Reflect: Key People, Connections and Discussion questions

This page is about reflection. You’ll find a list of some of the key people and organizations relevant to this section. You’ll also find a section called intersectionality to encourage thinking about how different issues are connected, and discussion questions to encourage deeper thinking.

Take some time to answer the questions, look these people up and learn more about their stories.

The content on this site is not complete: there are countless numbers of people and so many stories — from small acts of defiance to major leadership positions —  that didn’t get recorded or that don’t often make it into textbooks.

This website is meant to be grown and improved upon. We’ve included some of the heroes, but if you know people we are missing, let us know so we can include their stories too.

Some Key People & Groups

  • Sir William Blackstone
  • Paul Cuffee
  • Gerrit Smith
  • Robert Purvis


While politicians in the Minnesota Territory supported the abolition of slavery in the south, they did not support Black suffrage during this time.

This means that at a time when slavery was seen as something that needed to come to an end, you were still not afforded the right to vote as a Black man. Being a Black woman was an added layer (or intersection) of oppression because women as a whole were not able to vote.

Think of how you would experience life differently based on the color of your skin and gender during this time. The decisions being made by white, male voters might have impacted you differently if you were non-white or a woman, because you did not have adequate representation, and issues of race and gender were of less priority to the people in power.

This is intersectionality.

Discussion Questions: 
Why do you think white people feared the idea of African Americans gaining political power? What types of things might they have thought would happen? Do you think “fear” is an appropriate description?
The 1838 Reform Convention in Pennsylvania rewrote the state Constitution to exclude Black voters after receiving petitions from “thousands of worried white citizens”. What do you think that says about the political power of everyday citizens, whether their motives are good or bad? How does that power change if the people petitioning don’t have the right to vote?
Did you know several Black men voted in pre-Independence U.S.? Do you think our history would be different if the right to vote was never taken away from those men?