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Poet and orator Frances Watkins, the child of two free black parents, publicly advocated for abolition and education through speeches and publications.
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Frances Watkins was born on September 24, 1825, in Baltimore, Maryland. She was able to attend school as the daughter of free black parents. Her first poem collection, Forest Leaves, was published around 1845. The delivery of her public speech, “Education and the Elevation of the Colored Race,” resulted in a two-year lecture tour for the Anti-Slavery Society. She died in 1911.
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African-Americans have a long history of activism in America, from fighting for the right to vote to pushing for integrated public spaces. Activists like Stokely Carmichael organized freedom rides, James Meredith fought to integrate blacks and whites at the University of Mississippi, and Rosa Parks instigated the Montgomery Bus Boycott. These protests were often legal and nonviolent, and made a powerful impact on civil rights in the United States. With the help of activists like these—and many others—the country slowly worked to acknowledge the basic rights and contributions of African-Americans. Activists outisde of the U.S. include Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, who have fought against apartheid in South Africa. Learn more about the many black activists who fought against the odds in order to achieve equality.
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profile name: Frances E.W. Harper profile occupation:
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