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Olaudah Equiano
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Advocate
    (circa 1745-March 31, 1797)
    Born in Essaka, Nigeria
    More commonly known as Gustavus Vassa during his lifetime, after King Gustav I of Sweden
    Advocated for the abolition of the slave trade and slavery in the United Kingdom
    Kidnapped along with his sister by a group of slavers when he was about eleven years old
    Given the name Michael when brought to the slave ship that transported him to the Americas, then renamed Jacob by his first owner, and finally Gustavus Vassa by his second owner Michael Pascal
    Bought his freedom after working for Robert King (1767)
    Wrote his autobiography 'The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano' (1789)
    Member of the Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor, which became instrumental in proposing the establishment of Sierra Leone
    He only used the name Equiano in his autobiography.
    His experience as a slave was privileged compared that of most slaves: he was taught how to read and write and worked in trading rather than in the fields.
    He was part of a failed expedition to find a northern route to India through the Arctic. (1773)
    He was involved in a project to establish a new plantation or colony in Central America that involved buying slaves. (1775)
    Since the late 20th Century, some scholars have disputed his origins, with one professor even claiming that he was born in South Carolina instead of Africa. (1999)
    Some versions of his autobiography cut out his conversion to Christianity, which he and 18th Century readers regarded as an important event in his life.
    He exposed the cruelty of slavery, which greatly contributed to the abolitionist cause.
    He was almost kidnapped back into slavery while on a voyage to Georgia.
    Other than exposing the evils of slavery to readers, his autobiography is also an important piece of English literature for showing the complex humanity of Africans.
    Most of the details in his autobiography (except for his early life) could be verified.
    He provided aid to freed African-American slaves in London. (1783)
    His elder daughter Anna Maria died four months after his death, leaving his younger daughter Joanna the only person to inherit his estate, as Equiano's own wife had died earlier. (July 21, 1797)

Credit: Big Lenny


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