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Johnanna L. Grimes-Williams

Theophilus Lewis was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1891, attended public schools, and moved to New York City. He became a manual laborer and later a postal worker, a position that he retained until his retirement. It provided his livelihood during the Harlem Renaissance when he wrote the theater reviews in the Messenger, since he received no remuneration for his writing.

Lewis's theater columns, which appeared from 1923 to 1927, chronicled primarily African American stage productions presented in different venues from Harlem to Broadway at a critical stage in African American history. They also championed development of an African American little theater movement. In referring to such groups as the Ethiopian Art Theater, the Tri-Arts Club, the Krigwa Players (founded by W. E. B. Du Bois and the Aldridge Players Lewis reveals his understanding of their importance to the evolution of African American theater and drama ...


Betty Kaplan Gubert

Walton, Lester A. (20 April 1882–16 October 1965), diplomat, journalist, civil rights activist, and theater producer, was born Lester Aglar Walton in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Benjamin A. Walton, Sr., and Olive May Camphor Walton. After graduation from Sumner High School, Walton began his career as a journalist at the Globe-Democrat. He worked as a court reporter, covered general stories, and wrote a column on golf for the St. Louis Star Sayings, later the St. Louis Star-Time, from 1902 to 1906. Walton was thus the first African American to write for a white daily, and he was an active member of the St. Louis Press Club. For a time he also wrote for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, under Herbert Bayard Swope.

During these years Walton and Ernest Hogan a well known entertainer were copyrighting the words and music respectively ...


Charles Rosenberg

was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the oldest child of Benjamin A. Walton, a waiter and then a public school custodian, and Olive May Camper Walton, a schoolteacher. His father had been born in Arkansas to parents from Tennessee, and his mother, like her parents, was from Illinois, so was most likely born free in 1857. Walton recounted that his mother’s family traced their origins to Madagascar. Although some sources give his birth year as 1882, he appears in the 1880 census as a one year old. Four siblings followed: Nancy, Benjamin, Julia, and Lucille. He was raised in St. James African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.

In the late 1890s Walton graduated from Sumner High School in St Louis the first high school built west of the Mississippi to open this level of education to Americans of African descent when most public schools were segregated by race Soon ...