View this email in your browser
Faces of the Black Suffrage Movement, Part 5
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was born free in 1825 in Baltimore, Maryland, even though it was a slave state. Orphaned at 3 years old, she was raised by her mother’s sister and husband, Henrietta and Rev. William J. Watkins Sr. Harper’s uncle was the pastor of an African Methodist Episcopal Church. She was educated at the Watkins Academy for Negro Youth, which he started in 1820. As a civil rights activist and abolitionist, Rev. Watkins was a major influence on his niece's life and work.

After leaving the academy, Harper worked as a domestic and seamstress in a Quaker household, where she had access to an extensive library. After two years teaching, she began a career as a traveling speaker on the abolitionist circuit in 1853 and helped slaves escape through the Underground Railroad.
Harper was one of the first black women to become a professional antislavery speaker. She was dubbed the  “Bronze Muse” in recognition of her skills as both a writer and lecturer. Harper is regarded as one of the most extraordinarily accomplished African American women of the 19th century. She wrote more than a dozen books and was a respected poet whose 10 volumes of poetry sold well enough for her to earn a living. Harper published her first book of poetry, Forest Leaves, in 1845.
In 1866 Harper addressed the 11th National Women’s Rights Convention in New York City where she sat on the platform with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.  A supporter of the 15th Amendment and founding member of the American Woman Suffrage Association, Harper famously exposed racial inequities during her speech by addressing the double jeopardy of being Black and female in a racist, sexist society.
“You white women speak here of rights. I speak of wrongs. I, as a colored woman, have had in this country an education which has made me feel as if I were in the situation of Ishmael, my hand against every man, and every man’s hand against me,” said Harper at the suffrage convention.
In 1895, her novel, Iola Leroy, was among the first published by an African American woman and dealt with the issues of race, class and temperance. It was very popular because of the rise of Black feminism and the book’s activist theme. Working with women such as Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, Hallie Q. Brown, Anna Julia Cooper and others, Harper led the Black women’s movement into the 20th century.
Harper and her husband, Fenton, had one daughter. Fenton died four years after their marriage and Mary died two years before her mother. After leaving Maryland to teach in Ohio, she also lived in Pennsylvania until her death in 1911.
Your donation of $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 or more to Ida’s Legacy will ensure more progressive African-American women candidates run for local and state offices.
Thank you,
Delmarie Cobb
Ida’s Legacy Committee

Paid for and authorized by Ida's Legacy Committee. A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is (or will be) available on the Board's official website ( or for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, Illinois. Contributions and gifts are not deductible as charitable contributions for Federal income tax purposes. 
The Ida B. Wells Legacy Committee is not affiliated with the Ida B. Wells family or any other endeavor bearing her name.

Copyright © 2020 Ida's Legacy, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp