BHM: Hallie Quinn Brown

My apologies to Hallie Quinn Brown, but I have been doing these all day in an attempt to get caught up, so this is going to be a quickie.

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Hallie Quinn Brown

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Hallie Quinn Brown was a feminist organizer, activist, and academic from Ohio. All though not part of the accepted canon, she is best known amongst her contemporaries for her work as a suffragette and against segregation.

Inspired by her own mother, Hallie Quinn Brown committed her early life exclusively to education. She worked to bring literacy to black children in the South and help ensure a better life through education. She worked almost exclusively on plantations to reach the most marginalized children. She then went on to be the Dean of Allen University and to work with Booker T Washington at the Tuskegee Institute.

Brown was a powerful orator and made a name for herself speaking primarily on women’s issues. She spoke at Temperance Leagues in both England and the U.S. and she was also a regular speaker for women’s suffrage around the country.

Like Wells, Brown spoke in England about African American and women’s rights. In 1889 she represented the United States at the International Congress of Women held in London. She also made several appearances at Buckingham Palace at the request of Queen Victoria who was interested in the intersections of race and gender activism in the U.S.

In 1925, Brown started a walk out of black performers in Washington DC during the All American Musical Festival of the International Council of Women after the organizers decided to segregate black performers from white ones. Brown reminded the women that they were all working toward women’s rights and equality and that if black performers were not allowed to participate as equals they would not participate at all. When the organizers stood their ground, 200 black entertainers either walked out or boycotted the event inspired by Brown’s passionate speech.

She was a strong supporter of women’s organizations and women’s participation in civic life. She helped promote and organize with the Colored Women’s League which later became part of the National Association of Colored Women started by Ida b. Wells. When she retired from teaching, she became the President of the National Association of Colored Women as well. She was also the president of the Ohio Association of Colored Women’s Clubs.

Brown was also involved in politics. She was one of the only Republicans likely to end up on this list. In 1924, she addressed the RNC in support of Calvin Coolidge. His support of African American women made her believe that he was the best candidate to ensure the continued progress of social justice issues impacting women of color.

She also published books and collections. Her 1926 publication Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction hoped to preserve the stories and lives of important black women activists from the U.S. and Canada. Recognizing its import to herstory, it was republished by Oxford Uni Press in 1992.

A tireless advocate for both women and education, Brown spent the later part of her life establishing the Hallie Q. Brown scholarship Fund for the Education of women.

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