Research Notes: Who is Rachel Flowers?


I pause to share my findings.

Rachel Flowers was born between 1901-1905. Four different sources give me FOUR different birth years:

The College: In her enrollment record, Rachel’s birth date was listed as August 2, 1905. When her brother enrolled at Messiah Academy his date of birth was also 1905. They were not twins.

The 1910 Census: In the 1910 Census, Rachel is listed as being born in 1901.

The 1920 Census: In the 1920 Census, I have two entries for Rachel, one being born in 1901 and the other in 1895.

The Social Security Death Index: This document listed her birth date as August 2, 1900.

Rachel Flowers is Harry’s and Nancy’s fourth child and eldest daughter. Her siblings are:

Chauncey Flowers (1895-1936)
John C. Flowers  (1897-Unknown)
Fred L Flowers (1899-Unknown)
Vincent Flowers (1905 (or 1907)-2002)
Gladys Flowers (1908-Unknown)
Hilda Clifford (1910 (or 1911)- Unknown)

Post-Messiah Bible Institute. Rachel Flowers was a Black socialite in the Harrisburg and Philadelphia area. In 1928, Rachel Helen Flowers entertained at her country home in Boiling Springs. In an article posted by the Philadelphia Tribune, a reporter wrote:

“Miss Rachel H. Flowers entertained on Saturaday afternoon some of Harrisburg’s most porminent school teachers at her beautiful country home, “Greenview Dwelling”…A large boquet of roses formed the centerpiece in the old fashioned dining room, and large vases of peonies, roses, and iris artistically placed in the living room, soon made guests forget the unfavorable weather.”

The article also listed the guests in attendance–two being her sisters, Miss Gladyce Flowers and Miss. Hilda C. Flowers.

Rachel was also an activist. Read her response to segregated school systems in Philadelphia.

“What Have You to Say” by Rachel Helen Flowers

To the Editor of the Tribune:

The old proverb, “Strike while the iron is hot,” is as full of truth today as in the days of old. It is quiet obvious that the seed of prejudice was sown by the Board of Education when Negroes were appointed to teach in school comprised only of Negro children. The acceptance of these positions was the acceptance of segregated schools.

What was done? Nothing. The 134,229 Negros in Philadelphia sat languidly be waiting for something to happen. And at last, the inevitable has happened.

Undoubtedly, the Board also waited until this pill was well digested, and since there was no noticeable reaction a second and worse attempt is made to dupe the public into the belief that the Negro teacher’s limitation is the 6th grade.

Today, the Negro population in Philadelphia is 219,599, an increase of 63.6 percent since 1920. What is going to be done about this most outrageous injustice that is being dealt to these Negroes? Cooperation is the remedy. Cooperation, in the near future, as it has not in the long past, must solve this and many other unsolved Negro problems. Cooperation, to the extent that we will fight for the rights that belong to us as American citizens, but which are denied to us because of color. But such cooperation, to be fruitful, demands intelligent, leadership, courage, and enthusiasm.

The theory, “The best interest of the Negro children is served under the Negro teacher,” (quoting Jas A. Newby in a recent  issue in this column) is all the “bunk” and only tends toward greater discrimination. On the contrary, the best interest of the American children is served under the efficient teacher, irrespective of race or color. The Negro teacher will then be given the proper place. The competent Negro will be appointed to teach, not only in colored schools, but in mixed, junior, and senior  high schools and colleges in Philadelphia and elsewhere.

The poisonous venom of prejudice is largely practiced in schools. Hence, if we will oust segregation from the school system , segregation as a whole is doomed.

However, the conclusions show with unmistakable clearness, when the minds of youth are instilled with the idea that the government of this country exists for the protection and preservation of the people– the things to which we are so bitterly opposed– segregated schools, segregated politics, and segregated movies, will dissolve, as it were, into utter oblivion. “

Rachel H. Flowers


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