Frances Harper (1825 - 1911)
Harper's novel about the Reconstructed South, Iola Leroy, or Shadows Uplifted (1892), was the first book published by a black American. Born of free parents and self-educated, Harper worked as a nursemaid, seamstress, needlework teacher, and writer. She produced ten volumes of poetry and many articles, along with her novel. Advocating women's rights as well as abolition, Harper lectured at the 1869 meeting of the Equal Rights Association. But when the schism occurred between abolitionists and feminists, she sided with Fredrick Douglass, who believed that the issue of race had priority over that of gender. Harper continued her work on behalf of black women, founding the National Association of Colored Women and serving as its vice president until her death.