Carrie Williams Clifford, a Poet and Activist

Carrie Williams Clifford’s poetry spoke to inequality; from the views of sexism and racism. The first book of poetry was dedicated to her mother, the second to Black people in America. She spoke of the need to “change some evil heart, right some wrong and raise some arm strong to deliver.” She didn’t just write poetry, she also wrote for newspapers like the NAACP Crisis and The Cleveland Journal. Her goal was to “uplift humanity”.

But this wasn’t her day job.

Carrie Williams Clifford was born in 1886 and moved to Ohio before high school. She married William H. Clifford, a Republican Ohio State Legislature. She was an organizer and leader in social and political causes. She started the Minerva Reading Club to discuss social issues, worked for the National Association of Colored Women, and founded Ohio Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs. These groups worked in the suffrage movement, with the goal of improving the lives of Black Women. She was just getting started.

Her friendship with W. E. B. DuBois inspired her work with The Niagara Movement, and the Harlem Renaissance. The family moved to Washington DC where Carrie hosted a Sunday evening intellectual disscussion group with people from Howard University.

Her social work and writing dealt with lynching in a personal way. She helped organize a Silent Parade in Washington to protest lynching. She met with President Taft looking for support for NAACP anti-lynching reforms.

She passed away in Washington DC in 1934.

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