In celebration of Black History Month, Whitney Miller is sharing interesting facts she learned while researching, writing and illustrating “Henry Boyd’s Freedom Bed” throughout the month on Instagram, @whitneyontv.
Several years ago, Lost Art Press hired Suzanne Ellison to spend several months looking through public archives for anything she could find related to Boyd’s life. She uncovered a fascinating life story, dispelled myths and uncovered some important truths. Suzanne’s work is always nothing short of impressive. As Suzanne wrote in this post:
Using historical documents and contemporaneous accounts we can reconstruct much of what Boyd did in his life and we can extrapolate ideas that were important to him. He was, however, always living in two worlds. At his birth, his white father owned him and his mother was enslaved; he received an education likely denied to others. He could start a successful business, prosper and be well-regarded, but his public life was proscribed by state Black Laws and threats of violence. He had a law-abiding public life countered by a dangerous hidden life of illegal acts to help escaped slaves. We can try to imagine how he felt to truly be a citizen and cast his first vote, but we can’t even get close. About his suffering while enslaved, or once he was free, we will never know.
We’ve shared Suzanne’s research with local museums, and it was the foundation upon which the Cincinnati History Museum created its installation on Boyd. This research also served as the foundation for Whitney’s wonderful picture book, “Henry Boyd’s Freedom Bed.”
If you don’t already follow Whitney on Instagram, you should. Her account is one of our favorites to follow. Check it out all month long as she shares facts about Boyd both in the book and not. These clips, suitable for all ages, serve as a great way for children to learn more about Boyd’s life too.
— Kara Gebhart Uhl