Summarized by Kent Larsen
Slave Who Made the Mormon Trek Subject Of Performance
Redlands CA Daily Facts 21Feb00 N6
(Cal State professor to portray pioneer woman of old Los Angeles)
REDLANDS, CALIFORNIA -- Biddy Mason, an African-American slave that
made the Mormon pioneer trek with her master, who had joined the
Mormon Church, is the subject of a program that will be presented by
Cal State San Bernardin professor Sandra Kamusikiri to the Redlands
Branch of the American Association of University Women on March 7th.
The public is invited to the Chautauqua performance.
Mason was the slave of Robert Smith, who joined the Mormon Church in
the southern United States. He then took his family and Mason and her
three children to Utah with the Mormon trek in 1847. Mason then went
on to California, arriving in San Bernardino, which was then the site
of a Mormon colony, in 1851. Shortly after she arrived, Mason filed a
lawsuit seeking her freedom based on the new California Constitution.
She won the case and her freedom, and in 1866 she became the first
Arican-American woman to own property in California. She later became
the one of the wealthiest women of color in California and one of Los
Angeles' most prominent citizens, and used her position and wealth to
found the first elementary school for African American children in
Kamusikiri is portraying Mason under a $500 grant from the California
Council for the Humanities, The free performance is at 7 p.m. in the
lounge of the University of Redlands Orton Center.