Frances Ellen Watkins Harper and the Colored Conventions Movement
Today, we continue to see the impact of Harper’s writing, activism, and lectures in different ways. During Harper’s life following her board membership on the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), a chapter was initiated by Mrs. Emma Ray in 1891 in Seattle Washington. Ray and 15 other Black women members named the chapter the Frances Ellen Harper Branch of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Harper’s Philadelphia home, where she resided from 1870 until her death in 1911, is now a recognized landmark through the National Park Service. While the home is not open to the public, acknowledging Harper’s impact on the Philadelphia community and preserving her home reminds us of her continuing legacy. Moreover, in 1992 the city of Philadelphia erected a marker on 1006 Bainbridge St. dedicated to Harper and her activism serving free and enslaved Black Americans. We even see Harper’s presence at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). The contemplative court in the museum has a snippet of Harper’s poem “Bury Me in Free Land”. On the university level, Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland named one of their all-female dormitories after both Frances Harper and Harriet Tubman, calling it the Harper-Tubman House. University of Delaware’s Black women dance group, Women of Consequence, are currently planning a performance re-enacting speeches from Mary Ann Shadd Cary and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. These various legacies across different spaces and disciplines reveal the importance of preserving the life, work, activism, and writing of important 19th century Black women such as Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. Despite the minimization of her presence in the Convention Proceedings, we see how different groups and organizations make her presence know today.
Use the gallery of images below to view Harper’s legacy!