This Day in History: 1872-04-08

Playwright and educator Ruth Ada Gaines-Shelton is born in Glasgow, Missouri. Gaines-Shelton was raised by her father, a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She graduated from Wilberforce University in 1895 and went on to teach school in Montgomery, Missouri. Ruth Gaines-Shelton plays were part of the Harlem Renaissance. She is best known for her allegorical comedy The Church Fight, written in 1925. Unique and innovative for its era, The Church Fight does not deal with the relationship between different racial communities, but rather is totally centered around the black experience, written for a black audience. Many of Gaines-Shelton’s plays were written for her own church and women’s clubs. Not all of her plays have survived with many of her manuscripts lost and unpublished. Learn more.