a nineteenth-century American girl
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Maritcha Remond Lyons was born a free black in 1848. Her home was lower Manhattan and her family and family friends were an amazing assortment of highly educated, noteworthy, and prominent free black families. Her mother and father ran a boardinghouse for black sailors that doubled as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Blacks were a particularly small portion of the New York City population at this moment in history but at least they were getting along until the Draft Riots hit. In 1863, as Maritcha turned fifteen, her family was forced to flee their home and leave New York altogether. From there on in the girl went on to make history. At the age of sixteen she spoke in front of the Rhode Island state legislature so that they would allow her to attend the school of her choice. When she grew up she became the assistant principal at Brooklyn's Public School No. 83 and wrote an unpublished memoir. The memoir, in turn, fell into the hands of author Tonya Bolden and the rest is "Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl".
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