Women's Activism NYC

Annie Harper

1920 - 2015

By: Sandye Wilson | Date Added:

Annie Harper was fearless, unyielding, bigger-than-life, and at times, a bit of a tyrant. She was tough. Annie was Born in Saluda, South Carolina, on October 19, 1920 or ...maybe it was October 20. Annie often said, ‘They didn’t always get the birth certificate right with colored folks back then, but, no matter… I am here.’ Yes, she was. Annie Harper was SO here. She was a nurse and a matriarch to many. Annie had a no-nonsense demeanor; a big laugh and personality but she didn’t suffer fools, lightly. Incredibly generous, there were many folks that counted on her in some kind of way...whether they needed money or food or a way out of a situation that was much too painful for them. Annie gave without expecting in return. She was direct and stern but supported anyone in need. She taught me to do the same; to walk in other's shoes; to live in truth and integrity and to always be in service...but not to be a fool. Annie was something... She filled my childhood with laughter, southern rituals, church, car trips up north, coconut pies, boiled peanuts, fried fish with biscuits and Annie-isms that will last a lifetime. One of my fondest memories was when my boyfriend and I went to visit Annie in Columbia, South Carolina, in the 1980’s before we took a cross country road trip. We had an old, sexy, white, two seater, spitfire car. We were just in the midst of saying our goodbyes…I was a bit teary-eyed when Annie pulled me aside and said ‘Take a little walk with me before you get back on that road’. She handed me an envelope with a wad of cash in it…I tried to give it back to her. I told her that we had both saved up for the summer for this trip so we were prepared. I wanted her to know I was all grown up. Annie shook her head and said 'Take this money, you gon’ need it—That car ain’t gonna make it cross country'… She was right. Annie died on June 17, 2015 at age 94. I was unable to stand up and speak at her funeral…I felt my legs and heart unstable… Here’s to Annie: Thank you for the love, the fierce care, for straightening my hair and letting it out so I could feel it down my back…Thank you for making sure I woke up in church in time for the sermon, for sewing my clothes so beautifully, for the car trips, the coconut pies, the money when I needed it. Thank you for sharing the brandy with me when I was finally an adult…and telling me that I could re-invent myself at any time because the world really was mine....

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