Milla Granson Taught Hundreds of Slaves to Read and Write With “Midnight School”

1 Posted by - September 26, 2018 - BLACK WOMEN, LATEST POSTS

was actually born “Lily Ann Granderson.” She was born into but grew to be a great influence on many young lives during her life time. She existed during a time when enslaved Africans were not allowed to read and write. But Granson grew up in her master’s home and were close to his children who taught her how to read and write. When her master died she was sold to a Mississippi slaveholder and put to work in the cotton fields. But she was soon transferred to work in the main house, where she started a “midnight school”. Mississippi law prohibited the literacy of slaves; learning and teaching had to be done secretly, and at the risk of severe punishment.  Granson went on to teach hundreds of slaves how to read and write between the hours of eleven o’clock p.m. and two o’clock a.m.

Since whites were not allowed to teach slaves how to read and write, Granson had figured out it was not against the law for other slaves to teach one another. Her classes often consisted of 12 students at a time. Many of Granson slave students wrote their own “passes” and headed to Canada for freedom. As a freedwoman, Granson was hired as a teacher by the American Missionary Association. Records of the Freedmen’s Bank in Natchez indicate that she opened an account there in 1870; she was fifty-four years old, still teaching, married, and a mother of two.



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