Alice Ruth Moore was born in New Orleans to middle-class parents Patricia Wright, a seamstress and former slave, and Joseph Moore, a merchant marine, who were people of color and part of the traditional multiracial Creole community of the city. At a time when fewer than 99% of any people went to college, Moore graduated from Straight University (now Dillard University) in 1892 and started work as a teacher in the public school system of New Orleans.
In 1895 her first collection of short stories and poems, Violets and Other Tales, was published by The Monthly Review. About that time, Moore moved to New York. She co-founded and taught at the White Rose Mission (White Rose Home for Girls) in Brooklyn. Beginning a correspondence with the poet and publisher Paul Dunbar, she ended up moving to Washington, DC to join him when they married in 1898.
She and Paul Dunbar separated in 1902 but were never divorced. He was reported to have been disturbed by her lesbian affairs. Paul Dunbar died in 1906.
Alice Dunbar Nelson was an American poet, journalist and political activist. In 1898 she married poet and journalist Paul Laurence Dunbar and ended up moving to Washington, DC, to join him. He was reported to have been disturbed by her lesbian affairs. In 1902, after he beat her nearly to death, she left him, and moved to Delaware. In 1910, she married Henry A. Callis, a prominent physician and professor at Howard University, but this marriage ended in divorce. In 1916, she married the poet and civil rights activist Robert J. Nelson. She joined him in becoming active in politics in Wilmington and the region. They stayed together for the rest of their lives.
Alice Dunbar then moved to Wilmington, Delaware and taught at Howard High School for more than a decade. In 1910 she married Henry A. Callis, a prominent physician and professor at Howard University, but this marriage ended in divorce.
From 1913 to 1914, Dunbar was coeditor and writer for the A.M.E. Review, an influential church publication produced by the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME Church). In 1916 she married the poet and civil rights activist Robert J. Nelson. She joined him in becoming active in politics in Wilmington and the region. They stayed together for the rest of their lives. From 1920, she coedited the Wilmington Advocate, a progressive black newspaper. She also published The Dunbar Speaker and Entertainer, a literary anthology for a black audience.
Alice Dunbar Nelson was an activist for African Americans' and women's rights, especially during the 1920s and 1930s. While she continued to write stories and poetry, she became more politically active in Wilmington, and put more effort into numerous articles and journalism on leading topics. In 1915 she was field organizer for the Middle Atlantic states for the woman's suffrage movement. In 1918 she was field representative for the Woman's Committee of the Council of Defense. In 1924 Dunbar-Nelson campaigned for the passage of the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill, but the Southern Democratic block in Congress defeated it.
From about 1920 on, she made a commitment to journalism and was a highly successful columnist, with articles, essays and reviews appearing as well in newspapers, magazines, and academic journals. She was a popular speaker and had an active schedule of lectures through these years. Her journalism career originally began with a rocky start. During the late nineteenth century, it was still unusual for women to work outside of the home, let alone an African American woman, and the journalism business was a hostile, male-dominated field. In her diary, she spoke about the tribulations associated with the professional of journalism – "Damn bad luck I have with my pen. Some fate has decreed I shall never make money by it" (Diary 366). She discusses being denied pay for her articles and issues she had with receiving proper recognition for her work.
She moved from Delaware to Philadelphia in 1932, when her husband joined the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission. During this time her health was in decline and she died from a heart ailment on September 18, 1935, at the age of sixty. She is interred at the Wilmington and Brandywine Cemetery in Wilmington, Delaware.
She was made an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority. Her papers were collected by the University of Delaware.
Her diary was published in 1984 and detailed her life during the years 1921 and 1926 to 1931 (“Alice Dunbar-Nelson”). As one of only two journals of nineteenth century African American women, Dunbar-Nelson's diary provided useful insight into the lives of black women during this time. It "summarizes her position in an era during which law and custom limited access, expectations, and opportunities for black women" (“Alice Dunbar-Nelson”). Her diary addressed issues such as family, friendship, sexuality, health, professional problems, travels, and often financial difficulties.
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Amazon: Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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