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The famous quote "Every mother should endeavor to be a true artist" was delivered by Frances E. W. Harper in front of the Brooklyn Literary Society in 1892. Harper was a firm supporter of the abolitionist movement and was inspired by the story of a freed man who had been sold back into slavery, escaped, returned to slavery, and died. She lectured widely in support of abolishing slavery and her poems present vivid images of heart-wrenching tales of slavery, of children torn from their mothers. Yet she is hopeful.
"Every mother should endeavor to be a true artist who knows how to weave into her child's life images of grace and beauty, the true poetry capable of writing on the soul of childhood the harmony of love and truth, and teaching it how to produce the grandest of all poems—the poetry of a true and a noble life."
In "The Slave Mother," she describes a mother's torment as her son is taken from her by slavers ("Heard you that shriek?"). In "Eliza Harris," a desperate mother runs to freedom to save her child from slavers either by giving him freedom or a grave. She has promised herself that she will not let her son live as a slave. In the end she manages to save her child ("Oh poverty, danger and death she can brave. For the child of her love is no longer a slave."). So the true artist paves the slavery-free future for her child.
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