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Eugenie P. Almeida

elocutionist, journalist, and civic leader, was born in Chicago to the Reverend Byrd Parker, pastor of the Quinn African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, and Jane Janette Thomas. Her mother was one of the first black teachers in the Indianapolis public school system; she and Lillian's younger brother Charles T. Thomas died of tuberculosis in 1894.

In her youth Lillian worked at various jobs, including as a stenographer in Louisville, Kentucky. She moved to Indianapolis in 1886 and studied with Madame Hattie Prunk at the Indiana-Boston School of Elocution and at the Indianapolis Institute for Young Ladies. It was during this time that she developed her skills in dramatic reading and dialect. In 1888 she supported herself as a seamstress in her home. In 1891 she was one of the first Indianapolis blacks to take the civil service exam for a clerkship.

Also in 1891 ...