As a preacher and evangelist, Harriet Baker prepared both Black and White congregations to receive women as church leaders. Born in 1829 to a free woman, Baker constantly felt the threat of being stolen and sold into slavery.
In 1845, Harriet married a man named William Baker and bought a home in Columbia, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, due to the Fugitive Slave Bill, William was captured in 1851 and taken back to the slave owner from which he escaped. Harriet morgaged their house and raised money to purchase his freedom.
In 1872, as a member of the African Methodis Episcopal Church (AME), Baker announced her call to preach. Since the AME church did not ordain women as preachers, she left the church after loud opposition to her calling. Baker’s preaching grew with both Black and White congregations in the Northeast United States. Eventually, Baker became the first Black woman to be sanctions as a pastor in the AME church.
Against all odds, Harriet Baker listened to the voice of God. Despite governmental oppression, she fought for her marriage. Despite systematic exclusion of women, she persisted. Despite individuals opposing her, she succeeded. Go, and do the same.