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For week ended February 27, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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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 Los Angeles.

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.


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