With Open Hands: A Story About Biddy Mason


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Biddy Mason never dreamed of becoming a pioneer. She was forced to by her master, to whom she had been given as a "wedding gift" at just eighteen years of age. Walking 1700 miles across the Great Plains, Biddy herded cattle, set up camp, fed a large family, and cared for her master's sickly wife-all with a nursing baby on her hip.

Though small in stature, Biddy had an indomitable spirit, braving bitter cold, thunderstorms and hailstorms, blistering heat, and blistered feet. And when the opportunity came for her to gain her freedom in California, she did so. Free at last, Biddy put all her knowledge, skill, and resourcefulness to good use, delivering babies, healing the sick, and feeding the hungry.

She was the first black woman in Los Angeles to own property and became one of California's wealthiest African American women. Known for her charity and generosity, Biddy cared for the afflicted during the smallpox epidemic, founded the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, started schools for black children, and visited jail inmates. Her grateful community lovingly called her Grandma Mason-the woman who lived by the gospel of the "open hand."

Beautiful Feet


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Ferris, Jeri Chase