Every February, America celebrates the amazing African-American writers, artists, economists, philosophers, scholars and progressive thinkers that helped transform the state of race relations in the US. For our February Black History profile, we wanted to share more information with our members about one of the faces of Equal Dollars, Alain LeRoy Locke.
A Philadelphia native born in 1885, Locke attended Central High School and went on to earn degrees in English and Philosophy from Harvard University. Upon his graduation, Locke became the first African-American to receive the Rhodes Scholarship, which is widely considered the most prestigious scholarship in the world. Locke went on to become a professor of English at Howard University and was eventually named the chair of the University’s philosophy department.
During his long career, Locke wrote extensively about the state of African-American life at the time and his works became widely influential among progressive circles. His essays, such as “The New Negro,” encouraged Black citizens to depict African-American life in their art and literature and to refuse to comply with the unreasonable expectations placed upon them by White society. Locke’s philosophical ideals are widely credited as the basis for the Harlem Renaissance, one of the most important movements for Black art and culture in the early 20th Century.
Today, we honor Locke’s legacy by featuring his face on each denomination of our Equal Dollars currency. This small gesture serves as a reminder and affirmation that the ideals of equality, justice, and human rights are still alive and well today.
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