Biographical Database of Black Women Suffragists

Biography of Eva Carter Buckner 1861-1946

By Sode Smith, student at Sacred Heart Preparatory High School, Atherton, California

Eva Carter Buckner was born in 1861 in Washington, Iowa. Both of her parents were from Pennsylvania, but moved to Washington, Iowa before her birth. Her parents moved to Des Moines when she was young, then to Colorado Springs, where she was educated in public schools. While living in Colorado Springs, she won a contest for poetry.

Eva Carter Buckner was a poet and songwriter for the African American and suffrage causes and through her work she uplifted her race and called for the recognition of the black man. She was extremely popular and is recognized as one of the most successful black poets. She was a prominent black suffragist, since she inspired many club songs for the Colorado and California Federations of Colored Women's Clubs. She was also an advocate for the NAACP and worked for her local branch on the NAACP school committee for Los Angeles. This school committee investigated incidents of reported prejudice and racial discrimination in public schools. Around 1910, Buckner moved to California and while living in Los Angeles, Carter joined the Los Angeles Forum of Colored Women. In 1916, Buckner also worked with Delilah Beasley on her book, The Negro Trail Blazers of California, which details the pioneering work of many African American men and women in California. Buckner was also an esteemed author, published in all of the states she lived in including Colorado, New Mexico, and California. Her verse appeared in the Denver Post, Colorado Springs Sun, and the Western Enterprise. In New Mexico, she was published in both white and black newspapers, and in California, she was published in the Daily Tribune, the California Eagle, The Advocate, and New Age. Her musical composition, 'City of Sunshine' (1905) was also published in a poetry book called the Gems of Poesy (1907).

There is conflicting information Eva Carter Buckner's personal life. Eva and Edward Buckner had three children: Mabel, Eugenia, and Garrie. Garrie Buckner was born in 1886 in Colorado, and was recorded as living in Los Angeles with his mother and father in the 1910 US census. He worked in an auto-shop as a wage-earner. Mabel Buckner, was born in 1908. Eugenia Buckner, was born in 1911, and married in 1932 to Melvin Strong, a school teacher from Kentucky. In 1905, the United States City Directory for Los Angeles recorded Eva Carter Buckner as being the spouse of painter, Edward H. Buckner. In both the 1930 and 1940 US Censuses Eva Carter Buckner is listed as widowed, but in 1938, there is a Los Angeles city directory listing the pair as living together. Eva Carter Buckner loved to share her talents with others: she would often read her poetry at political and church gatherings. Her work is very deeply moving and brings attention to the issue that race played within both the suffrage movement and politics in the United States. She died February 15, 1946 in Los Angeles, California.


A political poem written by Eva Carter Buckner from Delilah L. Beasley's The Negro Trail Blazers of California, p. 270.

If Lincoln Could Return Today

If Lincoln could return today,
I wonder what he'd think and say
About this great and glorious land
O'er which he once had full command;
With all the progress he would see,
I know he would astonished be.

The highlighting speed of which we boast,
A touch, a sound from coast to coast;
The clearly. Distinct spoken words,
Ships sailing through the air like birds;
Numerous inventions, small and great,
Too many to enumerate.

With all these things so strange and new,
I'm sure he'd scarce how what to do.
And, like a wanderer on the stand,
A stranger in his own homeland-
Until he look around and see
That same old flag of liberty.

I wonder then if he'd recall
The greatest deed he did for all,
And that if he would sorry be
That he had set the captives free!
Ah, yes, the world knows it was he.

A poem written by Eva Carter Buckner from Delilah L. Beasley's The Negro Trail Blazers of California, pp. 269-70.

What Constitutes a Negro?

When the first slave-ship was landed
With its cargo on the side
There was then no vexing question
As to which race he's allied;
Just a negro, plain and simple,
And as such might have remained
But-well, here we drop the subject
For there is nothing to be gained.

Years have passed and now we see him
On him's turned the strongest light;
Every race is represented;
Black, brown, yellow, red, and, white;
And they call him now a problem,
For there's One not been consulted
And in it He is involved.

There's rise and fall of Nations,
But, dispute it if you can,
There is just one God and Father
And the brotherhood of man.
Ten-tenths blood of pure Cuacuasion,
This is takes to make you white.
But one drop of Negro blood is
Just the same, as black as night

For this stamp was put upon him
And so let it thus remain
For what is the use of contending,
All contentions are in vain.

It is said ten million Negroes
Of this firm free land doth stand,
God inspires him to mount upward
Through chains bind both foot and hand.

Bead his crimes in boldest letters;
Negro, and no question then;
And we own him, our heads bowing,
Grieved to know we have such men.
On the other hand turning,
We can point with pride to those,
Who thought it worth while in striving,
And to frame the honor rose.

Dumas, known as the French nov'elist,
He, his negro blood could trace;
Tanner, artist known so widely;
Who has won himself a place
Yes, and there is the 'Black Napoleon,'
Brace 'Toussaint Louverture,'
And the great Edmonia Lewis,
Sculptress, whose work will endure.

And, we claim S. Coleridge Taylor;
Dunbar, though he's dead still lives;
Booker Washington we all know,
For the race his best thought gives
Bishop Grant, in sermons, lectures;
Dubois, John H. Jackson, true;
Chestnut, Vernon, trace em; Pushkin,
Browning, many others, too.

Great Rome had her gladiators,
And of them was very proud;
We care nothing for the prize-ring,
But, since it has been allowed,
Why not then applaud the winner,
Where white or dusky man,
The survival of the fittest
Is a rule, and it shall stand.

Call him Ishmaelite or Arab,
Paraphrase him, if you will;
Say Egyptian, if more pleasing,
But he is a Negro still.
There would be a grander Nation
With the goodness that's innate,
It would be a perfect heaven-
But the prejudice- too great.

But, there, friends,
Join us in life's great combat,
Though your skin be dark no matter;
You're a man, ev'n for all that,
And we are using every effort
To make good o'er we trod;
One hand with the flag a-waving,
And the other stretched to God.

In 1906 Eva Carter Buckner wrote a song for the Colorado Federation of Colored Women's Clubs when she lived in Colorado Springs. The song was sung to the tune of the 'Battle Hymn of the Republic' and appeared in Rosalyn Terborg-Penn's African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850-1920, p. 98.

We're Colorado's colored women struggling for a place;
We're loyal to our country and we're loyal to our race;
We're holding high the banner, in the dust it must not trail,
As we go marching on.
Onward, upward to the summit,
Onward, upward to the summit,
Onward, upward to the summit
We're advancing step by step


"Approximately 200 Attend Federation Meeting: Colored Women's Club to Hold Interesting Programs Daily." The Bakersfield Californian, 28 July 1925, Women's Page sec., p. 6.

Beasley, Delilah L. The Negro Trail Blazers of California. Los Angeles, 1919.

California State, Legislature, Assembly, City of Los Angeles. LOS ANGELES CITYWIDE HISTORIC CONTEXT STATEMENT: African American History of Los Angeles. Feb. 2018. Historic Resources Survey, Accessed 12 Nov. 2018.

"Eva C Buckner in the 1910 United States Federal Census." 1910 United States Federal Census,

"Eva C Buckner in the 1930 United States Federal Census." 1930 United States Federal Census, Operations

"Eva C Buckner in the U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995." US City Directories, 1822-1995,

Nanda, Aparajita. "The Black Frontier." A History of California Literature, edited by Blake Allmendinger, Cambridge University Press, 2015, p. 112.

"Negroes in Fight for Richardson: Woolwine's Resurrection of Dead Issues Fails to Interest Women." Los Angeles Sunday Times [Los Angeles], 29 Oct. 1922, p. 15.

Rumford, William Bryon. "Early Years." Interview by Amelia Fry et al.Legislator for fair employment, fair housing and public health : oral history transcript / William Byron Rumford, created by Edward France.

Online Archives of California, University of California, Berkeley, Accessed 30 Nov. 2018.

Terborg-Penn, Rosayln. African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850-1920, Indiana University Press, 1998.


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