- Students will analyze the rhetorical strategies Frances Watkins Harper used, such as tone, emotional appeal and descriptive language
- Students will consider the post-Civil War culture in U.S. history, particularly as it affected blacks and women
- Students will explore the racial dynamics of the woman suffrage movement
Many people consider the 1950s the "beginning" of the Civil Rights Movement, creating a void between the abolition of slavery and Brown v. Board of Education. Similarly, a void exists in women's history between the Seneca Falls Convention and the 19th Amendment. The intersection of black and female involvement in both suffrage and civil rights activism offers a view of history deserving exploration.
Both the life story of Frances Watkins Harper and an excerpt from one of her speeches help to fill the void. Coincidentally, Harper also spent significant time in Alabama and struggled with segregation on public transportation, which makes a brief glance at her life and work an interesting precursor to thinking about Rosa Parks' experience with Alabama public transportation almost 100 years later.
- Explain to students that they are going to analyze part of a speech by Frances Harper, a 19th century black woman activist who, like Rosa Parks, struggled against segregation.
- Distribute the handout, asking for a volunteer to read the brief biographical description of Harper.
- Ask students what they know about the woman suffrage movement, the abolition movement and reconstruction. Write the background information on the board. Students might mention the Seneca Falls Convention, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton or Frederick Douglass.
- Give brief background about suffrage and abolition, if necessary.
- Ask students to read the excerpt from the speech independently, then read the entire excerpt aloud.
- As you go through the discussion questions, read the section of the speech pertaining to the question aloud again.