The Life of Frances Harper

Black American History Month

As we commemorate Black History Month, we celebrate the accomplishments of black women who have pushed boundaries and opened new paths of opportunities to generations. One such popular figure from the 19th century is Frances Harper.

Frances Harper

FRANCES ELLEN WATKINS HARPER was a pioneering figure in women’s leadership whose life and story embody courage, determination, and a passion for empowering women.

A delve into this write-up tells you all you need to know about the life and legacy of Francis Harper, exploring her challenges, triumphs, and the wisdom we can glean from her journey.


Frances grew up in a disadvantaged community where opportunities for women, especially black women, were limited. Despite these challenges, she was determined to succeed and make a difference in the world.

With the help of her late parent’s family, mainly her uncle Rev. Williams J. Watkins and aunt Henrietta, she was lucky to receive the education and skills needed as an eye-opener to achieve some of her goals.

Photo by Suad Kamardeen

At the age of thirteen, most children were expected to be done with school to join the workforce. Frances took a job as a nursemaid and seamstress from a white family. This family had a bookshop that helped her through her life journey as a writer and at the age of twenty-one, she published her first poetry, forest or winter leaves.

A significant turning point in Frances’s life was when she became an abolitionist, and suffragist, and co-founded non-profit organizations that aimed to empower women in her community.

Through this organization, she provided education, job training, and leadership development programs to women who were struggling to make a better life for themselves.

This experience was a catalyst for her growth and development as a leader, and it provided her with a platform to share her message with others. It made her life serve as proof that with the right mindset, skills, and tools, anything is possible and that women leaders can be just as strong and resilient as their male counterparts.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Frances’s message to women in leadership was simple, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” She believed that women have the power to achieve their goals and make a difference in the world and when they find their purpose and how to achieve it, they become unstoppable forces of nature.

Her unwavering commitment to her goals and her spirit of resilience and determination serve as shining examples of what women can achieve when they put their minds to it. Her legacy lives on, inspiring and encouraging future generations of women to pursue their dreams and make a difference in the world.

Honour the Past. Look to the Future.

Photo by Unseen Histories

Frances Harper’s life and story indeed testify to the strength and resilience of women leaders. As we celebrate Black History Month, let us remember and honor the contributions of women like Frances, who paved the way for future generations, and continue to support uplift, and empower women leaders everywhere.

They have the potential to make the world a safer and more equitable place for all women, and to leverage business, education, technology, and social transformation to create a world where everyone can flourish.

Charting the Way Forward

Through the strength and resilience of women like Frances Harper, we can build a world where women can flourish, lead, and leave a lasting impact on their communities and the world as a whole.

Let’s continue to work towards a future where every woman feels safe and empowered, and where every woman has the tools and support they need to achieve their goals and reach their full potential.

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