Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was another woman to point out the inequities between women of color and white women, women of privilege and poor women. While the white women were asking for the vote, Harper was asking for wrongs to be righted in "We Are All Bound Up Together."

She begins by using a personal story to illustrate a plight of all women under the current legal system. The death of her husband left her and her children completely destitute, because he had been in debt, and she could hold no property. Creditors took everything from her but a hairbrush, presumably because they could find no value in taking it, rather than out of their nonexistent pity. This exclusion of woman from the right to property was not limited in affecting women of color, but rather was a universal that all in her audience could relate to.

Watkins Harper challenges the idea that enfranchisement is the ultimate goal for women. "I do not believe that giving the woman the ballot is immediately going to cure all the ills of life" (149). She points out that it is not the vote itself, but the character of those voting, that determines how those votes will turn out, recognizing that a democracy is slow to change through franchise alone.

I particularly like the turn Watkins Harper takes from talking of rights, such as those to vote or hold property, to wrongs that need righting. Wrongs that are being done against women and men of color by the privileged classes above them. Wrongs that harm not only those who are the direct recipients of the wrongs, but also the society that allows such wrongs to exist. I am surprised that there is no reference to the section of scripture that compares Jesus to the naked and the hungry. As we do unto the least of our society, so we do unto Jesus.

She is also the first rhetor to bring up a concept that I saw coming up again and again in different forms. "The man said if I was black I ought to behave myself. I knew that if he was white he was not behaving himself. Are there not wrongs to be righted?" (150). Here, she points out how the oppressed class is supposed to apologize to their oppressors, whether the oppressors are in the wrong or not. Simply for existing, the oppressed are expected to apologize - no, not simply for existing, but existing where the oppressors can see them, must interact with them. A wrong to be righted indeed.

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