When I first became aware of Josiah Henson’s story, I was spellbound. There I saw a Black Canadian historical figure who I'd never heard of. He was a fugitive slave who went on to accomplish things unimaginable that marked Canadian history. And yet I had never heard of him. Who else had not either?
Despite all attempts to break him Josiah, somehow, remained unbroken. Somehow he was able to develop and maintain remarkably unflinching morals, steadfast integrity, and a superior character through immense and debasing hardship. He had the drive to not only survive slavery and gain his freedom, but to make a mark and to leave a legacy. Josiah made a promise to the ship's Captain as he crossed the Niagara River into Canada. "I will use my freedom well," he swore and, true to his word, he did.
Josiah Henson was as a leader, preacher, advocate, fundraiser, representative, educator, entrepreneur, author and the only person of African descent to be featured on a Canadian stamp in 1983 to celebrate the centennial of his death.