Leslie Pinckney Hill was an African-American educator, writer, and community leader.
Hill was the son of a former slave, he was born in Lynchburg, Virginia where he attended primary school locally, and played the trumpet. His family moved to East Orange, New Jersey, where he attended high school. Hill excelled in his studies so much in school that he skipped his junior year, and was accepted to Harvard University his senior year.
He entered Harvard University in 1899, supplementing his scholarship by working as a waiter. There he attended the classes of William James and was active in debating. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated with Cum Laude. After graduation in 1903 he stayed another year for a masters in education.
Hill taught at Tuskegee Institute from 1904 to 1907, and was principal of the Manassas Industrial Institute from 1907 to 1913. In 1913 he became principal at the Cheyney, Philadelphia Institute for Colored Youth, overseeing changes in name and status and staying there until 1951 and its establishment as Cheyney State Teachers College.
In 1928, Hill published a play about Toussaint L’Ouverture. In 1944, he founded Camp Hope, a camp for underprivileged children in Delaware County. Hill was a part of the Harlem Renaissance. He died from a stroke in 1960.
by Leslie Pinckney Hill
Lord, who am I to teach the way
To little children day by day,
So prone myself to go astray?
I teach them KNOWLEDGE, but I know
How faint they flicker and how low
The candles of my knowledge glow.
I teach them POWER to will and do,
But only now to learn anew
My own great weakness through and through.
I teach them LOVE for all mankind
And all God’s creatures, but I find
My love comes lagging far behind.
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