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Shanna Ward’s Bequest 1820 Project Unveils Three New Historical BIPOC Books Centering Around the Life of Freedman John T. Ward

Shanna Ward, a fifth-generation descendant of John T. Ward, spent four years researching her ancestor. Now, she is sharing his story with the world to help others tie together the past with the present and future.


April 27, 2024 - Bequest 1820 Project founder Shanna Ward has announced the launch of two new books sharing the life of freedman John T. Ward.


Shanna can recall hearing stories of John T. Ward, a fifth-generation descendant, all through her childhood and young adulthood. When she wanted to learn more about this man, who truly seemed to be a legend in her mind, Shanna spent over four years researching archives, records, and narratives of those who crossed paths with John.


In her research, Shanna discovered more than she ever dreamed of finding. Yes, John was a Freedman, but he was also an abolitionist, conductor of the Underground Railroad, delegate, and business owner. He also obtained a contract during the Civil War transporting supplies. John and his family were among those in America’s first-ever mass manumissions in 1827, in which the enslaved Ward family were freed. Shanna put together his story in a book entitled ‘The Bequest of John T. Ward’, which will be released in 2025.


Shanna has found that many of the issues John T. Ward faced in his lifetime are still relevant today, including oppressive laws, racial equity, voter rights suppression, and reparations. By connecting readers with the spirit of a true Black American freedman who helped form the rights held by Americans today, Shanna hopes to remind people that history doesn’t have to repeat itself. By understanding history and seeing the challenges faced by Black Americans today, Americans can come together to forge an even brighter future, especially by granting reparations.


‘Little John T. Ward & the Quilted Code: Let Ward Do It’ is a children’s book based on John’s childhood, offering previous illustrations and a heartwarming story for young minds working together in the community and unity. It debut in Black History Month in February 2024. On Juneteenth 2024, Shanna is releasing another book based on the life John T Ward, which will serve as the prequel to ‘The Bequest of John T. Ward’.

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Apr 29

You've done an incredible piece of work. 😊

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