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*James Corrothers was born on this date in 1869. He was a Black poet, journalist, and minister.
James David Corrothers was born in Michigan and grew up in a small town of anti-slavery activists who settled before the American Civil War. His parents were James Richard Carruthers (spelling later changed by Corrothers), a black soldier in the Union army, and Maggie Churchman, of French and Madagascan descent, who died when Corrothers was born.
He attended Northwestern University in Chicago but left to work as a newspaper reporter. He met Frederick Douglass at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition. Corrothers gained early fame with his volume of poetry in "Negro dialect" but later expressed his regret about the volume. Corrothers thought that poetry in "standard English" was more appropriate for the twentieth century.
Corrothers shared a long friendship with Paul Laurence Dunbar and, after Dunbar's death, memorialized him with the poem "Paul Laurence Dunbar," published in Century Magazine (1912). In his autobiography, In Spite of the Handicap, Corrothers claimed credit for bringing the work of Dunbar, to the attention of William Dean Howells. James Corrothers, who Thomas Fortune called "the coming poet of the race" died on February 12, 1917. When he died, W. E. B. Du Bois eulogized as "a serious loss to the race and to literature."
After his passing, James Weldon Johnson published seven poems by Corrothers in the anthology The Book of American Negro Poetry (1922).