Alice Moore Dunbar Nelson

You ask me my opinion about the Negro dialect in literature? Well, frankly, I believe in everyone following his own bent…I don’t see the necessity of cramming and forcing oneself into that plane because one is a Negro or a Southerner. (Letter to Paul Laurence Dunbar.1895.)

Alice Ruth Moore was born in New Orleans. Upon her graduation from Straight College (Dillard University), she taught students in her home city. The appearance of her poetry (and a photograph) in a publication attracted the attention of Paul Laurence Dunbar, and a correspondence began between them which led to their marriage. Alice Dunbar Nelson was a complex figure. She made an effort through her poetry to broaden perceptions of African American literature and was well known for her work to advance the cause of African Americans, even losing her job in the pursuit of anti-lynching legislation. Yet, she was well known for passing for white in order to gain entry into cultural events in the South and her intense disdain for darker colored African Americans, especially those of lower educational status than she.   (Norton Anthology)

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