody of William. This white family, known as the Willistons of Northampton, MA, raised him.
Day attended Oberlin College. After graduation, he spent the rest of his life campaigning for the rights of Blacks. He became the secretary of the National Negro Convention in Cleveland in September 1848. He was a committee member along with Frederick Douglass and others who generated the “Address to the Colored People of America.”In 1858, Day was elected president of the National Board of Commissioners of the Colored People by the Black citizens of Canada and the United States.
Day traveled to the United Kingdom in 1859, preaching at a large congregational church in Lincolnshire, England, and he worked with the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). While in England, he and several colleagues formed the African Aid Society.
In 1879, Day also opened Livingstone College with J.C. Price, William H. Goler, and Solomon Porter Hood. It was established in Salisbury, NC, for Black students, which remains a predominantly black college.