African American Poetry (1870-1926): A Digital Anthology

Leslie Pinckney Hill (Author Page)

Leslie Pinckney Hill (1880-1960) was primarily known as an important educator more than as a poet. Born the children of enslaved people, he attended Harvard (1899-1904), where he did both B.A. and M.Ed. degrees. He taught at the Tuskegee Institute and at the Manassas Industrial Insitute before settling down as the principal of Cheyney State Teachers College (today Cheyney University), the oldest HBCU in the U.S.; Hill continued to serve there as an administrator and teacher until 1951.  

Hill published poems in The Crisis throughout the 1910s and 20s, and had several poems included in James Weldon Johnson's Book of American Negro Poetry (see the selection below). Alongside poems of social engagement and protest ("So Quietly"), Hill is among a substantial community of Black writers from this period deeply invested in religious themes

Of particular note is Hill long poem, "Armageddon," originally published in The Crisis in 1915, an epic, anguished response to the advent of World War I from the point of view of the African American community -- which continued to suffer the effects of racialized violence and institutionalized discrimination even as it was being asked to contribute to the war effort in the name of patriotism. 

 

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