Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hallie Quinn Brown

Hallie Quinn Brown was a noted educator, lecturer, and elocutionist. She also was an author and social and political activist.

Besides the five year lecture tour mentioned in my earlier post Brown made two other trips to Europe. Frederick Douglass sent a letter with Brown to introduce her to his “British friends”. She was a very successful fundraiser. In addition to other support she obtained a one time gift of $15,000 from Julia Emery, a British philanthropist. This money was used to build Emery Hall at Wilberforce University. The building still stands today and is scheduled for restoration and renovation.

Brown was an organizer and crusader for several civil rights movements. She was active in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. When she saw a need for a national organization to support black women in America she helped establish the Colored Woman’s League of Washington, D.C. in 1894. This later became the National Association of Colored Women for which she served as president from 1920 to 1924. During her presidency the organization worked to preserve the Frederick Douglas Home in Washington, D.C. and set up a scholarship fund for women. She was also president of the Ohio Federation of Colored Women.

Her interest in clubs for women carried over to Europe. She was a member of the British Women’s Temperance Association, was given membership to the Royal Geographical Society of Scotland, and was elected a member of the International Council of Women. She helped establish, in 1895, the first British Chautauqua in North Wales.

In addition to being active in clubs Brown was very involved at Wilberforce University. She was a professor of elocution there and on the board of trustees. A member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Brown taught Sunday School classes on the Wilberforce campus.

Brown was a passionate Republican and envisioned elocution as a way to participate in politics. She spoke at the 1920 Republican convention in support of Warren Harding for the United States presidency. Harding ran a “front porch campaign’ from his Victorian house in Marion, Ohio. People came from all over to hear him. Brown was the first woman to speak from his famous front porch. In 1932 she actively campaigned for Herbert Hoover’s presidential campaign.

Brown authored eight books among them were: Bits and Odds: A choice Selection of Recitations, First Lessons in Public Speaking, Tales My Father Told, and Other Stories, and Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction.

She lived to be almost 100 years old but died on September 16, 1949 and is buried in the family plot in Massie’s Creek Cemetery.

The Hallie Q. Brown Memorial Library at Central State University was named in her honor.

LaVerne C. Kenon Sci, Historic Site Manager of the Paul Lawrence Dunbar House State Memorial, frequently does a re-enactment of Hallie Q. Brown. “I decided to interpret her because she was an ordinary person who achieved extraordinary heights during her lifetime of 99 years, six months, and six days,” said Sci. “She became an advocate for the disenfranchised in our society.”

WHAT: Paul Lawrence Dunbar House State Memorial

WHERE: 219 North P.L. Dunbar St., Dayton, OH

WHEN: weekly Wed.-Sun.

TIME: Wed.-Sat. 9am-5pm, Sun. noon-5pm

COST: adults $6, Seniors $5, students $3, children 5 and under free

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