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Hetty Reckless

February is Black History Month. Amy Hester "Hetty" Reckless (1776 – January 28, 1881) was a runaway slave who became an important leadaer of the abolitionist movement. She operated a Philadelphia safe house on Rodman Street that was part of the Underground Railroad. She fought against prostitution and vice, and work tirelessly to improve the education and skills of members of the black community. She operated a women's shelter. She supported Sunday Schools and attended a variety of educational and abolitionist conferences. She and Grace Bustill Douglass, Sarah Mapps Douglass, and Charlotte Forten Grimke were the founding members of the integrated Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. She worked with and later become a member of the Board of Directors of the “predominantly black” Female Vigilant Association. She supported the establishment of black community Sabbath Schools and was an advocate for the creation of benevolent societies to “support organizations which the African American community had created for themselves.” She attended the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women in 1838 and the Convention of Colored People in 1840.


Reckless was also concerned with freeing women from the bondage of sexual exploitation and with Hetty Burr co-founded the Moral Reform Retreat. The Retreat was a shelter for female “victims of vice” and the only shelter for African American women in Philadelphia that housed over 200 women for six months. The Retreat not only provided them with shelter, but educated them, as well while providing the women who ran the shelter employment.



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