A Life of Selflessness

Life takes us to unexpected places sometimes.  The

future is never set in stone, remember that.

Erin Morgenstern

            While observing Black History Month in the United States, I feel inspired of the many people of color pursing greatness in their own right.  We often see the familiar faces of Dr. Martin Luther King, Harriett Tubman, our favorite talented African American musicians, poets, sports leaders and the likes.  But what about those who aren’t remembered by a simple photo image or name recognition?  What about those who aren’t written in most history books or rarely given exhibit space in a museum?  The unsung Heroes and Sheroes of the past with selfless qualities are people I feel drawn to understand.   I’m sure no one who reads this writing can identify the human image below:

Betsey Stockton

Betsey Stockton was born into slavery in Princeton, New Jersey in 1798.  She belonged to Robert Stockton, a local attorney.  Presented to Stockton’s daughter and son-in-law, the Rev. Ashbel Green, then President of Princeton College, as a gift, Betsy Stockton was in a household that encouraged her ambitious and intelligent attitude.  She was given books and was allowed to attend evening classes at Princeton Theological Seminary.

When Stockton expressed her interest in becoming a Christian missionary she was granted her freedom and accepted into membership by the American Board of Commissions for Foreign Missionaries.  On November 20, 1822, Stockton and 20 other missionaries set sail from New Haven, Connecticut for the Hawaiian Islands.  Upon her arrival Stockton became the first known African American and ‘single’ woman missionary in Hawaii.

                During her time in Hawaii, Stockton started a school there for the maka’ ainana (common people) where she taught English, Latin, History and Algebra.  Stockton left Hawaii in 1825, returning to the mainland where she was assigned to teach Native American children in Canada.  She spent the final years of her life teaching African American children in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Betsy Stockton died in her hometown of Princeton, New Jersey in October 1865.

            From early on being labeled “property” to later being recognized as a “person,” Betsey Stockton gave of herself to educate others.  She ventured beyond her hometown to make a positive change in other hometowns.  She journeyed into unexpected places….yet managed and found delight in what she was determined to do. To be selfless is to discover your most hidden passion(s). Selflessness becomes a growing appetite! The well known Indian political ethicist Mahatma Ghandi said “Selfless action is a Source of Strength

            The charge for you is to become selfless and determine what to do in unexpected places. People let’s go out and do some good!