Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, a 19th century African American woman writer and abolitionist, was born to a free black family in a slave state, Maryland. Frances Watkins Harper became a teacher, an anti-slavery activist, and a writer and poet. She was also an advocate of women's rights and was a member of the American Woman Suffrage Association. The writings of Frances Watkins Harper were often focused on themes of racial justice, equality, and freedom.
Selected Frances Ellen Watkins Harper Quotations
• We may be able to tell the story of departed nations and conquering chieftains who have added pages of tears and blood to the world's history; but our education is deficient if we are perfectly ignorant how to guide the little feet that are springing up so gladly in our path, and to see in undeveloped possibilities gold more fine than the pavements of heaven and gems more precious than the foundations of the holy city.
• We want more soul, a higher cultivation of all spiritual faculties. We need more unselfishness, earnestness, and integrity. We need men and women whose hearts are the homes of high and lofty enthusiasm and a noble devotion to the cause of emancipation, who are ready and willing to lay time, talent, and money on the altar of universal freedom.
• The true aim of female education should be, not a development of one or two, but all the faculties of the human soul, because no perfect womanhood is developed by imperfect culture.”
• Every mother should endeavor to be a true artist.
• The work of the mothers of our race is grandly constructive. It is for us to build above the wreck and ruin of the past more stately temples of thought and action. Some races have been overthrown, dashed in pieces, and destroyed; but to-day the world is needing, fainting, for something better than the results of arrogance, aggressiveness, and indomitable power. We need mothers who are capable of being character builders, patient, loving, strong, and true, whose homes will be uplifting power in the race. This is one of the greatest needs of the hour.
• No race can afford to neglect the enlightenment of its mothers.
• The moment the crown of motherhood falls on the brow of a young wife, God gives her a new interest in the welfare of the home and the good of society.
• I do not think the mere extension of the ballot a panacea for all the ills of our national life. What we need to-day is not simply more voters, but better voters.
• I envy neither the heart nor the head of any legislator who has been born to an inheritance of privileges, who has behind him ages of education, dominion, civilization, and Christianity, if he stands opposed to the passage of a national education bill, whose purpose is to secure education to the children of those who were born under the shadow of institutions which made it a crime to read.
• Apparent failure may hold in its rough shell the germs of a success that will blossom in time, and bear fruit throughout eternity.
More About Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
- Frances Ellen Watkins Harper Biography
- Enlightened Motherhood, Harper
- African American Women Writers
- African American Women
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About These Quotes
Quote collection assembled by Jone Johnson Lewis. Each quotation page in this collection and the entire collection © Jone Johnson Lewis 1997-2009. This is an informal collection assembled over many years. I regret that I am not be able to provide the original source if it is not listed with the quote.
Jone Johnson Lewis. "Frances Ellen Watkins Harper Quotes." About Women's History. URL: http://womenshistory.about.com/od/quotes/a/frances_harper.htm . Date accessed: (today). (More on how to cite online sources including this page)