Elizabeth Key Grinstead (1630-1665) was an extremely couragous and diligent woman being that she was the first of African descendant in the N. America colonies to be brave and determined enough to sue for her freedom and actually win. Her victory not only impacted history but has left a longlasting stamp on African American history. Furthermore, she will make an excellent candidate for the Council of Change.
Dedicating majority of her life to equality for blacks, she made it a goal of hers to learn her rights as an indentured slave and while doing so she opened the door for other slaves that were living under the same circumstances changing the course of slavery forever.
She developed majority of her skills while working as a laborer to Humphrey Higginson and later for John Mottram as an indentured slave.
Self-taught and her knowledge about law came from her soon to be husband, William Grinstead also an indetured slave to Mottram.
Awards and Recognition
Grinstead was recognized as being the first persom, male or female, to sue for her freedom and win but through this recognition she changed the law. In December of 1662 the Virginia House of Burgesses amended a colonial law stated that children would take on the status of their mother instead of the fathers. This made it more difficult to sue for freedom.
The Elizabeth Key court case against Virginia was published in the Northumberland County Record Books detailing the findings of the case, the witnesses that testified and the ruling.
Not only did she free herself, but she gained the freedom of her newborn son in the process. Elizabeth gave slaves hope that they too are entitled to there freedom. She challenged traditional viewws and societal norms of the time because of what she knew was right.
Majority of her life was voluntary being that she worked for people without pay and most of the time in extreme conditions.