The 200th birthday celebration of Ellen Garrison Clark will be held this Saturday from 10:00 am – 12:30 pm at the Mountain View Mortuary Sunrise Chapel in Altadena.
By News Desk
Ellen Garrison Clark was the granddaughter and daughter of enslaved men who moved to the Pasadena/Altadena area in the late 1800s. After contracting consumption, she died in 1892 and was buried in Mountainview Cemetery in an unmarked grave, an oversight that was corrected in 2021 by the Altadena Historical Society when they organized to place a headstone on her grave.
Clark’s family legacy is illustrious to say the least, and from what we know it begins with the history of her grandfather, Cesar Garrison, who fought in three wars including the American Revolution.
Her mother, Susan Garrison Clark, was a tireless fighter for African Americans and was also “a charter member of the Concord Female Antislavery Society” – the only woman of color on record.
Ms. Clark herself was an educator and a courageous activist. She tested the Civil Rights Act of 1866 by sitting in the segregated waiting room in a Baltimore train station from which she was physically removed. At twelve years old, she marched in a Concord, Massachusetts parade, bravely holding hands with a white childhood friend “beneath the gaze of curiosity, surprise, ridicule and admiration.”
As an educator after the Civil War, she taught newly free people and said, “I have a great desire to go and labor among the freedmen of the South. I think it is our duty as a people to spend our lives in trying to elevate our own race. Who can feel for us if we do not feel for ourselves?”
This rich history is detailed on the Robbins House website – a site dedicated to the home of Ellen Garrison Clark’s family which is a 544 square foot cabin in Concord, Mass., and the only known historic site of an enslaved soldier of the American Revolution.
Ellen Garrison Clark’s final resting place is here in Altadena and on Saturday, November 18, people will commemorate her life.
The Robbins House will also link to the livestream of the Altadena celebration.
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