Booktalks

Elijah of Buxton Booktalk

Elijah was the first free baby born in Buxton, the first person there who had never been owned by a slave master.

  • Grades: 3–5

Watch this video booktalk.

Elijah was a special person in Buxton for a lot of reasons. First of all, he was the first free baby born in the Settlement. The Settlement of Buxton was in Canada, and was started by a minister who didn't believe in slavery and bought a piece of land so slaves escaping from the US would have a place to go where they could be safe and free. Eliah was the first baby born there who'd never been a slave. 

The second reason he was special was because he threw up all over Fredrick Douglass. Douglass was a black statesman and a former slave, and was making a speech about Elijah, and while he was holding him up over his head, bouncing him around and saying he was a beacon of hope and light, Elijah just opened his mouth and started throwing up all over him. It was a sight no one in Buxton would ever forget.

Another reason Elijah was special was the way he fished. He didn't use a pole or a line-he used rocks and half-dead horseflies. When he dropped those flies in the water and they started buzzing around on the surface, trying to take off, big old bass or perch went crazy, trying to catch them. Then Elijah would throw rocks at them, knocking them out so they'd float to the surface where he could just scoop them up. He could throw hard and fast, and hardly ever missed, so in just one afternoon, he could catch a dozen fish, enough for two or three folks other than his family, and enough to trade for a fresh-baked pie as well.

But the biggest reason Elijah was special was because of what he did when someone stole the money that Mr. Leroy was saving to buy his wife and children out of slavery and bring them to Buxton. He went south, into the United States, to get the money back. Elijah had never been in a country where human beings could be owned, bought and sold. A country where even if he told people that he was free born and from Canada, he was still in danger of being captured and enslaved himself. 

Elijah was special because he knew the right thing to do, and he did it, in spite of how dangerous it was.

This booktalk was written by university professor, librarian, and booktalking expert Joni Richards Brodart.

  • Part of Collection:
  • Subjects:
    Slavery, Underground Railroad, Abolition, Civics and Government, Civil Rights Movement, African American, Social Studies through Literature
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