Frances Ellen Watkins Harper Fought for Both Abolition and Women’s Rights

By Mark Dixon | Source: MainLine Today

Sometimes life forces us to choose between two things, putting aside one in favor of the other. That was how 19th-century activist Frances Ellen Watkins Harper approached the seemingly conflicting issues of suffrage for black men and women in the 1890s. Harper knew the challenges women faced, but never signed on to the campaigns that focused solely on women’s rights.

Women, she noted in an 1893 speech to the World’s Congress of Representative Women, weren’t being lynched by “cowardly men, who torture, burn and lynch their fellow men.” Women, in their traditional roles as wives and mothers, were best positioned to advocate against all forms of injustice.

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