Virginia Pryor/Mercer Gray's Family and Associates

  • Ginnie (Virginia)/Mercer – Born into slavery but escapes to become a free woman
  • Jackson Pryor – Southern slave owner and U. S. Ambassador to Nicaragua
  • Joellen ("the Bat") Pryor – Jackson's wife
  • Lily – Ginnie's mother, deceased
  • Virgil – Ginnie's father, separated from the family, fate unknown
  • Willie ("the Cooper") – Ginnie's lover, father of her oldest child
  • Etta – Ginnie's oldest child
  • Mattie – Ginnie's older son, fathered by Jackson Pryor
  • Bennie – Ginnie's younger son, fathered by Jackson and left behind with Joellen
  • Suzy – Older slave who cares for Ginnie after her mother's death

The Quick Family and Associates

  • Manny (Emmanuel) Quick – Father, landlord of many properties
  • Della – Manny's wife, caterer
  • Rachel/Shelley (Shed Kitchen Woman) – Manny's woman on the side
  • Aunt Bea – Manny's younger sister, who drinks away her troubles
  • Sharkey (Jeremiah) – Manny's brother, stable owner who works with the Underground Railroad
  • The Tobies – Twins employed by Sharkey
  • Zilpha – Manny's older sister, widowed
  • Roland – Elder son of Manny and Della, now deceased
  • Harriet Leigh Quick Wilson – Twin daughter of Manny and Della, teacher and abolitionist
  • Tyree – Twin son of Manny and Della, works with the Underground Railroad, married to his brother's widow
  • Blanche – Tyree's wife, freelance fur seamstress
  • Abby Ann – Blanche's childhood friend and blackmailer, lodger at the Quicks' home
  • Reverend Ephraim Johns – Episcopal priest, courting Abby Ann
  • Africana – Daughter of Roland and Blanche
  • Cyrus – Son of Tyree and Blanche
  • Gabriel – Father of Manny, Bea, Jeremiah, and Zilpha, husband of Rebecca, seaman, now deceased

Abolitionists and Supporters

  • Nig-Nag (Wilfred) – Ginnie's first rescuer, lives in alley, suffers from Tourette Syndrome
  • Jack and Bo-Bo – Gay couple who look after Nig-Nag
  • George – Nig-Nag's friend and co-worker, Haitian
  • William Still – Co-Chairman of Vigilance Committee, born free
  • Passmore Williamson – Co-Chairman of Vigilance Committee, Caucasian
  • Glover Trueheart, Robbins Boyd, Zachary Samuel Holloman, Jordan Jones, and S. Whitaker Ince – Five porters who aid Ginnie in her escape from slavery
  • Mrs. Eugenia Pitts – Mercer's escort to New York
  • Mr. Henry – Lawyer for Passmore Williamson
  • Mr. and Mrs. Brooks – Owners of New York City boarding house where Mercer stays
  • William Wells Brown – Well-known speaker, ex-slave
  • Prudence Randall – Woman who encourages Mercer to go on speaker's circuit
  • Gertrude Wren – Elderly female Vigilance Committee member
  • Eliza Ruffin – President of Ladies Anti-Slavery Society, Cousin of Passmore Williamson
  • Sarah Stern, Mary Sterling, and Prudence Foley – Abolitionists who protect Mercer at William Still's trial
  • Wayland Silver – African American speaker whose talks encourage black emigration to Africa