The history of John Brown Russwurm and an interview with Adilah Muhammad

Episode 3 tells the history of Bowdoin’s first African American graduate.
Logo for the Maine's Black Future podcast.
The Maine’s Black Future podcast tells the stories of historic Black Mainers and connect the longstanding history to Black changemakers weaving Maine’s Black future today. Graphic by Olivia Martin.

The Maine’s Black Future podcast boldly visits stories of historic Black Mainers and the legacies they carved into the state. Then we connect this longstanding history to Black changemakers weaving Maine’s Black future today!

We define terminology, keep it real, and invite you to connect deeply with Black Mainers creating the future that we want to live in. We showcase Black excellence occurring all over Maine and feature original music production from the GEM CITY Maine collective, throughout.

Host Genius Black opens episode 3 with a look at John Brown Russwurm, a Jamaican born bi-racial man who came to Maine in 1812 with his English father.

Adilah Muhammed sits in front of a podcast microphone.
Adilah Muhammad. Photo by Genius Black.

Russwurm lost both his parents at an early age, but grew up with a caring stepmother who eventually helped him enroll into Bowdoin College.

Russwurm became Bowdoin’s first African American graduate, and the third inside the United States. He went on to co-found America’s first African-American owned publication, Freedom’s Journal. Later, he emigrated to Liberia, serving as the settlement’s first Black governor. 

Later in the episode, Genius sits with Adilah Muhammad, originally from Decatur, Georgia currently living and working as a multifaceted leader inside Maine.

Muhammad shares her experience growing up in Georgia in the 80’s, investing in real estate, founding a non-profit, and looking to her vision of Maine’s Black future. 

You can listen below to the episode or you can find it on some of your favorite podcast hosting platforms including SpotifyiHeart RadioGoogle PodcastsAmazon MusicTuneIn + AlexaPodcast AddictPodchaserDeezerPlayer FM, Listen NotesDeezerPodcast Index and Pocket Casts.

Past Episodes

Episode 1: The history of London Atus and an interview with Alfine Nathalie.

Episode 2: The history of Pedro Tovookan Parris and an interview with Junes Thete

References & Links

Yarmouth History Center Lecture Series: C. Patrick Burrowes, PhD, on John Brown Russwurm (1799-1851)

A Child of the Atlantic The Maine Years of John Brown Russwurm, Carl Patrick Burrows, Pennsylvania State University-Harrisburg

Guide to the John Brown Russwurm Collection, 1819-2000

Mainers of the Year 2022

The Third Place Maine

Genius Black Instagram

GEM CITY Instagram


Genius Black

Genius Black, also known as Jerry Edwards, is a social innovator, entrepreneur, and musical artist based in South Portland, Maine. Naturally a storyteller and motivator, he focuses on collaboration and audio/video production as a craft. Genius curates a collaborative network and collective of musical talent, GEM CITY, driving the intersection of art, culture, and quality of place unique to Maine’s coast. He holds a degree in Africana Studies and an English minor from Bowdoin College. He is the father of two teenagers, 15 and 19 years old. Genius is a media and communications organizer for TheThirdPlace and a proud board member of Portland Media Center.
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