Albert Rice

Albert Rice was born in Washington, D.C., in 1903. He attended grammar school in the city and later graduated from the famed Dunbar High School. After graduation, Rice entered the government service but left to move to New York City in the winter of 1926 to pursue a literary career. Around this time, he was mentored by Richard Bruce Nugent, a fellow Washingtonian, whom he likely followed north. Rice regarded himself as a radical socialist with a disdain for bourgeois culture—a sentiment that propelled him out of the civil service and into the literary world of the Harlem Renaissance. When he was in his native city, he was a regular attendee of Georgia Douglas Johnson’s “Saturday Nighters,” a literary salon held at Johnson’s S Street home, which also attended by W. E. B. Du BoisLangston Hughes, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Alain Locke, and Countee Cullen

Rice is best known for his poem “The Black Madonna,” which was first published as “Black Madonna” in the October 1926 issue of Palms, a poetry magazine published in Guadalajara, Mexico, by the Mexican writer and educator Idella Purnell. The poem was anthologized the following year in Cullen’s Caroling Dusk (Harper & Brothers, 1927).