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Alice Dunbar Nelson (1873-1935)

Poet, Educator, Activist and DSC Professor/Administrator

alice dunbar wilson

Alice Dunbar Nelson is an important Delaware State University connection to Delaware African American Women and Voting.

As the country is celebrating the August 18, 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote, little ol’ Delaware had an African American woman living within its borders that used the power of the vote to punish a sitting United States senator by handily defeating him at the polls. That African American woman was Alice Dunbar-Nelson, an English and Drama teacher from Wilmington’s Howard High School. More interestingly, Alice Dunbar-Nelson was also, for several years, a teacher   and    administrator of summer classes  for  the  State College for Colored Students, now known as Delaware State University.

The senator she defeated, by enlisting a voter advantage of more than 12,000 new voters throughout the state, was Dr. Caleb R. Layton, a Republican from Georgetown, Delaware. The bill that brought about his stunning defeat was the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill which he voted against. An interesting note: Alice Dunbar-Nelson was a staunch Republican who turned Democrat because of the senator’s vote.

Submitted by: The Honorable Dr. Donald Blakey ‘58

For Information about Alice Dunbar Nelson, check out these links below.