EXCERPT: From Slaveowners to Abolitionists

By Sabrina Jones

We are excited to share an excerpt from Sabrina Jones's "From Slaveowners to Abolitionists," a consideration of Prophet Against Slavery: Benjamin Lay, A Graphic Novel by David Lester, with Marcus Rediker and Paul Buhle, from Beacon Press. This piece was originally published on Democratic Left Blog on November 30, 2021:

"Lay’s assault on hypocrisy and greed can still make us squirm. As a Quaker, I cringe at the spectacle of our forefathers behaving badly to such a truthteller, however obnoxious and unruly he may have been. This is probably why we’ve heard so little about Lay’s ingenious agitation. A much gentler persuader is generally credited with convincing Friends to turn against slavery: John Woolman sat in worship with slave-owning Quakers, expressing concern for their immortal souls. His faithful witness from a place of love is held up as a pacifist success story. Woolman’s story lets us feel better about ourselves. But perhaps Woolman would not have been so well received if Lay’s abrasive confrontations hadn’t come before him."

We are glad to have the opportunity to lift up this piece, which you can read in full here.