Mary Smith Kelsey Peake (1823–1862) taught many former slaves underneath Emancipation Oak. Sept 1861, she started a school near Fort Monroe, within present grounds of Hampton Univ. Supported herself as a dressmaker, & secretly taught from her home, instructing African Americans of all ages. Founded the Daughters of Zion to provide aid to the poor & the sick. In 1851 she married Thomas Peake, a former slave. Today, the city of Hampton honors Peake with a school, a street, & a park. African American
Jim Beckwourth was an African American who played a major role in the early exploration and settlement of the American West. Although there were people of many races and nationalities on the frontier, Beckwourth was the only African American who recorded his life story, and his adventures took him from the everglades of Florida to the Pacific Ocean and from southern Canada to northern Mexico.