Hope, Lugenia Burns

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Hope, Lugenia Burns

February 19, 1871
August 14, 1947

Reformer Lugenia Burns Hope was one of the key members of a group of southern African-American activists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Burns came from a line of free black Mississippians on both sides. She grew up in Chicago and was educated in the public schools. She also studied art at the Chicago School of Design and the Chicago Art Institute. As a young woman Burns bore the responsibility of supporting her family when her siblings were out of work. It was during this period that she became involved in reform work as a paid worker. She also became acquainted with the pioneering settlement work of Chicago's Hull House.

In 1897 Lugenia Burns married John Hope, a college professor. Within a year John Hope accepted a teaching position at his alma mater, Atlanta Baptist College (later Morehouse College). In Atlanta Hope blossomed as an activist, focusing on the needs of black children in the city. Her concern with children's issues became sharpened through the birth of the Hopes' two children, Edward and John.

In 1908 Hope was a driving force in the founding of the Neighborhood Union, with which she remained active until 1935. She was active in the work of the YWCA in the South and was a vocal opponent of the segregationist policies of the organization in this period. She was also a prominent member of the National Association of Colored Women, the National Council of Negro Women, and the International Council of Women of the Darker Races.

After her husband's death in 1936, Hope moved to New York City, where she continued to be involved in reform organizations. During this period she worked as an assistant to Mary McLeod Bethune, then with the National Youth Administration. Hope was not able to continue with her demanding schedule through the 1940s as her health began to fail. Lugenia Burns Hope, dedicated activist for equality, died in 1947 after a long and influential career.

See also Bethune, Mary McLeod; Hope, John; Morehouse College; National Association of Colored Women; National Council of Negro Women


Hine, Darlene Clark, and Thompson, Kathleen. A Shining Thread of Hope. New York: Broadway Books, 1999.

Rouse, Jacqueline A. Lugenia Burns Hope: A Black Southern Reformer. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1989.

judith weisenfeld (1996)
Updated bibliography