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Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

20 x 24 inches - Acrylic on Canvas

A society grows great only when we plant trees in whose shade we know we shall never sit

painting of activitst suffragist Frances Ellen Harper
painting of activitst suffragist Frances Ellen Harper
painting of activitst suffragist Frances Ellen Harper
painting typography on canvas

A rebel who did not stop demanding what was rightfully hers, and more than 100 years after her death, her words still hold their power.

 

Throughout her life, she spoke for

the abolition of slavery,

the protection of freed people,

the rights of women,

the dignity of races,

 

without ever letting her disenfranchisement keep her out of the conversation.​

painting of activitst suffragist Frances Ellen Harper
painting of activitst suffragist Frances Ellen Harper

During her lifetime, Frances fought for suffrage — 

a right she knew she deserved even though she might not live to see it.

Bury me in a free land, by Frances E.W. Harper, 1858

As inscribed on the painting

Make me a grave where'er you will

In a lowly plain, or a lofty hill;

Make it among earth's humblest graves,

But not in a land where men are slaves.

 

I could not rest if around my grave

I heard the steps of a trembling slave;

His shadow above my silent tomb

Would make it a place of fearful gloom.

 

I could not rest if I heard the tread

Of a coffle gang to the shambles led,

And the mother's shriek of wild despair

Rise like a curse on the trembling air.

 

I could not sleep if I saw the lash

Drinking her blood at each fearful gash,

And I saw her babes torn from her breast,

Like trembling doves from their parent nest.

I'd shudder and start if I heard the bay

Of bloodhounds seizing their human prey,

And I heard the captive plead in vain

As they bound afresh his galling chain.

 

If I saw young girls from their mother's arms

Bartered and sold for their youthful charms,

My eye would flash with a mournful flame,

My death-paled cheek grow red with shame.

 

I would sleep, dear friends, where bloated might

Can rob no man of his dearest right;

My rest shall be calm in any grave

Where none can call his brother a slave.

 

I ask no monument, proud and high,

To arrest the gaze of the passers-by;

All that my yearning spirit craves,

Is bury me not in a land of slaves.

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