Ida Gibbs Hunt (1862-1957)

Ida Gibbs Hunt was a Pan-African educator, writer, social activist, and concert pianist, born on November 16, 1862 in Victoria, British Columbia to prominent African American Mifflin Gibbs and Maria Ann Gibbs, who attended Oberlin College.  As a child, Ida studied at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and completed her senior year of high school at the Oberlin Preparatory Department of the college.  In 1884, Ida graduated from Oberlin College with a bachelor of arts in English, and in 1892, she received a master’s degree in English.  Ida taught Latin and mathematics in Alabama at the State Normal School, which later became Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College; and she was also the principal of the Preparatory Department of the State Normal School in Florida, which is now Florida A&M University.  From 1895-1904, Ida was an English teacher at the legendary Dunbar Senior High School, which at the time was called the M Street High School.

Ida Gibbs Hunt was deeply involved in the early Pan-African movement.  In 1919, Ida was assistant secretary of the first Pan-African congress held in Paris, and in 1923, Ida and W.E.B. DuBois co-chaired the committee that planned the third conference held in London.  While living in Paris, Ida was involved in many organizations including membership in the Femmes de France, the Club Franco-Etranger, and the Red Cross.  Ida was also involved in the Niagara Movement, the pre-cursor of the NAACP.

Additionally, Ida was an accomplished and prolific writer, and in 1923 she presented a paper at the third Pan-African conference held in London titled “The Coloured Race and the League of Nations.” Ida also published several articles in the Negro History Bulletin, the Journal of Negro History and in newspapers in the United States and internationally.

Ida Gibbs Hunt also lectured to audiences around the world, speaking to teacher’s associations and social organizations that supported peace, human justice, civil rights, and women’s suffrage.  Domestically she was active in the Book Lovers Club, the Bethel Literary Society, the NAACP, and the Washington Welfare Association; and Ida was also a founder of the first YWCA in Washington D.C.  Ida Gibbs Hunt died on December 19, 1957 in Washington, D.C.

Ida Gibbs Hunt was married to William Hunt, a politician who worked as secretary under her father Mifflin Gibbs when he was serving as U.S. Consul in Madagascar.  William Hunt served as U.S. Consul in many countries including Madagascar, Guadeloupe, Liberia, St. Michaels and for 20 years in St. Etienne, France.  William Hunt retired from government service after he was reassigned to the State Department in 1932.

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