About Harper Junior High

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper Junior High School, located on the east side of Davis, is a comprehensive secondary school that serves students in grades 7, 8, and 9. The school includes over 500 students, over 30 teachers, 2 full-time counselors, a half-time librarian, 2 library techs, four office personnel, 13 para-educators, 3 campus supervisors, and 3 custodians.

Harper provides a rigorous academic program and strives to provide each student with an engaging and relevant learning experience. We believe we are all literacy teachers here at Harper! All students are enrolled in five core subjects, including English, math, science, social studies, and physical education. Since Harper operates with a seven period day, most students also complete two elective classes each year, choosing from career and technical education, fine and performing arts, cross-age tutoring, leadership, and world language. Students may also enroll in special support classes such as AVID, Reading, Writing, Math Tech, ELD, and Bridge. (Bridge is a tutoring-mentor- support program that partners our students with UC Davis students.)

Who was Frances Ellen Watkins Harper?

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, born in Baltimore, was the only child of free Black parents. She was an abolitionist, orator, poet, and novelist.  She attended a school run by her uncle, who was an abolitionist, until she was fourteen. From 1839 to 1849, she continued to educate herself while working as a housekeeper and seamstress in the home of a Baltimore bookstore owner. It was during the period of 1850 to 1852 when, moved by the plight of fugitive slaves, she pledged her life's service to the causes of abolitionism and racial justice.

Harper published the first of nine books of poetry in Boston in 1854. After her first lecture, "The Elevation and Education of Our People," she became a lecturer for the Maine Anti-Slavery Society. During the subsequent six years, she toured eight states speaking, reading her poetry and delivering her message of civil rights for all people.

From 1860 to 1864, Harper gave up the lecture circuit. She settled on a farm in Ohio, devoting her time to being a wife and mother. Following her husband's death in 1864, she and her daughter returned to Philadelphia so she could resume her public speaking career. She traveled throughout the South, speaking on education, civil rights, temperance, domestic reform, and the need to bring an end to the practice of lynching.

In 1871, she made Philadelphia her permanent home. Harper devoted her time to writing and lecturing on social and moral issues of nationwide concern. Harper was the first Black woman to publish a novel, Iola Leroy: or Shadow Uplifted (1893). She was also the first Black woman to publish a short story, The Two Offers (1859).