Thursday 12 May 2016

Alain Leroy Locke, 1885-1954 (American writer, philosopher, educator, patron of the arts)

* Distinguished as the first African American Rhodes Scholar in 1907, Alain Leroy Locke was the philosophical architect —the acknowledged "Dean"— of the Harlem Renaissance. As a result, popular listings of influential African-Americans have repeatedly included him. On 19 March 1968, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed: "We're going to let our children know that the only philosophers that lived were not Plato and Aristotle, but W. E. B. Du Bois and Alain Locke came through the universe."

Locke was gay, and may have encouraged and supported other gay African-Americans who were part of the Harlem Renaissance. However, he was not fully public in his orientation and referred to it as his point of "vulnerable/invulnerability", taken to mean an area of risk and strength in his view.

After his retirement from Howard University in 1953, Locke moved to New York City. He suffered from heart disease, and after a six-week illness died at Mount Sinai Hospital on 9 June 1954.


BIRTH DATA: 13 September 1885, about 10:30 (10:30 AM) LMT (+5:00:39), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA (39n57, 75w09). ASC: About 17 Scorpio. RR: B (from auto/biography). SOURCE: Sy Scholfield quotes from Alain Locke: Faith and Philosophy by Christopher Buck (Kalimat, 2005), p. 12: "In the Alain Locke Papers, there is a note in Locke's handwriting that reads: 'Alain Leroy Locke--Alan registered as Arthur (white) Phila Vital Statistics owing prejudice of Quaker physician Isaac Smedley to answering question of race. [B]orn 13 So. 19th Street, Philadelphia, Pa. Sunday between 10 and 11 A.M. September 13, 1885. Called Roy as a child[,] Alain from 16 on. [illegible] First born son. 2nd brother born 1889—lived 2 months. Named Arthur first selected for me.' A city hall note by the chief clerk of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and Charities (1909?) confirms 1885 as the year of his birth."

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