Alice Dunbar Nelson born on July 19, 1875 was an poet, journalist, political activist and she was among the prominent blacks involved in the artistic flourishing of the Harlem Renaissance. She achieved prominence as a poet, author of short stories and dramas, newspaper columnist, and editor of two anthologies.
Her first book, Violets and Other Tales (1895), was published when she was just 20. Her second collection, The Goodness of St. Rocque and Other Stories (1899) explored the lives of creole and anglicized characters. Works exploring racism and racial oppression were largely rejected by publishers during her lifetime.
One of the few female African American diarists of the early 20th century, she portrays the complicated reality of black women and intellectuals, addressing topics such as racism, oppression, family, work, and sexuality.
In 1898 she married the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar; they separated in 1902, and Dunbar-Nelson moved to Wilmington, Delaware. She taught at Howard High School, the State College for Colored Students (now Delaware State College), and Howard University, and she continued to publish essays, poetry, and newspaper articles. She married Arthur Callis in 1910, though the couple also divorced. Coeditor of A.M.E Reivew in these years, Dunbar-Nelson also published Masterpieces of Negro Eloquence (1914).
Dunbar-Nelson was politically active, organizing for the women’s suffrage movement in the mid-Atlantic states and acting as field representative for the Woman’s Committee of the Council of Defense in 1918; she also campaigned for the passage of the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill of 1924. In 1916 she married Robert J. Nelson. In her later years she published poetry in Black newspapers such as the Crisis, Ebony and Topaz, and Opportunity. She also edited The Dunbar Speaker and Entertainer (1920) and, with Nelson, coedited the Wilmington Advocate. She died in Philadelphia on September 18, 1935.