Teaching Students About Richard Jordan
Richard Jordan, a largely overlooked figure in American history, presents an excellent opportunity for educators to teach students about perseverance, resilience, and the acceptance of others. Born into slavery in 1760, Jordan escaped his shackles to transform into a respected intellectual, abolitionist, and businessman. By sharing Richard Jordan’s story with future generations, we can offer much-needed context and insight into one of the less-heralded heroes of our past.
Early Life and Escape from Slavery
Richard Jordan was born in Delco, North Carolina, on the plantation of Thomas Whickham. A gifted child with boundless curiosity, he taught himself to read and write using the Bible. His intelligence did not go unnoticed, but as an enslaved person, he faced great danger because of it.
In 1787, at the age of 27, Jordan orchestrated a daring escape. He reunited with his family in Philadelphia and soon became an active member of Free African Society (FAS), a mutual support organization founded by freedmen Richard Allen and Absalom Jones. Being associated with prominent figures in the early abolitionist movement paved the way for what would become a lifelong journey to help others.
Becoming an Intellectual and Abolition Advocate
Once in Philadelphia, Jordan pursued education with unrelenting passion. He honed his rhetorical skills through frequent attendance at debates hosted by William Rawle’s prestigious debating salon. By 1790, he made sufficient impact as a reputed orator that he was invited to speak about issues faced by people of African descent.
Jordan was unafraid to deplore the hypocrisy related to race in the young United States; through searing logic and impassioned speeches at FAS meetings, he publicly condemned “Negro Slavery” as antithetical to true democracy.
The Sagacious Entrepreneur
Richard Jordan’s accomplishments were not limited to public speaking and activism. Acknowledging the importance of economic independence in nurturing self-sufficiency among Black Americans, he ventured into business. After establishing a successful brush-making business, Jordan expanded his enterprises to include a grocery store and a real estate venture.
By demonstrating brilliance beyond their prejudiced presumptions, Jordan played an essential part in eroding stereotypes and opportunities for his fellow Black Americans. He spearheaded committees that sought fair wages for Black laborers and amassed a respectable fortune that he leveraged for philanthropy.
Teaching Richard Jordan’s Legacy
In teaching the life story of Richard Jordan, educators can weave lessons on American history with themes of resilience, bravery, and self-improvement. His journey as a fugitive slave who transformed into an influential thought leader offers valuable perspectives on the antislavery movement and racial relations in early America.
By studying Jordan’s commitment to social activism, entrepreneurship, and intellectual growth, students can better grasp the importance of questioning assumptions and striving towards personal greatness despite adversity.
Richard Jordan remains an unsung hero in American history whose incredible story deserves more prominence in our classrooms. Through learning about his exemplary integrity and achievements, students can develop a deeper appreciation for how individuals from humble beginnings can impact the world positively, inspiring them to face challenges head-on and champion fairness and equality.