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Tribute to Dr. Alton Hornsby


Growing up in the south Alton Hornsby developed a strong love of history and southern culture. Seeing multiple forms of inequality he became particularly interested in the historical plight of African Americans in the United States.  Alton Hornsby Jr. received a Bachelors degree in History from Morehouse College in Atlanta Georgia. From there he went on to earn his M.A. and Ph.D. degree from the University of Texas in Austin. Dr. Hornsby worked as faculty in the Morehouse History Department for 42 years, 30 of which he served as department chair.  He was very active on campus and demonstrated his commitment to students and professional scholarship. He served on many University committees and also chaired the Benjamin E. Mayes Lecture committee.

Fellowships and Awards:

Dr. Hornsby spent several years in Austin. At UT Austin Dr. Hornsby held a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, a Southern Education Foundation Fellowship and a University Fellowship. The professor returned to his Morehouse College home where he became a Fuller E. Callaway Professor of History. Dr. Hornsby taught African American history until his retirement in December 2010. According to published reports, students, colleagues, friends and family celebrated his retirement for three days.  The concluding event was a commemorative brunch with stories from students and colleagues. 

Research, Professional Works:

Dr. Hornsby spent many years of his professional career as a journal editor. From 1976 to 2001 he edited the Journal of Negro History. For 25 years he enforced high journalistic standards that made the Journal of Negro History the premiere journal for Black studies researchers. in the United States. He also edited “The Papers of John and Lugenia Burns Hope” for Blackwell’s Companion to African American History and the Dictionary of Twentieth Century Black Leaders


•In 2004, he wrote the Introduction for the 17th edition of Who’s Who Among African Americans.

•In 2006 he published A Short History of Black Atlanta, 1847-1990,

•In 2007 he wrote “Southerners Too?: Essays on the Black South, 1773-1990,” for the Dictionary of Twentieth Century Black Leaders (editor-in-chief and contributor),

The Atlanta Urban League, 1920-2000 (with Alexa B. Henderson; winner of the Adele Mellon Prize for distinguished scholarship),

•A Biographical History of African Americans, (with Angela M. Hornsby)

•From the Grassroots: Profiles of Contemporary Black Leaders (with Angela M. Hornsby)

•Hornsby, Alton (2011-08-23). Black America: A State-by-State Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-313-34112-0.

•Hornsby, Alton. Black Power in Dixie: A Political History of African Americans in Atlanta (2009)

•”South Carolina”, in Black America: A State-By-State Historical Encyclopedia, Alton Hornsby, ed. (ABC-CLIO, 2011) p757

•Alton Hornsby, Southerners, too?: essays on the Black South, 1733–1990 (University Press of America, 2004) p169

•Hornsby, Jr., Alton, ed. Chronology of African American History (2nd Ed. 1997) 720pp.

•Hornsby, Jr., Alton, ed. Black America: A State-by-State Historical Encyclopedia (2 vol 2011) excerpt

Professional Associations:

•President of the Association of Social and Behavioral Scientists

•President of the Southern Conference on African American Studies.

•Executive Council – The Association of Social and Behavioral Scientists,

•Executive Council – The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)

•Executive Council  – The Southern Historical Association.

Information Source:

In this interview, Dr. Alton Hornsby, Jr. discusses his involvement in the Atlanta Student Movement. He recalls picketing businesses that would not sell to African Americans or only offered limited employment to black applicants. Hornsby describes his involvement with the march on the Georgia State Capitol in May of 1960; discusses his family background and growing up in Atlanta; and recalls his fight against segregated seating on public transportation. He ends the interview with his assessment of the leadership conflict between older and younger leaders of the Civil Rights Movement and recounts the historical context of race relations in Atlanta. Atlanta History Center Published on May 3, 2016   Catalog Number: VIS 180.016.001