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Jane DeVeaux (headstone)
*The birth of Jane A. DeVeaux is celebrated on this date in 1810. She was a Black mulatto teacher and abolitionist.
From Savanah, GA, she was the daughter of John Benjamin Deveaux (born into slavery) and Catherine Deveaux (a free woman from Antigua). Her father pastored the Third African Baptist Church in Savannah. She and her mother secretly taught enslaved and free people on 231 Price Street, beginning in the 1830s.
Though it was illegal to educate slaves in 19th century America, there were several secret schools in Savannah during the antebellum era, and many were raided and shut down. DeVeaux’s lasted the longest. Black children would hide their books in buckets or paper bags and pretend they would learn a trade.
“She never registered herself as an educator or a teacher... She would list herself as a pastry cook,” said First Bryan Baptist Church’s Historian, Georgia Benton. “There were too many camouflages around DeVeaux. She joined the group that was going to make 100 Confederate soldier uniforms. They looked at her, ‘Well, this black woman is going to make uniforms.’ Not knowing she was educating blacks at the same time.”
The punishment for blacks teaching or learning was a hefty fine and a public lashing. DeVeaux and her mother ran her school for 30 years. Jane Deveaux died on June 12, 1885. She was much admired and respected in the African American community.
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