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Black Maids Tribute

"Our race relations are rooted deeply in the past. For some it is history, for others heritage. For all, it is a persistent stumbling block. We have to remember together before we can forget together, and that is why I drew these portraits."
-Joey M. Robinson

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Elizabeth Keckley
She was born a slave and ended a pauper, but in between Elizabeth Keckley lived a fabulous life. She bought her freedom in St. Louis and moved to Baltimore and then to Washington, D.C.

She had a talent for dressmaking and a knack for business. She became a highly regarded seamstresses in Washington D.C. Her many wealthy clients included Mrs. Jefferson Davis, wife of the future president of the Confederacy and Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of the new president.

Mary Todd Lincoln was so impressed with her talent that she hired her as her seamstress. She became Mrs. Lincoln’s confidant and emotional support during troubled times, which were many.

When her husband was killed, Elizabeth stayed with her, and as she became destitute, Elizabeth lent her money from her seamstress earnings and wrote a book about the Lincoln White House to raise more cash.

The book was her undoing, as she was widely and indignantly vilified for her audacity to write about the personal life of the martyred president. Mary Todd abandoned her, her son Robert stopped publication of the book and she died penniless in 1907 in the Washington D.C. Home for the Indigent, which she herself had founded decades earlier.