Benjamin “Pap” Singleton (1809-1892)
Benjamin “Pap” Singleton was an American activist and businessman best known for his role in establishing African-American settlements in Kansas. He was born to a white father and enslaved black woman in the Nashville, TN area, making him a slave. Singleton escaped to freedom in 1846 via the Underground Railroad, to Windsor, Canada – where he stayed for a year until making his way to Detroit. In 1862, when the Union Army occupied Middle Tennessee and then he returned to Nashville. He was a cabinet and coffin maker. Along with Columbus M Johnson, he founded Edgefield Real Estate Association for black Tennesseans in Nashville. This failed due to white landowners not wanting to bargain with blacks, supporting his conclusion that Blacks would never achieve economic equality in the white-dominated South. So he headed to the American West, reorganized the Real Estate Company. After the end of Reconstruction, Singleton organized the movement of thousands of Black colonists, known as Exodusters, to found settlements in Kansas. A prominent early voice for Black nationalism, he became involved in promoting and coordinating Black-owned businesses in Kansas, and developed an interest in the Back-to-Africa movement.