Frances Watkins Harper

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Contributed by Anna Bamber

One suffragist whose contributions have been largely overlooked in history is Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. Frances Harper was an African American poet, author, and abolitionist who also played a significant role in the suffrage movement. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Harper was orphaned at a young age and raised by her aunt and uncle. Harper’s advocacy for women’s suffrage began in the 1860s when she joined various suffrage organizations, including the American Woman Suffrage Association and the American Equal Rights Association. She delivered powerful speeches at national conventions, using her voice to highlight the intersectionality of race and gender. In 1866, Harper delivered a powerful speech titled “We Are All Bound Up Together” at the National Women’s Rights Convention in New York. In her speech, she emphasized the importance of including African American women in the suffrage movement and the need for solidarity among women of different races. Harper’s poignant words called for unity and equality among all women, challenging the predominantly white suffrage movement to recognize and address racial discrimination. Despite her influential contributions, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s name and achievements have often been overshadowed by other figures of the suffrage movement. The erasure of African American women’s voices from historical narratives has led to an incomplete understanding of the suffrage movement’s diversity and intersectionality.