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The Frances Project is a Philadelphia-based celebration in association with the Commonwealth Monument Project, designed to bring the life and work of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper to bear on the momentous election year of 2020, the same year we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and 100th anniversary of the 19th. Throughout 2020, Philadelphia heritage and cultural institutions will explore Harper's poetry, novels, and speeches and her work to expand voting rights for Black people and women alongside work by contemporary authors and activists. Literary and performance-based events will be produced by Live and Learn, which has been facilitating a democratic approach to the arts since 2006.


Launched in 2018, the Commonwealth Monument Project has sought to memorialize Harrisburg's lost Eighth Ward, a storied Black neighborhood demolished to build Pennsylvania's Capitol Park. The theme of the memorial, by artist Becky Ault, is a "gathering at the crossroads" of the history of these interrelated constitutional amendments as well four central figures in Pennsylvania's 19th century fight for civil rights: William Howard Day, Jacob Compton, Morris Chester, and Frances Harper. 

The Frances Project emerges from a series of collaborative sessions organized by the Commonwealth Monument Project with Philadelphia scholars, activists, authors, and artists hosted by Little Giant Creative, Temple University's Blockson Collection, the Free Library of Philadelphia, the First Unitarian Church, and Mother Bethel.


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Lenwood Sloan



Choreographer, arts administrator, and collaborator. Former director, Pennsylvania Cultural and Heritage Tourism Program.


Kalela Williams


Writer, arts administrator, tour producer. Director of Neighborhood Library Enrichment Free Library of Philadelphia.


Nathaniel Popkin



Writer, historian, and filmmaker. Author of six books of fiction and non-fiction and co-editor of the anthology Who Will Speak for America?

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