Victorville awarding Irwin Academy student plaque for civil rights essay on Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

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Victorville to award Irwin Academy student plaque for civil rights essay on Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
Pictured left to right: Victor Elementary School District Superintendent Lori Clark, Victorville Mayor Debra Jones, Natalia Jackson, Irwin Academy School of Performing Arts sixth grade teacher Keiva Parm and Principal Gary White. Photo credit: City of Victorville

VICTORVILLE – Victorville in partnership with the Victor Elementary School District will award Irwin Academy School of Performing Arts student Natalia Jackson a plaque for her essay on Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, an American abolitionist, poet and public speaker. The plaque will be unveiled during a ceremony at Victorville City Hall on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 16.

Victorville hosts an annual Civil Right Essay contest for students to honor a civil rights leader. This year’s honoree, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was a co-founder of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs and the Director of the American Association of Colored Youth.

“Frances had many jobs in her life. At age 13 she got her first job as a seamstress and a nursemaid. Between the ages of 20 and 21 became an author/poet. In 1850, she published her first book called Forest Leaves. It was about the success of the antebellum black fight for literacy and education,” says Jackson in her essay.  

A portion of the essay will be printed on the plaque and placed in the city’s Civil Rights Memorial. 

“Natalia Jackson did a great job describing Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s efforts to fight for equality,” said Victorville Mayor Debra Jones. “We’re inspired by Natalia’s essay that tells the story of a brave and confident leader who was committed to making a difference in so many lives.”

RELATED: Victorville awards first fire academy scholarship amid wildland firefighter shortage 

Jackson’s plaque with the essay will be the eighth in the city’s memorial.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Asa Philip Randolph, Frederick Douglass, Cesar Chavez, Harriet Tubman, Lucy Burns, and Jackie Robinson are the others on display based on winning essays from previous years.

Jackson represents the first Irwin Academy School of Performing Arts student to be awarded the Civil Rights Essay contest winner.

The Civil Rights Memorial is located at Victorville City Hall, 14343 Civic Drive. To view Jackson’s full essay on Frances Ellen Watkins Harper click here.

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