Recovering Five Generations Hence: The Life and Writing of Lillian Jones Horace

Recovering Five Generations Hence: The Life and Writing of Lillian Jones Horace

Recovering Five Generations Hence: The Life and Writing of Lillian Jones Horace

Recovering Five Generations Hence: The Life and Writing of Lillian Jones Horace

Synopsis

Born in the 1880s in Jefferson, Texas, Lillian B. Jones Horace grew up in Fort Worth and dreamed of being a college-educated teacher, a goal she achieved. But life was hard for her and other blacks living and working in the Jim Crow South. Her struggles convinced her that education, particularly that involving the printed word, was the key to black liberation.
In 1916, before Marcus Garvey gained fame for advocating black economic empowerment and a repatriation movement, Horace wrote a back-to-Africa novel, Five Generations Hence, the earliest published novel on record by a black woman from Texas and the earliest known utopian novel by any African American woman. She also wrote a biography of Lacey Kirk Williams, a renowned president of the National Baptist Convention; another novel, Angie Brown, that was never published; and a host of plays that her students at I. M. Terrell High School performed. Five Generations Hence languished after its initial publication. Along with Horace's diary, the unpublished novel, and the Williams biography, the book was consigned to a collection owned by the Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society and housed at the Fort Worth Public Library. There, scholar and author Karen Kossie-Chernyshev rediscovered Horace's work in the course of her efforts to track down and document a literary tradition that has been largely ignored by both the scholarly community and general readers. In this book, the full text of Horace's Five Generations Hence, annotated and contextualized by Kossie-Chernyshev, is once again presented for examination by scholars and interested readers.In 2009 Kossie-Chernyshev invited nine scholars to a conference at Texas Southern University to give Horace's works a comprehensive interdisciplinary examination. Subsequent work on those papers resulted in the studies that form the second half of this book.

Excerpt

Karen Kossie-Chernyshev

Recovery projects are simultaneously fascinating and inspiring. They affirm established bodies of knowledge and their affiliated associations, communities, and institutions. They demand a reevaluation of discourses and a restructuring of paradigms. Or they inspire, by their radical nature and sudden appearance, a new phase of creativity and related exploratory acts. the Lillian B. Horace Papers accomplish all three. in provenance, content, and form, they affirm the diverse and now weighty body of creative work labeled “African American Literature” and include the following artifacts: Horace’s diary, transcribed by Tom Kellam; her first novel, Five Generations Hence (1916), a back-to-Africa work that predates the Marcus Garvey movement of the 1920s and is both the earliest novel on record by a black woman from Texas and the earliest utopian novel by a black woman before 1950; Angie Brown, Horace’s unpublished second novel, which highlights the universality of women’s experiences and their need for economic fulfillment; her definitive biography of Lacey Kirk Williams, president of the National Baptist Convention in the early 1920s, who helped revolutionize the way black churches operated in Chicago during the Great Migration; and photographs, letters, telegrams, and memorabilia.

The collection in all its breadth and scope expands the canon of works by African American women of the early twentieth century and invites readers to revisit the relationships among black southern women, intellectual production, and probable sites for creativity, affirmation, and dissemination. My 2003 encounter with the Lillian B. Horace Papers, owned by the Tarrant County Black Genealogical and Historical Society and housed at the Fort Worth Public Library, and the papers’ formal introduction into the historical and literary canon through this volume, highlight the importance of our being ready for the historical surprises that will continue to emerge as we dig deeper into the past.

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