Thomas T. Fortune House Essay

1965 words - 8 pages

“Can you imagine being born a slave in Florida and living in a beautiful Second Empire mansion in New Jersey?” Primavera asked. “It’s a remarkable American history story. I think what’s left of the house could be easily restored to a sufficient level so the story could be told in an incredibly effective way” (Shockley). Thomas T. Fortune was an important journalist in the history of America who was born into slavery in the state of Florida. He was an educated man and one of the most influential African-American journalists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Thomas T. Fortune played an important role in the civil rights movement in America and he deserves to be memorialized in an attempt to remind future generations of the leaders that fought for their rights they have today. Fortune’s house in Red Bank, New Jersey was listed as a historical landmark in 1976 that is currently endangered and vacant. There is currently a fight to keep his house and make it into a cultural museum or tear it down in order to build other miscellaneous buildings for the town.
Thomas T. Fortune was born on October 3rd, 1856 and died on June 2nd, 1928. “T. Thomas Fortune was born a slave in Marianna, Florida, on October 3, 1856, and was freed by the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863” (PBS). Fortune was luckily able to be educated as a child unlike most freedmen.
“He attended a Freedmen's Bureau school taught by two Union soldiers in an African American church in Marianna and also worked in the offices of a community weekly newspaper, where he learned to "stick" type, a skill that provided him with the "rudiments of the trade that w[ere] to determine his life work” (Carle 1487).
Thomas T. Fortune was one of few African American men to be educated as a child and to be able to work in safe and desirable conditions. Thomas worked for various jobs throughout Florida while sending money home to his family as well as saving up to go to college. He was then able to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C. “There, Fortune obtained all the higher education he would receive before embarking on his national career as journalist and race activist, including instruction in law” (Carle 1488). Thomas was able to attend Law School as just “one of five students in Howard's law department for the 1877-1878 term” (Carle 1490). Fortune unfortunately did not finish college and did not receive a degree because of financial hardships. Even though he did not finish law school he still gained a lot of knowledge during the time he was there, “Fortune gained an understanding of fundamentals, especially in American constitutional law, which was reflected in his writings in later years” (Carle 1493). Thomas T. Fortune held several unsuccessful jobs before he landed his mark as the managing editor of the newspaper New York Globe in 1883, “thus launching himself at the age of twenty-five into a career as a national public intellectual” (Carle 1494).
Thomas T. Fortune’s paper was...

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