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Dunbar-Nelson

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 8 months ago

Alice Dunbar-Nelson

1875-1935

 

    Short-story writer, poet, teacher, and black political activist, Alice Dunbar-Nelson was born Alice Ruth Moore in New Orleans, Louisiana, the second daughter of a seaman father and a seamstress mother.  After attending a two-year teachers' training program, she had her first book, Violents and Other Tales--a collection of twelve poems and seventeen sketches--privately printed in 1895.  When one of the poems in this volume was first published in the Boston Monthly Review, it caught the fancy of the young black poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, who began to correspond with her.  A few years, later, the pair met and married, and Nelson began teaching in the New York City school system while also serving as recording secretary of the National Assoicaiton of Colored Women. In 1899, her second book, The Goodness of St Rocques and Other Stories, appeared, and in 1902, after she and Dunbar separated (later to divorce), she began teaching at the Howard High School in Wilmington, Delaware, where she was to be a popular instructor and the head of the English department for eighteenyers.

 

    In 1916, Alice Moore Dunbar remarried; her second hsusband, Robert John Nelson, wa the publisher of the Wilmington Advocate, a weekly newspaper dedicated the the cause of black rights.  Continually energetic, she edited several anthologies in these years--Masterpieces of Negro Eloquence (1914) and The Dunbar Speaker and Entertainer (1920)--and, besides working on many councils and committees, wrote a regular column for the Washington Eagle.  In 1920, she risked--and lost--her teeaching position because she insisted (despite her school district's rules forbidding employees to engage in political activity) on attending a meeting at which the presidential candidate Warren Harding's racial policies were to be formulated.  From 1928 to 1931, she served as executive secretary of the American Interracial Peace Committee, a group sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee which worked to encourage black support for world peace.  Not coincidentally, a poem like "I Sit and Sew", one of the comparateively few verses she wrote, expresses Nlson's distinctively femaile frustration at the "wasted fields" of a world at war, a worls she conistently tried to improve.

 

 

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