Harriett Davy Forten

The mother of Robert and Joseph, Harriett Davy Forten, was the daughter of a famous abolitionist and Revolutionary War veteran by the name of James Forten. Harriett and her sisters eventually became abolitionists themselves and developed the "Black Female Literacy Association." The focus of the group was to try an empower black women to become abolitionists themselves. Harriett was also involved in the Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League and American Equal Rights Association as part of her abolitionist and women's rights activist career. Harriett eventually married Robert Purvis Sr., who was graciously accepted into the family, and the two of them, like Harriett's father, would house runaway slaves and help them evade capture. The two were also part of the Colored Free Produce Association which refused to use products created by slaves as a way of protesting the inequality. Harriett was so invested in the abolitionist and women's rights movement that she would often go to meetings while pregnant with her children.  The couple's first son was named William, the second, Robert Jr., the third, Joseph, and the fourth, Harriett. Unfortunately, Harriett would have to bury Robert Jr, and Joseph as the two died at the ages of 28 and 14 respectively. The struggles became overwhelming at times for the Purvis' as at one point, they were considering emigrating to another country in order to avoid the racism that was present in America. The family ultimately decided to stay. Harriett eventually passed away on June 11th, 1875,

Winch, Julie. A Gentlemen of Color: The Life of James Forten. Oxford University Press, 2003. Page 95, 260-264.

The Sons and Daughters of Freedom