Martin Delany (1812-1885) was an abolitionist, writer, soldier, physician, and black nationalist. Born free in Virginia, Delany
was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he became a physician’s assistant and worked tirelessly during the cholera epidemic
of 1833. Admitted to Harvard Medical School in 1850, Delany was dismissed after protests by white students threatened his
life. After traveling to the South in 1839 to witness the conditions experienced by slaves for the first time, Delany moved
to Rochester, New York to work with Frederick Douglass on his abolitionist newspaper The North Star. After a brief visit to
Liberia and several years in Canada, Delany returned to the United States at the onset of the Civil War, eventually working
as a recruiter for the United States Colored Troops and serving as the first African American field grade officer in the Army.
During Reconstruction, he moved to South Carolina, where he worked for the Freedmen’s Bureau and dedicated himself to activism
and politics. Delany was also a prolific pamphleteer, journalist, and novelist whose book Blake, or the Huts of America (1859-1862)
is considered a pioneering work of black nationalist fiction. Towards the end of his life, Delany devoted himself to the Liberia
Exodus Joint Stock Steamship Company, an expedition he envisioned as a response to the growing violence and voter suppression
faced by African Americans following the withdrawal of federal troops from the South in 1877. In his final years, Delany returned
to his work as a physician, supplementing his wife’s income as a seamstress in order to pay for their children to attend Wilberforce
College in Ohio.