This weekend, 60 years after his death, Locke is finally being given a permanent resting place in Capitol Hill’s Congressional Cemetery, where a polished-granite gravestone will sit across from the sandstone cenotaphs honoring early members of Congress and adjacent to the first director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, Warren Robbins.
Alain Locke is known as the “father of the Harlem Renaissance” and as an important, if too often neglected, figure in American pragmatism. He was chairman of philosophy at Howard University and the first African American Rhodes scholar. He was also gay, black, and short, and as a result faced numerous professional obstacles. In a 1949 note he writes, “Had I been born in ancient Greece I would have escaped the first [homophobia]; in Europe I would have been spared the second [U.S. racial segregation policies]; in Japan I would have been above rather than below average [height].” The story is in The Washington Post Magazine.