Delany Day honors Charles Town-born Renaissance man

CHARLES TOWN – Sunday is a special day as history lovers remember the life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Delany, who was born in Charles Town on May 6, 1812 – a free black man in the slave state of Virginia.

Last month, the Jefferson County Commission passed a resolution officially setting aside Sunday as Dr. Martin Delany Day.

The Jefferson County Commission on April 19 presented West Virginia NAACP president George Rutherford with a resolution formally recognizing  the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Delany’s birth.

Before Delany’s death on Jan. 24, 1885, of tuberculosis in Ohio at age 72, he’d achieved acclaim as an abolitionist, international lecturer and journalist. He was the first African-American field officer in the Army during the Civil War.

For Delany, the path toward success began in Charles Town, where his mother taught him to read as a young child at a time when slave states made that practice illegal.

He was among the first black students trained at Harvard Medical School. While living in Pittsburgh, he treated patients during the cholera epidemics of 1833 and 1854 even as many physicians and residents fled the city.   

A special exhibit at the Jefferson County Museum offers details on Delany’s life. The museum at 200 E. Washington St. in Charles Town is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $3 or free to anyone with a Charles Town Library card. For details, call 304-725-8628 or go to

The first annual Martin Delany Scholarship Golf Tournament is planned for May 18. Put on by the Charles Town-based Star Lodge No. 1 F & AM, the tournament at Locust Hill Golf Course in Charles Town will allow golfers to offer tuition aid to those seeking higher education.

For information in signing up or sponsoring the tournament, call Maurice Ballard at 304-828-6236 or Larry Togans at 304-725-4735.

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