Abstract

To read Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s corpus of poetry, oratory, and political activism through the lens of feminism is to erase the Afrocentric logics of her rhetoric, but examining her work through the lens of Afrocentricity broadly obscures her radical views on the role of women in society. Africana womanism offers a paradigm through which one can analyze her rhetoric in a way that honors her Blackness and her womanhood—an ethic she insisted on throughout her life. This article elucidates the theory of Africana womanism and highlights evidence of Africana womanist thought in the rhetoric of Watkins Harper, deepening our understanding of women’s contributions to the organizing work and activism of nineteenth-century Black Americans.

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