"This definitive look at a remarkable figure delivers the goods." - Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A brilliant analysis." - Jericho Brown, Pulitzer Prize winner
Born in New Orleans in 1875 to a mother who was formerly enslaved and a father of questionable identity, Alice Dunbar-Nelson was a pioneering activist, writer, suffragist, and educator. Until now, Dunbar-Nelson has largely been viewed only in relation to her abusive ex-husband, the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. This is the first book-length look at this major figure in Black women’s history, covering her life from the post-reconstruction era through the Harlem Renaissance and the love she had for her race, of men and women, and, finally, of herself.
Tara T. Green builds on Black feminist, sexuality, historical and cultural studies to create a literary biography that examines Dunbar-Nelson's life and legacy as a respectable activist – a woman who navigated complex challenges associated with resisting racism and sexism, and who defined her sexual identity and sexual agency within the confines of respectability politics. It’s a book about the past, but it’s also a book about the present that nods to the future.
****Please note this is an uncorrected proof.****
A Note From the Publisher
“Tara Green proves herself the scholar born to make the sojourn through archives of every kind to bring us Love, Activism, and the Respectable Life of Alice Dunbar-Nelson. This book is superb in its ability to show through the example of a secretly queer and always revolutionary Dunbar-Nelson how Black people continue to subvert the very systems in which we participate for the sake of or survival. Thanks to Professor Green, we can finally see full-fledged that Harlem Renaissance figure whose name too many of us know better than we know her work. This is a brilliant analysis." - Jericho Brown, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning collection The Tradition
“In this meticulously researched and brilliantly crafted study, Tara T. Green constructs a portrait of Alice Dunbar-Nelson that lifts her from the shadows and resituates her in a space where her talents as a writer, organizer, editor, and activist are consistently foregrounded ... Love, Activism, and the Respectable Life of Alice Dunbar-Nelson emphasizes how one Black woman’s political agency was contingent on her ability to define whom she could love and how.” - Herman Beavers, University of Pennsylvania, USA