Oct. 28, 1798

Levi Coffin Memorial Credit: Indiana Historical Bureau

Abolitionist Levi Coffin was born in North Carolina. His home in Newport, Indiana, became known as the “Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad.” 

In 1821, his cousin ran a Sunday school for Black Americans, but when slaveholders rebelled against this, the school was forced to close. After he and his family moved to Indiana, he began working on the Underground Railroad. 

“The Bible, in bidding us to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, said nothing about color, and I should try to follow out the teachings of that good book,” he said. “I thought it was always safe to do right.” 

He helped thousands of Black Americans find freedom, and after the Civil War ended, he became a leader in the Western Freedmen’s Aid Society, raising more than $100,000 (the equivalent of $2.66 million) in a single year for African Americans who needed food, clothing, funds and education. His autobiography, “Reminiscences of Levi Coffin,” was published a year before his 1877 death. 

In 1902, a 6-foot monument was built to mark his grave, and his former home became a National Historic Landmark.

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The stories of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His stories have also helped free two people from death row, exposed injustices and corruption, prompting investigations and reforms as well as the firings of boards and officials. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a longtime member of Investigative Reporters & Editors, and a winner of more than 30 other national awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant. After working for three decades for the statewide Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell left in 2019 and founded the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.