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Fri, 10.11.1861

Josephine Henderson Heard, Poet, and Teacher born

Josephine Heard

*On this date in 1861, we mark the birth of Josephine Henderson Heard.  She was a Black teacher and poet.  

Josephine Delphine Henderson was born the daughter of two enslaved parents in Salisbury, North Carolina.  After Emancipation, a goal was set for her to become a teacher.   At age 21, she married William Henry Heard in 1882. She held teaching positions in many cities as she traveled with her husband, an AME Church leader. Her joy in teaching is reflected in the preface of her 1890 volume of poetry entitled Morning Glories.

She wrote, “from a heart that desires to encourage and inspire the youth of the Race.” The work contained seventy-two original poems by her. It was revised and expanded in 1891. Her husband provides additional insight into her life, writing in his memoir, “She is scholarly and poetic, and her use of the English language, as well as the criticism of my sermons, have done much in making me the preacher they say I am."  

Josephine Delphine Henderson Heard died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, around 1921.  Her poem "Black Sampson" is included in the anthology She Wields a Pen: American Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century, edited by Janet Gray.  

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