Poston’s short stories grew from regaling friends of life in Hopkinsville

The collection features fictionalized accounts of Poston's childhood, growing up in the 1910s in segregated Hopkinsville. The author and his buddies play the heroes, often outwitting the white community, but also their black elders.

Hopkinsville native Ted Poston — who was known as the Dean of Black Journalists in America for his remarkable newspaper career — wrote 10 short stories about his childhood friends and life in Hopkinsville for African American boys and girls during the 1910s.

The collection was published in 1991, nearly two decades after Poston’s death. 

After graduating from Attucks High School in 1924, and Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State College in 1928, Poston moved to New York City. There, during the Harlem Renaissance, he often regaled friends with tales of life in his Southern hometown.

The memories Poston shared were about him and his friends, who were often portrayed as heroes for outwitting their elders. The stories are set in their school, homes, church and the town.

Poston’s biographer, the late Kathleen Hauke, was responsible for getting the short story collection published. She received the stories from Henry Lee Moon, who had been the NAACP’s public relations director and the executor of Poston’s estate.

Moon encouraged Hauke to find a publisher, and she eventually moved to Hopkinsville to study the characters and the factual background of the stories. She lived in Hopkinsville for approximately six months in the mid-1980s and compiled footnotes on Hopkinsville history and segregated life at the turn of the 20th century. 

Although Poston never got around to publishing all of his short stories, he had intended to title a collection as “The Dark Side of Hopkinsville,” and that is the name Hauke and her publisher, the University of Georgia Press, chose for the book. 

Poston once said he wanted to write the stories because he believed “someone should put down the not-always depressing experiences of a segregated society like the one I grew up in.”

Poston’s short stories grew from regaling friends of life in Hopkinsville

Jennifer P. Brown

Jennifer P. Brown is the founder and editor of Hoptown Chronicle. You can reach her at editor@hoptownchronicle.org.

Hoptown Chronicle