June 22 - An Ohioan Overseas

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On June 22, 1897, Paul Laurence Dunbar in London mentioned Hallie Quinn Brown in a letter to his mother Matilda in Chicago.  The daughter of parents who were formerly enslaved, Brown was an educator, author and advocate for the rights of Black women.  She graduated from Wilberforce University in Ohio and had been a school teacher in Dayton during Paul's boyhood.

I am very well at present and getting along as well as could be expected with Miss Pond doing nothing.  She does not even pay my board or I could have sent you some money last week.  Dr. and Mrs. Crummell wish to be kindly remembered as does also Miss Hallie Brown.  Miss Brown wants me to double up in work with her and go out into the provinces, and if I can get away from this she-devil I may do it.

Paul Laurence Dunbar to Matilda Dunbar, June 22, 1897.  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 1).

Paul was in England for a recital tour and to find an English publisher for his book Lyrics of Lowly Life, but was experiencing severe conflicts with his manager, Edith Pond.  Brown was on an extended visit to Europe and came to England for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

From a private letter and programs we find Miss Hallie Q. Brown, the representative of Wilberforce University, grandly and successfully lecturing, reciting and singing her way through Europe.  She is now the guest of the Darling's Regent Hotel, filling her engagements in Edinburg.  We congratulate Wilberforce for its fine and capable representative.  Would that all our colleges were blessed with a Hallie Q. Brown.

Xenia Daily Gazette (Xenia, Ohio).  March 24, 1897.  Page 6.

In 1893, both Paul and Brown recited during Colored American Day at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

World's Fair, Chicago - The colored men and women of this metropolis turned out in force and in their best attire.  They had an interesting program to observe at festival hall, where their best orators made speeches, the address by Frederick Douglass on the "Race Problem in America" being masterly in logic and eloquent in tone.  Miss Hallie Brown, an elocutionist of note among her people, read patriotic selections.

"Black Friday."  Public Ledger (Maysville, Kentucky).  August 26, 1893.  Page 3.

In 1905, Paul appeared at another event alongside Brown, who was active in women's clubs on a regional and national level.  

Dayton, O. - The fifth annual session of the Ohio Federation of Afro-American Women's clubs was held here last week.  The 42 club members of the federation were represented by over 100 delegates.  Among those introduced to the federation was the poet, Paul Laurence Dunbar, who spoke briefly in praise of women and their work.  The most notable addresses of the meeting were those of Mrs. Mary Church Terrell, of Washington D. C.;  Miss Hallie Q. Brown, of Wilberforce;  and Mrs. Sarah G. Jones, of Cincinnati.

"Dunbar Speaks!  Our Women's Federation of Clubs and Mite Missionary Society Annual Meets."  The Cleveland Gazette (Cleveland, Ohio).  July 22, 1905.  Page 1.

In 1926, Brown wrote a book about exceptional Black women, and it included an essay about Matilda Dunbar, describing how she maintained her home as a shrine to Paul, who died 20 years earlier.

Mrs. Dunbar resides in the Dayton home from which her poet son fell into "that last dear sleep whose soft embrace is balm."  That comfortable, commodious home, shaded by magnificent elms, where he fought his losing fight, watched over and tenderly cared for by the devoted mother during the weary months and years of her son's illness.  At the open door she greets the visitors with a smile.  They come to talk of Paul -- her one great theme -- then she conducts them to his sanctum sanctorum -- "Well, his den," she says -- he named it "Loafing-holt" -- the walls lined with book shelves filled with his own works and choice bits from noted authors -- photographs of eminent men and women of both races and dainty bits of bric-a-brac.  Here is his desk with pens and ink wells, his caps and boots -- his couches piled high with gay sofa pillows, inviting one to "loaf" -- a violin made by Captain Stivers of Steele high school -- all cherished by this loving mother who delights to show them, these silent remembrances of a dear departed one.

Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction, by Hallie Q. Brown.  The Aldine Publishing Company (Xenia, Ohio).  1926.  Pages 158 - 159.