Black On Campus
Higher Education and the African American Experience

The Quotable Black Scholar: Green Polonius Hamilton

October 9th, 2008 by Ajuan Mance


No people can be sure of impartial history if the narrators of their history are members of a different race, with views and traditions that are diametrically opposite and often inimical to the interests and welfare of those whose history they are to write. Impartial history can be written only by unprejudiced minds, for even the scales of justice tremble in the presence of bias and unnecessary hatred.

–from Beacon Lights of the Race (1911)


Biographical notes: Green Polonius Hamilton was born in 1867, in Memphis, Tennessee. He graduated from Lemoyne Normal Institute (now Lemoyne-Owen College) in 1882. He completed his education at Rust College in Mississippi and Columbia University in New York. He was married to Alice Richmond, a Memphis schoolteacher. The couple did not have children.

In 1884 Hamilton began teaching in the Memphis public school system. In 1892 he became principal of Kotrecht High School, the first African American high school in the city. By the early 20th century, he had organized the first Black high school band at Kotrecht. Eventually he would become the principal of Booker T. Washington High School, Kotrecht’s successor.

Known as “Professor” Hamilton by his students and colleagues, he was the author of two books, The Bright Side of Memphis (1908) and Beacon Lights of the Race (1911). The Memphis City Schools website describes Hamilton as a nationally noted educator, poet, and musician who, “taught and influenced thousands of students in his long career.”Green Polonius Hamilton died in 1934.

Posted by Ajuan Mance


Posted in African Americans, Black Colleges, Black History, Green P Hamilton, Higher Education, Memphis, race, Tennessee

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