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Lucy Goode Brooks
*Lucy Goode Brooks was born on this date in 1818. She was a Black slave and children's advocate.
Lucy Goode was born in Virginia to the slave Judith Goode and a white man. She met another slave, Albert Royal Brooks, and taught him to read and write to write passes to see each other. When her master died in 1838, Goode became the property of a man named Sublett. That same year, she joined the First Baptist Church of Richmond.
On February 2, 1839, shortly after Goode became Sublett's property, he allowed her to marry Brooks and allowed them to live together. Albert's owner allowed him to operate a livery stable, for which he collected rent and permitted Albert to keep his additional earnings and use them to buy his freedom. In 1841 when the Baptist church divided, she was one of the groups joining the First African Baptist Church.
When Sublett died in 1858, his heirs threatened to sell Lucy and her children to different masters. She negotiated with merchants who purchased her children and allowed them to live with her if they showed up for work daily. The sole exception was a daughter who was sold to owners in Tennessee. The knowledge that they could be separated made Brooks work harder to try to buy freedom of Lucy and the children. Her new master, Daniel Von Groning, who owned her three youngest boys, allowed Albert to pay for their freedom in installments.
It took four years, but on October 21, 1862, their deed of manumission was signed. The older three boys were not freed until after the American Civil War. The loss of her daughter and a previous son sold as property as an infant drove Brooks to try to help children separated from their parents after the war had ended. The Freedmen's Bureau initially offered temporary rations and cared for abandoned children. By the fall of 1865, they increasingly tried to shift the burden to local relief efforts, and benevolent society cared. Brooks, a leader of the Ladies Sewing Circle for Charitable Work, convinced the other ladies to help organize an orphanage.
She then gained the support of several churches, including the local Quaker congregation, to help found the Friends' Asylum for Colored Orphans. The plan was approved, and the building's location was authorized by the city council, in 1867, with the orphanage opening two years later. The organization is still operational and functions as the Friends Association for Children. However, its current focus is to provide childcare and family support services to low- and moderate-income families.
Lucy Goode Brooks died on October 7, 1900, in Richmond, Virginia, and she was buried in the Mechanic's Cemetery of Richmond. She was honored in 2008 by a Virginia Historical Marker at the corner of Charity and Saint Paul Streets. A book about her life was published in 1989.