African American Activism: Relief for Refugees


Free African-American communities in many northern cities mobilized to provide food, clothing, shelter, and education for refugees. Elizabeth Keckley joined with other members of her Washington, D.C. church, Fifteenth Street Presbyterian, to form a Society for the Relief of Contrabands. They raised money and volunteered as teachers and aid workers in refugee camps in Alexandria and Washington, D.C. Wrote Keckley, "If the white people can give festivals to raise funds for the relief of suffering soldiers, why should not the well-to-do colored people go to work to do something for the benefit of the suffering blacks?" This image depicts a Freedman's village called Greene Heights, located in Arlington, Virginia.