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Fri, 08.18.1899

Frank Horne, Poet and Optometrist born

Frank Smith Horne

*Frank Horne was born on this date in 1899. He was a Black optometrist, administrator and poet.

From Brooklyn, New York, Frank Smith Horn was the son of Edwin Fletcher and Cora Catherine (Calhoun) Horne.  He was raised a Catholic; his mother had studied at Atlanta University in Georgia and he attended Boys High School.   His brother became a soldier, his later writings hint at his background. Horne began writing poetry while attending the College of the City of New York, where he lettered in track and graduated in 1921.  A year later he attended Northern Illinois College of Optometry.

In 1930 he married Frankye Priestly who died 1940.  In 1932 he finished his degree at the University of Southern California.  Dr. Horne practiced optometry in New York and Chicago from 1922-1926. During his time in Washington, Dr. Horne was a constant participant in President Roosevelt’s  Black Cabinet, a group convened and directed by Mary McLeod Bethune. The Black Cabinet provided a forum where problems could be discussed and potential solutions developed and directed to the administration.

Dr. Horne’s prize winning poetry was published in periodicals including Crisis and Opportunity and are anthologized in Caroling Dusk: An Anthology of Verse by Negro Poets, edited by Countee Cullen and published by Harper in 1927 and in The Poetry of the Negro, 1746-1949, edited by Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps and published by Doubleday in 1949. "Letters Found Near a Suicide," perhaps his most well known work, received second prize in the Poems category in the Amy Spingarn Contest in 1925.

He then began teaching and later became dean and acting president of the Fort Valley Normal and Industrial School (later Fort Valley State College)  between 1926 and 1936.  During this time his niece Lena Horne lived with him.  He went to work at the National Youth Administration in Washington, D.C. from 1936-38.

He worked in various administrative capacities for agencies of the U.S. Housing Authority, including the Housing and Home Finance Agency and the Office of Race Relations in Washington, D.C., and in New York City from 1938-1955.  He married Mercedes Christopher Rector in 1950 and remained in New York working for the New York City Commission on Inter-Group Relations and for the New York City Housing Redevelopment Board.

Dr. Frank Horne, recognized for his significant contribution of poetry published during the Harlem Renaissance, died on September 7, 1974, in New York, NY.

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