Posted on 04/04/2008

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African American
Young Woman
Former Slave
Eliza Suggs
Shadow and Sunshine
Omaha Nebraska

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Eliza Suggs -- Former slave and author of the memoir 'Shadow and Sunshine' published in 1906

Eliza Suggs -- Former slave and author of the memoir 'Shadow and Sunshine' published in 1906
'Sunshine and Shadow' which was published in 1906, is the memoir of an African American woman from Nebraska, who was born disabled who was never able to walk or care for herself. She had strong religious convictions and often preached in Nebraska black churches while held in the arms of her sister.

Both her parents were born into slavery, and Suggs' memoir contains accounts of their lives, as well as other sketches of slave life, Eliza's account of her own life, and several of her poems and hymns. A seminar on her life was held at the University of Nebraska in 1901.

The following is an excerpt of the Introduction from her book: While attending a camp meeting near Alma, Nebraska, during the summer of 1895, my attention was drawn to a little colored girl sitting in a baby cab, who appeared to take a deep interest in the services. I was told that it was Sister Eliza Suggs, who, amid deep affliction, was developing into a strong Christian character.

While the reader will be touched by the scenes of suffering related in this narrative, he will be impressed that Eliza does not belong to the despondent class. She is evidently of a cheerful temperament, possessing an overcoming faith which gives her the assurance that the God whom she loves and serves, intends to provide for and sustain her until life's journey is ended.

She saw light where others would have seen only darkness; she cherished hope where others would have felt only despair; and fearing it might displease her Master, she rejected offers of worldly gain which others would have eagerly grasped. Of humble parentage, limited advantages, physical embarassments, she is shedding rays of light along her pathway, and making impressions for good on the hearts and lives of those with whom she associates. What a marvel of grace!

Eliza Suggs (b.1876) died on January 29, 1908 in Orleans, Nebraska. She is buried with her family in Orleans Cemetery in Harlan County, Nebraska.

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