From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Dill, Augustus Granville

(born: 1881  -  died: 1956) 

Augustus Granville Dill was a writer, musician and civil rights activist. He was born on November 30, 1881 in Portsmouth, Ohio, and was one of the four children of John and Elizabeth Stratton Dill of Louisville, KY. He was raised by his father’s second wife Nettie Alice Holiday Dill whose parents were from KY, according to Augustus G. Dill's World War I Draft Registration Card found in Ancestry. In 1900, he was a schoolteacher in Portsmouth, according to the 1900 U.S. Census. 

He graduated from Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University) with a bachelors in sociology in 1906, and where he struck up a close friendship with W. E. B. Dubois. Dill would go on to graduate with a second bachelors from Harvard in 1908 before returning to Atlanta University to complete his masters in sociology in 1909. After DuBois moved to New York to found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People [NAACP], Dill was hired as associate professor of sociology and organist in 1910 at Atlanta University [source: Secretary’s Second Report. Class Committee: M. L. Newhall, et. al. Harvard College, 1914. (Online at].

During his time at Atlanta University, Dill co-wrote seminal works such as The College-Bred Negro (1910), The Common School and the Negro (1911), The Negro American Artisan (1912), and Morals and Manners Among Negro Americans (1914) that spoke eloquently to the effects of racial apartheid on the development of Black folks in the United States [source: "Raised Voices among Pretty manners: Profiles of ten LGBT Activists for Social Justice" at website]. These works were produced in collaboration with W. E. B. DuBois who Dill counted as both friend and mentor.

In 1913, Dill moved to New York City to become the first office manager and assistant editor for The Crisis a publishing house that printed a quarterly publication about the work of the NAACP. DuBois praised his efforts thusly "[Dill] gave to the work his utmost devotion and to him was due much of its phenomenal business success" [source: p. 159 see "Augustus Dill" entry in Harlem Renaissance Lives: from the African American National Biography, ed. H. L. Gates Jr. and E. B. Higginbotham]. At The Crisis Dill would work alongside the circulation manager Frank Turner from Richmond, KY. Although the publishing arm went out of business in 1921, The Crisis continues as a quarterly journal today.  One of the first things published by The Crisis was a children's magazine entitled The Brownie Book that sought to make African American history accessible to children which began in 1920 [source: see "Augustus Dill" entry in Harlem Renaissance Lives: from the African American National Biography, ed. H. L. Gates Jr. and E. B. Higginbotham].

In 1928 Dill was detained as a result of a sting operation targeting homosexuality. This led W. E. B. DuBois to fire Dill and distance himself personally.  As a result of the withdrawal of support from W. E. B. Dubois, Dill recused himself from academic and literary life and turned his attention to music, he supported himself by playing the piano and organ, running a bookstore, and giving music lessons to children.

In 1951, Dill moved to Louisville KY, to live with his sister, Mary Dill Broadus [widow of Robert Broadus] at 827 S Preston Road, and worked as a doorman for the Grand Theater according to the Caron's Louisville City Directory 1957. While there he continued to work occasionally as an organist.

He died of coronary occlusion in Louisville, KY on March 8, 1956, at the Red Cross Hospital; he was 74 years old [source: Kentucky Death Certificate file no. 116 56-5072, registrar no. ?-622]. In his 1940 book Dusk of Dawn, W. E. B. DuBois wrote, "I dismissed my co-worker forthwith, and spent heavy days regretting my act" [source Black Like Us: A Century of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual African American Fiction, ed. D. W. Carbado, D. A. McBride and D. Weise]. 

This entry was written by Angelica Miller.

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Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Red Cross Hospital and Nurse Training Department (Louisville, KY)
NKAA Source: The Negro American artisan
NKAA Entry: Turner, Frank M. and Frosty [Wyatt Burghardt Turner]
NKAA Source: Ancestry (online)
NKAA Source: Caron's Louisville (Kentucky) city directory (annual)
NKAA Source: The College-bred Negro American
NKAA Source: Crisis (periodical)
NKAA Source: Harlem Renaissance lives from the African American national biography
NKAA Source: Black like us : a century of lesbian, gay, and bisexual African American fiction
NKAA Source: Secretary’s second report

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“Dill, Augustus Granville,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed August 21, 2019,

Last modified: 2018-11-12 16:28:52