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Black History Month

History-makers of Southeast Louisiana

Alice Dunbar-Nelson


Alice Dunbar-Nelson (1875-1935)

Alice Dunbar-Nelson was a writer, educator, and social activist born in New Orleans to mixed-race parents. Her African American, Anglo, Native American, and Creole heritage contributed to her complex understandings of gender, race, and ethnicity, subjects she often wrote about. Her first book, Violets and Other Tales (1895), was published when she was just 20. Later that year she published The Goodness of St. Rocque and Other Short Stories. During her career, she wrote four novels, two volumes of oratory, dramas, newspaper columns, two collections of essays, poetry, short stories, and reviews, many of which drew on her extensive knowledge of Creole culture.  Dunbar-Nelson was among the major voices of the Harlem Renaissance. She was one of the few female African-American diarists of the early 20th century, she portrayed the complicated reality of African-American women and intellectuals, addressing topics such as racism, oppression, family, work, and sexuality.