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Hallie Quinn Brown, a known lecturer, reformer and educator, was born on March 10, 1849, in Pittsburgh, Pa. Brown was an elocutionist who helped to pioneer the movement for African American women’s clubs in the United States.
She was born to formerly enslaved people who were active with the Underground Railroad. In 1864, the Brown family moved to Canada but relocated to Ohio six years later. After moving to Ohio, Brown attended Wilberforce University and graduated in 1873.
Following her graduation from Wilberforce, Brown moved to Mississippi to embark on a teaching career. She taught in plantation and public schools in Mississippi and South Carolina. From 1885 to 1887, she served as the dean of Allen University in Columbia, SC, while continuing her own education at the Chautauqua Lecture School. Brown also taught at public schools in Dayton, Ohio, for four years prior to her departure to serve as a principal at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama under Booker T. Washington.
Brown was also a traveler, especially to Europe. In Great Britain, she became popular for speaking on African American life in the United States and she made several appearances before Queen Victoria. She was even a speaker at the 1895 convention of the World’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in London and represented the United States at the International Congress of Women in 1899.
The educator also took an interest in temperance groups and woman suffrage and often spoke on full citizenship for women and civil rights for African-Americans. Brown became involved in the Colored Women’s League of Washington, D.C. and she helped establish the National Association of Colored Women. She served as the group’s President from 1920 to 1924 and was later appointed as its honorary president for the remainder of her life. She was also the president of the Ohio State Federation of Colored Women’s Club.
During her life, Brown published works including “Bits and Odds: A Choice Selection of Recitations” (1880), “First Lessons in Public Speaking” (1920), and “Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction” (1926).
Brown died Sept. 16, 1949, in Wilberforce, Ohio and is buried at Massies Creek Cemetery in Cedarville, Ohio.