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205 Conclusion In the summer of 1907, the Reverend J. W. Brown presided over the dedication of the newly constructed Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Rochester, New York.∞ Even prior to the opening ceremonies , Memorial Church was touted as black Rochester’s grandest edifice. Among its outstanding features were four stained-glass windows, illustrating the causes to which Zionites had devoted themselves during the denomination ’s 120-year history. One window depicted Harriet Tubman, a member of Zion’s Auburn, New York, congregation, who symbolized overt resistance to the institution of chattel slavery. Tubman famously shepherded enslaved African Americans northward via the Underground Railroad. Another window featured a likeness of Frederick Douglass, who began his oratory career as a Zion exhorter, represented the labors of ministers and laypeople alike in the abolitionist movement of the antebellum North.≤ A third window portrayed Dr. Joseph C. Price, an educator and the first president of Zion’s Livingstone College, located in Salisbury, North Carolina. Price represented the church’s commitment to the education and the welfare of freed people in the South after the Civil War. It was, however, the face of a white woman in the fourth window—that of Susan B. Anthony—that might have caused the casual visitor to Memorial Church to pause.≥ The window included a portrait of Anthony along with her famous statement, ‘‘Failure is Impossible.’’ Anthony was well known as a longtime Rochester resident and a zealous advocate of women’s rights.∂ This tribute to Anthony’s life and work was made possible through the e√orts of Rochester resident Hester Je√rey and her associates in the Susan B. Anthony Club, one of the hundreds of African American women’s clubs of the early twentieth century.∑ The images in the windows of Memorial Church were also a tribute 206 Conclusion to the African American woman question debate, encompassing many of its themes and principles. The images of Douglass and Anthony captured the rich cross-pollination of the antebellum antislavery and women’s rights movements. The valorization, not of saints, but of nominally secular leaders in the windows of a religious sanctuary suggested the permeability of the religious-secular divide. The image of Price, a southerner, in a northern congregation, suggested the extent to which African American public culture traversed divisions between the nation’s northern and southern halves. Women’s agency was boldly a≈rmed, certainly through the image of Anthony , but also through the image of Tubman. And these women’s divergent life stories pointed up the di√ering consequences that the dynamics of race and gender had for black and white women. The contests and the cooperation between generations were captured in the opposing images of Douglass, a product of the antebellum era, and Price, who came of age in the postwar era. Finally, each of the images in the window of Rochester’s ame Zion Church was a reminder of the extent to which African American public culture was deeply embedded in the nation’s social and political transformations . While each of the individuals memorialized held significance for ame Zion Church and the city of Rochester, their lives encompassed much more: the abolitionist and women’s rights movements and fugitive slave reform movements of the antebellum era, and the struggles for education and civil and political rights of the postwar years. But the distance that the African American woman question debate had traveled was best reflected not in this homage to late leaders but in the process by which the windows had come to be installed in the new sanctuary. A woman, Hester Je√rey, oversaw this undertaking. Je√rey, in a long-standing tradition, raised the necessary funds. But as a product of the woman’s era, she also led the committee that oversaw the production of the windows and controlled the podium when her accomplishments were unveiled. Je√rey was a living testament to the force of the nineteenth-century woman question debate. Je√rey was the wife of R. Jerome Je√rey and the daughter-in-law of the Reverend Rosewell Je√rey, an a∆uent and prominent political activist. An organizer and an activist in her own right, Hester Je√rey was a member of the Political Equality Club, the Woman’s Protective Club of Rochester, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, the (Frederick) Douglass Monument Committee, and the National Afro-American Council. She founded or helped to organize a number of local African...


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