The Daily Poetry Movement
Free Labor by Frances Harper. There is a website at the bottom where you can go to read ex slaves poetry. There is a great selection of both men and women African American early poets listed there. I was browsing more radical art sites when I happened upon this appaerntly dull site, when I realized I had found this goldmine historical poem written by a woman. Also why can't I find the words to Black Panther Song by Elaine Brown? I hope that everyone is warm tonight, dreaming bright stars and love, for the time is soon.... Resist! Recycle!
Harper, Fances Ellen Watkins (1825-1911), African American writer and antislavery, women's rights, and temperance activist. As a lecturer, activist, poet, and novelist, Harper dedicated her life to promoting social uplift—of women, of African Americans, and of African American women in particular—in as many forums as she could find. In the process, she became one of the best-known and most respected black women of the 19th century.
Harper was born into a free black family in Baltimore, Maryland. She was orphaned at the age of two, and then raised by her uncle, the Rev. William Watkins, director of Baltimore's prestigious Academy for Negro Youth. Harper attended the school, where she studied Greek, Latin, and the Bible. As a result, she was better educated than most other American women of her day, black or white. Harper began writing poetry as a teenager, publishing the poetry collection Forest Leaves before she was 20. Her second career, as an activist, began almost a decade later.
During her lifetime, Harper was commemorated through F.E.W. Harper Leagues, Frances E. Harper Woman's Christian Temperance Unions, and chapters of other organizations that bore her name. Harper was also recognized by the Daughters of America and Patriots of the American Revolution.
I wear an easy garment, O'er it no toiling slave
Wept tears of hopeless anguish, In his passage
to the grave.
And from its ample folds Shall rise no cry to
God, Upon its warp and woof shall be No stain
of tears and blood.
Oh, lightly shall it press my form, Unladen with
a sigh, I shall not 'mid its rustling hear, Some
sad despairing cry.
This fabric is too light to bear The weight of
bondsmen's tears, I shall not in its texture trace
The agony of years.
Too light to bear a smother'd sigh, From some
lorn woman's heart, Whose only wreath of
household love Is rudely torn apart.
Then lightly shall it press my form, Unburden'd
by a sigh; And from its seams and folds shall
rise, No voice to pierce the sky,
And witness at the throne of God, In language
deep and strong, That I have nerv'd
Oppression's hand, For deeds of guilt and
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