In celebration of Black History Month, we would like to commemorate one of the great heroes of American history, Amos Fortune. Amos was born an African prince named At-mun. When he was only fifteen, slave traders kidnapped and auctioned At-mun into a life of slavery in Massachusetts, where he was renamed Amos. For nearly three decades Amos endured the injustices of slavery. However, he never lost hope for a future of freedom. Finally, Amos bought his freedom. Thereafter, he started his own tanning business in New Hampshire, saved money, and purchased freedom for many other slaves.
An Excerpt from Amos Fortune, Free Man
We recommend Elizabeth Yates’ emotional and encouraging biography Amos Fortune, Free Man as reading in our Challenge A program. Using Amos’ story, students discuss topics like the importance of education, perseverance through hardship, and the true meaning of freedom. Below is one of many powerful moments from Yates’ biography. The scene follows the death of a freed girl whom Amos and his wife Violet took into their home and cared for:
“Violet looked at him. Never before had she felt so much love for this man who seemed to live to give freedom to others. ‘You’d set all the world free if you could, wouldn’t you, Amos?’
He shook his head. ‘Just the part of it that I can touch. That’s all any man can do….
‘Once, long years ago, I thought I could set a canoe-load of my people free by breaking the bands at my wrists and killing the white man who held the weapon. I had the strength in my hands to do such a deed and I had the fire within, but I didn’t do it.’
‘What held you back?’
Amos shook his head. ‘My hand was restrained and I’m glad that it was, for the years between have shown me that it does a man no good to be free until he knows how to live, how to walk in step with God.'”
The True Meaning of Freedom
Amos Fortune teaches Christians an indispensable lesson—that true freedom is found when walking “in step with God” and pursuing Him.
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