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John Hope
Born June 2, 1868(1868-06-02)
Augusta, Georgia
Died February 20, 1936 (aged 67)
Atlanta, Georgia

John Hope (June 2, 1868 – February 20, 1936), born in Augusta, Georgia, was an African-American educator and political activist. He was the son of James Hope, a white Scottish immigrant father, who was a wealthy businessman, and Mary Frances Butts, a free black woman born in Hancock County, Georgia.[1] Interracial marriage was prohibited but they lived together as man and wife. After James Hope died in 1876, his executors failed to carry out his plans to provide for his family financially. John Hope maintained his position in the black elite because of his mother's family's status of having been free before the Civil War.[2] Hope could have passed for white, but he was proud of his black heritage and identified with the black community.

Hope graduated from Worcester Academy in 1890 and then from Brown University in 1894. He went on to teach at Roger Williams University (Nashville, Tennessee). On December 29, 1897 he married the former Lugenia D. Burns[3], who would become a well-known social reformer. In 1898, he became professor of Classics at Atlanta Baptist College, (now Morehouse College), a historically black college. In 1906 he was appointed the institution's first black president.[4]

Hope joined W. E. B. Du Bois and William Monroe Trotter as founders of the Niagara Movement. He was also active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and was considered a race leader.

Hope served as a YMCA secretary with black soldiers in France from 1918 until 1919. He organized the southern-based Commission on Interracial Cooperation, of which he became the first president.

In 1928, Morehouse and Spelman College became affiliated with Atlanta University, also a historically black college. In 1929 Hope was unanimously chosen to be president of the institution, the first black to be selected. He held the position of president until his death in 1936. At Atlanta University, Hope concentrated on building the program for graduate studies to ensure high achieving black scholars a place.[5]

In 1932, Hope received an LL.D. from Bates College.

Hope was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans. He was the Convention Speaker for the fraternity's Silver Anniversary convention in Nashville, Tennessee.[6]

Hope's great-great-granddaughter Leah Hope is a GA reporter for WLS-TV in Chicago.


  1. ^ "John Hope", New Georgia Encyclopedia, accessed 30 May 2009
  2. ^ "John Hope", New Georgia Encyclopedia, accessed 30 May 2009
  3. ^ Yenser, Thomas (editor and publisher) (1933). Who's Who in Colored America (3rd Edition). Brooklyn, New York: Who's Who in Colored America. p. 218.  
  4. ^ "John Hope", New Georgia Encyclopedia, accessed 30 May 2009
  5. ^ "John Hope", New Georgia Encyclopedia, accessed 30 May 2009
  6. ^ Wesley, Dr. Charles H. (1981) [1928]. "The Widening Social Program". The History of Alpha Phi Alpha, A Development in College Life. Foundation. p. 224. ASIN: B000ESQ14W.  

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