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Maria Fearing

1838 - 1937

Maria Fearing devoted much of her adult life to missionary work in the Belgian Congo. Born into slavery on a Sumter County plantation, Fearing was taught to read and write by her owner’s wife, who also encouraged her to join the Presbyterian Church. After the end of the Civil War, Fearing furthered her education at Talladega College and taught in rural schools. At age fifty-six, she moved to the Congo which was then under the brutal rule of Belgian King Leopold II. During her time in Africa, Fearing opened her home to young girls where she taught them literacy, domestic skills, and biblical lessons. Fearing also rescued children who had been captured for the slave trade and sheltered them in her home.

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Alabama Department of Archives and History

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