Born in the 1880s in Jefferson, Texas, Lillian B. Jones Horace grew up in Fort Worth and dreamed of being a college-educated teacher, a goal she achieved. But life was hard for her and other blacks living and working in the Jim Crow South. Her struggles convinced her that education, particularly that involving the printed word, was the key to black liberation.
In 1916, before Marcus Garvey gained fame for advocating black economic empowerment and a repatriation movement, Horace wrote a back-to-Africa novel, Five Generations Hence, the earliest published novel on record by a black woman from Texas and the earliest known utopian novel by any African American woman. She also wrote a biography of Lacey Kirk Williams, a renowned president of the National Baptist Convention; another novel, Angie Brown, that was never published; and a host of plays that her students at I. M. Terrell High School performed. Five Generations Hence languished after its initial publication. Along with Horace’s diary, the unpublished novel, and the Williams biography, the book was consigned to a collection owned by the Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society and housed at the Fort Worth Public Library. There, scholar and author Karen Kossie-Chernyshev rediscovered Horace’s work in the course of her efforts to track down and document a literary tradition that has been largely ignored by both the scholarly community and general readers. In this book, the full text of Horace’s Five Generations Hence, annotated and contextualized by Kossie-Chernyshev, is once again presented for examination by scholars and interested readers.In 2009 Kossie-Chernyshev invited nine scholars to a conference at Texas Southern University to give Horace’s works a comprehensive interdisciplinary examination. Subsequent work on those papers resulted in the studies that form the second half of this book.
KAREN KOSSIE-CHERNYSHEV is a professor of history at Texas Southern University. She holds a PhD from Rice University.