Jean Marie Lutes
Alice Ruth Moore Dunbar-Nelson was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1875, the daughter of a seamstress and a merchant marine. She grew up and attended public high school in New Orleans and soon became an active member of the Creole society she would use as a backdrop for much of her fiction. Of mixed black, white and Native American ancestry, she could pass as white, but she identified herself as a person of color and an advocate for African-American rights. In 1892, after graduating from a two-year teachers' program at Straight College (now Dillard University), Dunbar-Nelson took her first job as a teacher, launching a career that would often sustain her financially when her literary efforts failed to do so.
After leaving New Orleans in 1896 in search of new opportunities in the North, she lived in New York and Washington, D.C., eventually settling in Wilmington, Delaware, where she taught in a local high school for nearly twenty years. Teaching was just one of Dunbar-Nelson's many occupational titles, however; at various times, she worked as a stenographer, campaign manager, social worker, and platform lecturer. In her late thirties she began her journalistic career in earnest, writing articles and essays and working as an editor. An antilynching crusader and an ardent suffragist, she was also an organizer and lecturer in the black women's club movement. She remained politically active even when doing so impinged on her job security. In 1920, the principal of the Delaware high school where she taught locked her out of her classroom and terminated her position because of her work for the Republican Party. For the next two years, she coedited and published the Wilmington Advocate newspaper. She also