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William Howard Day

  • Lincoln & Carlisle Sts. Steelton, PA
Overview
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Born in New York City in 1825, William Howard Day was an African American abolitionist, minister, and educator. His mother Eliza was a founder of the first African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church. When Day was four, his father passed away and recognizing his potential, a white abolitionist family obtained permission from his mother to educate him. Day went on to receive a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from Oberlin College. A passionate educator, he was elected president of the National Board of Commissioners of the Colored People in 1858 and also worked with the YMCA in England. Following the end of the Civil War, Day worked for the Freedmen’s Bureau providing assistance to newly freed slaves. He was ordained a minister in the AME Church in 1867. Day relocated to Harrisburg where was elected to the school board of directors. In 1867 he was elected board president, becoming the first African American in the country to serve in such a role. When he died in Harrisburg in 1900, a new cemetery was established as a burial ground for people of all races and named William Howard Day Cemetery. Located in Steelton, the cemetery became a burial place for African Americans denied burial in nearby Baldwin Cemetery.