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Wed, 07.04.1900

Lewis Alexander, Writer born

Lewis G. Alexander

*Lewis Alexander was born on this date in 1900. He was a Black writer and actor.

From Washington, D.C., he was educated in the public schools of Washington and at Howard University. Lewis Grandison Alexander began writing poetry at the age of 17, specializing in Japanese forms, the hokku, and the tanka. During his matriculation at Howard University, Alexander was a member of the Howard Players under the direction of Mrs. Marie Moore Forrest.

Alexander also studied at the University of Pennsylvania. Alexander was a member of the Play writers Circle of Washington, D. C.; he directed pageants and was director of the Randall Community Center Players and The Ira Aldridge Players of the Grover Cleveland Centre. He studied with the Ethiopian Art Theatre. Alexander was a member of the Ethiopian Art Theatre during the 1922-23 seasons and appeared in Salome and The Comedy of Errors on Broadway.

His works were published in several magazines of the day, including Messenger and Opportunity, as well as a special number of Palms, a poetry journal from Guadalajara, Mexico. After leaving Washington, Alexander became actively involved with the young Black literary circle in each city where he lived. In Philadelphia, his poetry was accepted along with other young writers who were being published in the “Black Opals” literary magazine. In Boston, his work appeared in the Quill Club of Boston’s “Saturday Evening Quill.” Students and faculty at the University of North Carolina exhibited a strong interest in Black literature by devoting three special students' literary journals Carolina Magazine to black writers. This literary magazine, founded in 1844, was the official literary publication of the University of North Carolina students.

In May 1927, the students published a “Negro Number” in The Carolina Magazine, where Alexander served as an honorary editor. The editors acknowledged that Alexander was indispensable in assembling the material.  In addition to Alexander’s “The Dark Brother,” the poetry section of this special issue included Langston Hughes, Waring Cuney, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Angelina W. Grimké, and Carrie W. Clifford. For the following two years, The Carolina Magazine published a “Negro Poetry Number” in May 1928 and a “Negro Play Number” in April 1929.

The “Negro Poetry Number” was dedicated to Lewis Alexander. D. S. Gardner, editor of the “Negro Poetry Number,” states, “This issue is dedicated to the man who made it possible. It was he who, over a period of months, gave of his time unstintingly in the assembling of the material in it. ... In appreciation of his friendship and service, we dedicate this issue to that talented poet and maker of fair lyrics, Lewis Alexander.” (The Carolina Magazine, 1928, p. 4) Alexander was involved in the process of each of these issues. Although the editors changed each year, they received material for each special issue from Alexander.

In gathering work for the special issues, Alexander relied on the prizewinning literature from the Crisis and Opportunity literary contests.  Alexander was an active participant among the new young writers of the period.  He was one of the poets featured in the single issue of Fire! A quarterly devoted to the younger Negro artists. The mission of the magazine was to burn up a lot of the old, dead conventional Negro-white ideas of the past. One of the two poems contributed by Alexander to that single issue of Fire!!, “Little Cinderella.”

After participating in the theater while attending Howard University, Alexander joined the play writers' circle of Washington D.C. There; he directed all the plays at the Randall Community Center in Washington and all the plays put on by the Ira Aldridge Players.  He studied and toured with The Ethiopian Art Theatre/Players. During their 1923 tour, in which they opened for Broadway, Alexander appeared in Oscar Wilde's Salome and Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors.  Lewis Alexander, a Harlem Renaissance contributor, died on November 25, 1945.

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