Liberty County’s rich history was celebrated Monday as people gathered at Dorchester Academy for the second annual Susie King Taylor Symposium.
The symposium focuses on the life of the Liberty County native who opened three schools for African-Americans, championed the Army Nurse Pension Act of 1892 and self-published her memoir after escaping from slavery in 1862.
The event was organized by Hermina Glass-Hill with the support of Liberty County Chairman Donald Lovette, the Dorchester Improvement Association, Liberty County Historical Society, Georgia Power, Liberty CVB and Coastal Courier.
Glass-Hill is a historian, writer and consulting researcher who has dedicated nearly a decade to the story of this Civil War nurse, teacher and racial activist. Her goal is to elevate Taylor to her place in American history alongside the likes of Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman and Ida B. Wells Barnett.
She is so passionate about this task that she moved from Atlanta to Midway for the research and opened the Susie King Taylor Women’s Institute and Ecology Center near where Taylor was born at Gress Island.
"I want to remember, celebrate and educate people about her contributions" Glass-Hill said. "I focus on the microcosm events and minute details of her life so that I can explain all aspects."
She said Taylor as a domestic slave in the "big house" on Gress Island, but learned to read, write and speak four languages.
Perhaps one of the most pivotal moments in her life was witnessing the Great Slave Auction of March 1859, also known as the Weeping Time. It was the largest sale of slaves in U.S. history with 436 men, women and children sold in two days in Savannah. Taylor recounts the event in her memoir, "Reminisces of My Life in Camp."
Later, Taylor escaped to freedom and became the first black Civil War nurse. After the war, she traveled between Boston and Coastal Georgia, opening schools and performing domestic servant duties to make money.
Upon learning about her spirituality, survival and service, the Georgia Women of Achievement Hall of Fame announced it would inducted Taylor on March 7.
"Due to local efforts spearheaded by Hermina Glass-Hill, myself and Ms. Willie Mae Washington, Susie King Taylor will be inducted…" Lovette said. "In 2015 I received a magazine about the Georgia Women of Achievement and began researching to see past recipients and I couldn’t believe our Susie King Taylor wasn’t in there. I asked about it and I learned that she had never been nominated. I tasked Hermina and we got letters of support."
Although Taylor is gaining more recognition, Glass-Hill has no plans of stopping. In April, she will host the first Susie King Taylor academic conference at the Susie King Taylor Women’s Institute and Ecology Center. To learn more about Taylor and upcoming events, visit wwww.susiekingtaylorinstitute.org.