|OUR AFRO-AMERICAN REPRESENTATIVES AT -- THE WORLD'S FAIR|
It was the earnest wish of the Afro-Americans that they should be given representation upon the National Committee of the World's Fair; in this they were sadly disappointed. A fair representation, however, was accorded them upon the State Boards.
The first appointment was made by governor Robert E. Pattison, of Pennsylvania.
To Robert Purvis, of Philadelphia, was accorded the honor of being made a Commissioner for the States of Pennsylvania. Mr. Purvis is well past the threescore years and ten usually allotted to mortals of today. The death of the poet Whittier leaves him the only surviving member of the body of sixty persons that signed the Declaration of Sentiments of the National Committee, which met in Philadelphia fifty-nine years ago to found the American Anti-Slavery Society. The life-work of Robert Purvis has been the amelioration of the condition of the weaker race, to which he is allied by perhaps one-eight a strain of blood.
Left in comfortable circumstances by a wealthy father, with a brilliant education and large native talent,
An intelligent family of children surround him in his old age, all being the offspring of his first wife, formerly a Miss Forten, of Philadelphia. One son, Dr. Charles Purvis, was for a number of years Surgeon-in Chief of the Freedmen's Hospital, at Washington, D.C.
Mr. Puvis' home is full of books, pictures and curios relative to the history of the race. The University of Pennsylvania has dedicated an alcoves to Anti-Slavery literature in its new library building, the alcoves being named the Purvis Alcoves. Mr. Purvis and Dr. Furness haves given to the library many valuable works, among them a complete edition of Wm. Lloyds Garrison's Liberator. Within these later years this venerable philanthropist has largely confined his labors to securing opportunities for intelligent members of the race in higher grades of work.
The most valued possession of this great survivor
"A Woman's Auxiliary Committee to represent the work of women through the State of Pennsylvania, was formed to work with the State Board. One of the first ladies appointed on this board, was Miss Florence A. Lewis, of Philadelphia. It can truly be said that Miss Lewis represents in her personally the symmetrical development and complete womanhood that it is possible for the Afro-American woman to attain under favoring circumstances.
"Born and raised in Philadelphia, she is one of that younger group of women who have made the most of the opportunities of a wide-awake northern city. Miss Lewis was graduated from the Institution for Colored Youth, and passed successfully the State examination for certificate to teach in the public schools. She taught in one of the Grammar schools for a number of years, at the same time doing literary work for several
"Bright, witty and interesting, Miss Lewis has a charm and refinement of manner that make her a worthy addition to Pennsylvania's `Group of Noble Dames.'
"The position on the Board of Woman Managers of the State of New York for the Columbian Exposition was entirely unsought by Miss Imogene Howard. Her experience has been a very pleasant one thus far. Her special position on the board is as one of five of the `Committee on Education.'
"Joan Imogene Howard was born in the city of Boston, Mass. Her father, Edward F. Howard, is an old and well-known citizen of that city, and her mother Joan L. Howard, now deceased, was a native of New York. She has one sister, Miss Adeline T.
"Having a mother cultured, refined and intellectual, her earliest training was received from one well qualified to guide and direct an unfolding mind. At the age of fourteen, having completed the course prescribed in the Wells' Grammar School, Blossom street, Boston, she graduated with her class, and was one of the ten honor pupils who received silver medals.
"Her parents encouraged her desire to pursue a higher course of instruction, and consequently after a successful entrance examination, she became a student at the `Girls' High and Normal School.' She was the first colored young lady to enter and, after a three years' course, to graduate from this, which was, at that time, the highest institution of learning in her native city.
"A situation as an assistant teacher in Colored Grammar School No. 4--now Grammar School No. 81--was immediately offered. Here she has labored ever since endeavoring to harmoniously develop the pupils of both sexes who have been committed to her care.
"Many of her pupils have become men and women of worth, and hold positions of honor and trust
"For several years an evening school, which was
"As time advances more is required of all individuals in all branches of labor. Teaching is no exception, and in recognition of this she took a course in `Methods of Instruction' at the Saturday sessions of the Normal College, of N. Y. She holds a diploma from this institution , and thus has the privilege of signing `Master of Arts' to her name. This year  still another step has been taken, for, after a three years' course at the University of the City of New York, she has completed the junior course in Educational History, Psychology, Educational Classics and Methodology. As a result of this she has had conferred upon her the degree of Master of Pedagogy."
"Nothing but pleasant surprises await the people of America in getting acquainted with the ever increasing number of bright Afro-American men and women whose varied accomplishments and achievements furnish some of the most interesting episodes in newspaper literature.
"Some months ago wide publicity was given to the brilliant sallies of wit and eloquence of a young Afro-American woman of Chicago in appealing to the Board of Control of the World's Columbian Exposition in behalf of the American Negro. The grave and matter-of-fact
"She was graduated from the college department of the State Normal School very young and began at once to teach school. For about ten years she was a successful teacher in the public schools of Washington, D. C., and resigned only when she
"With no cares of children she lives an active life. She is secretary of the Art Department of the Woman's Branch of the Congress Auxiliaries of the World's Columbian Exposition. This Committee has the active and honorary membership of the most distinguished women artists of the world, and Mrs. Williams enjoys the esteem of all who know her in this highly important branch of the World's Fair.
"She is also an active member of the `Illinois Woman's Alliance,' in which she serves as chairman of the Committee on `State Schools for Dependent Children.' She is likewise actively interested in the
"Mrs. Williams' home life is unusually charming and happy. The choice of pictures and an ample library give an air of refinement and culture to her pretty home. She and her husband are active members of All Souls' Unitarian Church, of Chicago, and the Prudence Crandall Study Club. Mrs. Williams manifests an intelligent interest in all things that pertain to the well-being of the Afro-Americans and never hesitates to speak or write when her services are solicited. Her wide and favorable acquaintance with nearly all the leading Afro-American men and women of the country, and her peculiar faculty to reach and interest influential men and women of the dominant race in presenting the peculiar needs of her people, together with her active intelligence, are destined to make Mrs. William's a woman of conspicuous usefulness."
Next to that of Mr. Robert Purvis, the most important appointment made in connection with the race at the World's Fair is that of Hon. Hale G. Parker, Commissioner at Large. Mr. Parker is a citizen of St. Louis, Mo., but a native of Ripley, Ohio; he is
Mr. J. E. Johnson, of Baltimore, held for several months a position as assistant upon the Government Board. Mrs. A. W. Curtis, of Chicago, held for a short time the position of "Secretary of Colored Interests of the World's Fair."
The last appointment was that of Mrs. S. L. Williams, New Orleans, to the Educational Committee of the State Board for the World's Fair. Mrs. Williams is the originator, president, secretary, and treasurer of an orphan asylum for girls. The institution was opened August 24, 1892, with the enrolment of 69