Ohioana Literary Trail: Hallie Quinn Brown, ‘one of the greatest elocutionists’

Part 3 of a 5-part series on remarkable Ohio writers

As we continue our tour of local stops on the Ohioana Literary Trail, it’s only fitting to pause a moment to share that a book to the complete trail, “The Ohio Literary Trail: A Guide,” will be out on May 10, published by Arcadia Publishing.

The book is by Betty Weibel, who has had a career in journalism and public relations, and who volunteers as a board member for the Ohioana Library Association and Ohio History Connection. Weibel is one of the trail’s creators. As the publisher’s website describes the book, “Following the state’s five geographic regions for convenient self-guided tours, curious explorers can walk in the footsteps of Harriet Beecher Stowe and poet Paul Laurence Dunbar … this guide offers something unique for the armchair traveler and the road warrior alike.”

Weibel, along with Ohioana Library director David Weaver, will make several appearances in the Dayton area to discuss the trail; check “Upcoming Literary Events” for details.

Learn more about the book at www.arcadiapublishing.com (search for “Ohio Literary Trail”).

The next stop for us in the Dayton area is at the marker for Hallie Quinn Brown, a Wilberforce University graduate in 1873, who was the author of books and speeches, and was a founder of the National Association of Colored Women, for which she also served as president from 1920-1924.

Her marker is located at Central State University, on Maplewood Avenue, in Wilberforce, on the south side of the Hallie Quinn Brown Library. Sponsors of her marker are the Ohio Bicentennial Commission, Cinergy Foundation and Ohio History Connection.

Born in Pittsburgh in 1850 to former slaves, Brown moved with her family to Wilberforce in 1870 where she earned her Bachelor of Science from Wilberforce University in 1873. She taught in public and plantation schools in Mississippi and South Carolina, taught in public school in Dayton, served as a principal of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama under Booker T. Washington, and became a professor of elocution at Wilberforce in 1893.

According to Britannica.com, she pioneered African American women’s clubs in the United States. She also toured Europe and Great Britain extensively in 1894-1899 to give lectures on African American life in the United States, appearing twice before Queen Victoria.

Her books were “Bits and Odds: A Choice Selection of Recitations” (1880), “First Lessons in Public Speaking” (1920), and “Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction” (1926).

According to an entry about her on the National Park Service website, “There are people who give great speeches, and there are those who perform them. Hallie Quinn Brown was one of the few who performed speeches. In her era, she was recognizes as one of the greatest elocutionists across two continents, Europe and America. Though she rarely appears in history books, Brown’s legacy can be found in today’s speech-language pathologists and spoken word artists.”

Upcoming Literary Events:

· Wednesday, May 12, 6:30-8 p.m. — Word’s Worth Writing Center offers a “Writing Workout at Home” (via Zoom) presented by novelist, editor and writing instructor Christina Consolino. Visit the website at www.wordsworthdayton.com for more information and to register.

· Wednesday, May 19, 7-8:30 p.m. — Washington-Centerville Library offers a free, online program on “The Ohioana Literary Trail,” featuring Ohioana Library Association Director David Weaver and Betty Weibel, author of “The Ohio Literary Trail: a guide,” exploring the states five geographic regions with literary sites paying tribute to authors, poets, and other literary luminaries of the state. Registration is required. Visit www.wclibrary.info and click on “Programs,” then “Authors & Writers,” and scroll down to the program description and link for more details and to register.

· Thursday, May 20, 7 p.m. — Dayton Literary Peace Prize presents its next “Turn the Page” online event, featuring a conversation between Patricia Engel, the 2017 Fiction Winner and author for “The Veins of the Ocean” and Edwidge Danticat, the 2008 Nonfiction Winner for “Brother, I’m Dying.” The topic of the discussion, moderated by Gilbert King, 2013 Nonfiction Runner-up, is “Human Rights-Human Wrongs: Writing about Immigration.” Learn more at www.daytonliterarypeaceprize.org.

Sharon Short writes historical mysteries under the pen name Jess Montgomery (www.jessmontgomeryauthor.com). Send her column ideas, book club news, or literary events at sharonshort1983@gmail.com.

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