Today I read about Eliza Allen, who was born into slavery around 1840 in Westmoreland County, Virginia, eventually freed and worked as a laundress in Petersburg, Virginia. During this time, she ran several secret societies that allowed enslaved women to meet and pool resources for the needs of their families and communities. These societies were so powerful that some cities like Baltimore passed laws to ban them. Eliza joined Rev. William W Browne in organizing business fraternities and became the only woman listed on the charter of the “True Reformers Savings Bank,” the first Black-owned bank in the United States in 1889.
The impact of Eliza’s work providing access to mutual aid for enslaved people and running the business fraternity influences the mutual aid programs we see today. We support some like Lakeview Pantry, Greater Chicago Food Depository, and Brave Space Alliance, and I would love to know of any more that we can partner with in this work of mutual caring. Most of our communities have “Buy Nothing” groups which is another simple way to give, receive, share and lend and be joined with each other through this web of caring. I encourage us to find one in your neighborhood and join the group. And
- Make effort to shop at Black owned businesses,
- Donate to the work Anti-Racism daily
- Join us for worship this month as we celebrate Black music, the stories of Black people, the resilience and those who work tirelessly to bring justice to communities of culture.