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Exhibition Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825–1911). Reproduction from The Underground Rail Road by William Still. Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1872. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (046.02.00)

“I Speak of Wrongs”—Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Poet and lecturer Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was one of many black women who joined the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), generally as part of segregated chapters. A supporter of the Fifteenth Amendment and founding member of the American Woman Suffrage Association, Harper famously exposed racial inequities at an 1866 suffrage convention: “You white women speak here of rights. I speak of wrongs.” Although Harper attained leadership positions in the WCTU, she became disillusioned with the group’s lack of commitment to anti-lynching laws.

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