Bridget Biddy Mason, a trailblazer of her time, was born enslaved but went on to become “one of the first prominent citizens and landowners in Los Angeles in the 1850s and 1860s.”
Mason secured her freedom in 1856 through a suit brought against the man who held her and 13 others in slavery, including her three daughters. She became a legendary figure in early Los Angeles, not only for her astute business acumen, but for her philanthropy.
She founded a school and orphanage and her home on North Spring Street became a refuge for many destitute settlers. Mason, who spoke fluent Spanish, cared for the sick and became a mentor for many. As a free woman, she earned $2.50 a day as a nurse.
Saving carefully, she was one of the first African American women to own land in Los Angeles. Mason amassed a relatively large fortune, which she shared generously with charities. When she died, Biddy’s estate was valued at $300,000, the equivalent of approximately $9 million today.
Biddy Mason, who passed away in 1891, is known to many today as “Grandma Mason.”
Jackie Broxton, Executive Director of the Biddy Mason Foundation, will be speaking at the weekly meeting of the Pasadena Rotary Club on Wednesday, Feb 1, on the topic “Who Was Biddy Mason?”
The Biddy Mason Charitable Foundation was created in 2013 to provide services and support to both current and former foster youth in Los Angeles County. The Foundation is named for Bridget “Biddy” Mason, who also founded the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles in 1872.
The Biddy Mason Foundation’s Jackie Broxton developed a love of history and African American history specifically in middle school. Currently, she is completing a series of six one-act plays on conversations between Biddy Mason and other early Los Angeles settlers.
Broxton is a 40-year member of First AME Church in Los Angeles where she has served in a variety of leadership positions. She has been recognized by the Black faculty and staff of Los Angeles Community College Association for her leadership within the foster care community.
She is also a Community Outreach Director for the Long Journey to Freedom, an international research project examining the life of Biddy Mason.
To attend the meeting in person at the University Club of Pasadena, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (626) 683-8243.
You may also watch the meeting online on a one-way Zoomcast at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86515101523?pwd=dHhNZnV5c2ZqbzNQbWthbDNhYTladz09. The meeting ID is 865 1510 1523. The passcode is 667356.