Nannie Helen Burroughs Book Report

Excerpt from Book Report :

Nannie Helen Burroughs: A Review

Born on May 2nd, 1879 in Orange, Virginia, Nannie Helen Burroughs was the daughter of two former slaves. At the age of five, Burroughs lost her father, and was subsequently moved to Washington, D.C. By her mother, who sought a better education for her two young daughters. Many years after the move, Burroughs graduated in 1896 with honors in business and domestic science from what was then called the Colored High School in D.C. This move in pursuit of Burroughs' education seems to be the jumping off point for the great accomplishments she would achieve later in life. While not a traditional biography of any sort, Opal V. Easter's analysis of Nannie Helen Burroughs' life and accomplishments is an extensive study of a trailblazer seeking to make education accessible to her people. The book takes necessary aim at Burroughs' revolutionary exploits throughout her life, and focuses on the extraordinary fact that what was once a privilege and nearly unattainable, is now considered an unalienable right amongst all Americans.

Early in her career, Nannie Helen Burroughs helped to establish the National Association of Colored Women. This association was the product of a merger of several other organizations, including the National Federation of Afro-American Women and the National League of Colored Women. During this time she was working in direct contact with other key players in the progressive movement, including Harriet Tubman and Mary Church Terrell. This organization was guided by their goal "to furnish evidence of the moral, mental and material progress made by people of color through the efforts of [their] women." This organization would go on to make great strides, not only in the advancement of colored women, but in the movement towards
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women's suffrage and the battle against lynching in the south.

Despite this great accomplishment early on in Burroughs' life, Opal V. Easter's book focuses more on Burroughs' role in the Woman's Convention and the National Training School. In 1900 Burroughs, already deeply involved in the National Baptist Convention, became a key player in the founding of the Woman's Convention. This Woman's Convention was essentially an assembly from local churches and other various political associations. The members emphasized and organized a variety of charity activities, as well as special missions both domestically and abroad. Burroughs would continue to act as the corresponding secretary for the organization for nearly 50 years following its founding, and would go on to make several major speeches regarding the cause, such as the famous and articulate "Women's Part in the World's Work," which she delivered in London in 1905 to the First Baptist World Alliance. Easter's novel underlines the struggle felt not just by black women, but by all women during this time, undervalued by the men that held control of the world around them.

Through her work with the Women's Convention, Burroughs was able to garner support for furthering education amongst women in America, and ultimately founded the National Training School for Women and Girls (NTS), which was officially opened up in 1909 in the Lincoln Heights part of Washington, D.C. Burroughs was aided in the procurement of this school by gaining financial support from various aspects of her community, notably women in support of the cause. Even the predominantly white, conservative Woman's American Baptist Home Mission Society, a religious institution, offered a great deal of financial help, despite the fact that the school offered a non-denominational enrollment policy to girls of all religions. The school broke amazing ground in the…

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Works Cited

Easter, Opal V. Nannie Helen Burroughs. New York: Garland Publishing, 1995.

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