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Anna Taylor Sweringen/Michal Scott: Hallie Quinn Brown – Inspirational Elocutionist and Hands-On Historian (Contest)
Sunday, October 29th, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…Sara D!

While sources differ on the year, Hallie Quinn Brown was born on March 10, 1850, to former slaves who migrated first to Canada then returned to the US and settled in Wilberforce Ohio. By the age of sixteen, she had graduated from the Chautauqua Lecture School and for the rest of her life gained renown as an eloquent elocutionist in Europe and America, speaking on the issues of temperance, women’s suffrage, and civil rights.

In 1873, she received a degree from Wilberforce College and lived a life dedicated to education as resistance. She taught in schools for the formerly enslaved in Mississippi and South Carolina. From 1885 to 1887, she taught at Allen University, Columbia, South Carolina, and also served as their dean. From 1892 to 1893, she served as Dean of Women at Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee Alabama. An interesting side note was provided my research by this Facebook video, Ohio oral historian Kweku Larry Franklin Crowe shares that Hallie Brown not only taught at Tuskegee but literally helped build it “sitting on a mule and dragging logs.” (The video is only 2 minutes long!)

She returned to Ohio to teach elocution at Wilberforce from 1893 to 1903. In the late 1890s, she frequently spoke on African American issues in London.

A firm believer in community action, she founded the Colored Woman’s League in 1896, served as president of the Ohio State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs from 1905 to 1912, and the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) from 1920 to 1924.

As head of the NACW, she helped spearhead African American opposition to a monument proposed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which would have depicted a Black woman caring for a white infant. The “Mammy” statue sought to foster the defeated South’s Lost Cause lie of slavery being beneficial to Blacks. Ms. Brown wrote “slave women are brutalized, the victims of white man’s caprice and lust. Often the babe torn from her arms was the child of her oppressor.” The bill proposing the monument died in the House of Representatives. Ron DeSantis and other Floridian history revisionists should take note.

Ms. Brown wrote four important works during her lifetime, the first, Bits and Odds, in 1880 and her fourth and most popular, Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction, a collaboration with over twenty other women in 1926.

She died on September 16, 1949, in Wilberforce, Ohio. I stand in awe of women like Hallie Brown who not only inspired by her own example but also shared the accomplishments of others as well. I hope in my own small way with these blogposts I’m following in her footsteps.

For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card share something about Hallie’s story that has inspired you.

The Spirit to Resist by Michal Scott
from Hot and Sticky: A Passionate Ink Charity Anthology

A woman may be made a fool of if she hasn’t the spirit to resist, but what does she do if, for the first time in her life, being made into a fool is exactly what she wants?

Excerpt from “The Spirit to Resist”

The fellows had terms for girls like Florence who made them hard and offered no relief.


Pee wee player.

Worst of all, vanilla.

Flirts and pee wee players were little girls in burgeoning bodies who tested the limits of their newly acquired womanhood. Timid and coquettish, they longed for, but feared, sexual experience.

Not vanillas.

Proudly defiant and unafraid, vanillas reveled in the effect their teasing had on their targets. The skill with which Florence taunted him proclaimed her Queen of the Vanillas. She’d be heading back to Brooklyn tomorrow. Today’s soiree was his last chance to obtain relief and release from this adept tormenter.

“Mother you’ve got to use every influence at your disposal to make sure Florence attends this Sunday’s soiree.”

His mother shook her head. “I doubt she’ll be making social rounds with all the packing she has to do. Honestly, you surprise me. I got the impression you two didn’t like each other.”

“That’s just a game we’re playing.” His mouth dried as if suddenly stuffed with cotton. He swallowed to free his tongue and spoke the unwelcome truth. “I like her a lot.”

A conspiratorial glint lit up his mother’s eyes. “Alright. We’ll make the Walters family guests of honor. That’ll insure her mother’s cooperation.”

Knowing his mother, her ploy would succeed. Florence would attend and he’d get his chance to put Florence’s teasing to the test.

Smirk away, Florence Walters. Your days as Queen of the Vanillas are over.



20 comments to “Anna Taylor Sweringen/Michal Scott: Hallie Quinn Brown – Inspirational Elocutionist and Hands-On Historian (Contest)”

  1. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · October 29th, 2023 at 1:31 pm · Link

    As always, thanks for letting me share, Delilah.

  2. Sara D
    · October 29th, 2023 at 3:31 pm · Link

    Hallie Brown being the founder and President of the Colored Woman’s League, the Ohio State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs and of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) from is amazing for the time period. She gave women a voice that they needed. I love that she lead the oppression to the ‘Mammy’ statue and expressed how the negro women’s were treated by the white owners to show why the statue should not be built.

  3. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · October 29th, 2023 at 3:58 pm · Link

    So true, Sara. One of the articles I read said she believed in the power of black women’s voices and that they should be heard. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Diane Sallans
    · October 29th, 2023 at 5:46 pm · Link

    going to the south to teach must have taken courage – I’m sure she was met with some prejudice and diffuculties

  5. Mary Preston
    · October 29th, 2023 at 6:21 pm · Link

    I am in awe as well. I feel compelled to do more. Amazing that she left Canada and travelled south. Such courage.

  6. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · October 30th, 2023 at 1:03 am · Link

    So true, Diane. Educating the formerly enslaved was a life threatening occupation. Thanks for commenting.

  7. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · October 30th, 2023 at 1:06 am · Link

    She returned to the US with her parents who helped to rebuild Wilberforce College in Ohio after southern confederate sympathizers burned the college’s buildings. It doe take courage to leave a safe place like Canada to go to hostile territory in the US. Takes dedication and courage. Thanks for commenting.

  8. Debra Guyette
    · October 30th, 2023 at 6:46 am · Link

    It could not have been easy to do everything she did. I admire her courage and determination.

  9. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · October 30th, 2023 at 6:47 am · Link

    Absolutely, Debra. Not at all easy but definitely worth it. Thanks for commenting.

  10. Jennifer Beyer
    · October 30th, 2023 at 8:13 pm · Link

    What stands out to me in this story is that we don’t learn this as part of our American History education. It helps to put a lot of things into perspective. Bonus, her history is just interesting and inspiring.

  11. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · October 30th, 2023 at 8:48 pm · Link

    So true, Jennifer. As I seek out these African American women, I wonder about women of other ethnicities whose stories aren’t given place in our American history education. Thanks for commenting.

  12. BN
    · October 30th, 2023 at 9:59 pm · Link

    she served as Dean

  13. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · October 30th, 2023 at 10:03 pm · Link

    A notable fact I think for a woman at that time, BN. Thanks for commenting.

  14. flchen
    · October 30th, 2023 at 11:23 pm · Link

    Wow–it cannot have been easy to openly protest something the majority is championing, but I admire Hallie for speaking boldly against something that would have contributed to the continued oppression of Black women and somehow glorified it along the way. What a reminder to use our voices!

  15. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · October 31st, 2023 at 3:48 pm · Link

    So true, flchen. Women like Hallie remind me not to be afraid to speak up when it’s called for. Thanks for commenting.

  16. Mary McCoy
    · November 5th, 2023 at 12:08 pm · Link

    I love the idea of education as resistance.

  17. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · November 5th, 2023 at 2:42 pm · Link

    Me too, Mary. Knowledge is power. Thanks for commenting.

  18. ButtonsMom
    · November 7th, 2023 at 12:18 pm · Link

    I am in awe of her accomplishments, especially organizing Colored Woman’s League and then serving as president of the Ohio State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs.

    Your blog post are always educational and enjoyable to read.

  19. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · November 7th, 2023 at 12:19 pm · Link

    Thanks, ButtonsMom.

  20. Delilah
    · November 8th, 2023 at 9:53 am · Link

    Thanks to Anna for another thoughtful post!

    The winner of the GC is…Sara D!

Comments are closed.