Hollis F. Price

Uncommon Man, Educator, Leader

  • Author(s): Bagby, George F.
  • Series:
  • Imprint: University of Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2017-06-26
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Hardcover - Printed Case: Price $45.00 | Buy Now

Hollis F. Price: Uncommon Man, Educator, Leader tells the extraordinary story of a man who for nearly thirty years led a small, historically black college through turbulent times in Memphis and sought to achieve racial progress through cooperation rather than confrontation. As president of LeMoyne (later LeMoyne-Owen) College from 1943 to 1970, Hollis Price oversaw dramatic growth in the size and quality of the college’s student body, faculty, and physical plant. As a member of the Congregational Church/United Church of Christ, he was a leader both in his own congregation and in the church nationally. As a worker for the United Negro College Fund from its inception in 1943 until his death in 1982, he was a leading fundraiser, offered creative solutions to problems, and pushed for the UNCF’s history to be recorded.

But Price’s achievements were in many ways less extraordinary than the man himself. He was intellectually impressive and thoughtful, yet unassuming, even folksy in his dealings with people, memorable for his humorous insights into human folly, especially his own. He was a man of accomplishments who interacted comfortably with virtually everyone he met, regardless of race, educational level, or economic status. Among his closest friends were not only professors and businessmen but custodians at LeMoyne-Owen. He was genuinely interested in other people, unfailingly generous with time, concern, and, when needed, money. Though he was both constitutionally and philosophically nonconfrontational, and sought for forty years to negotiate solutions to Memphis’s serious racial problems, he was also persistent and insistent in pushing for change, for racial progress, and justice.

George F. Bagby’s biography paints a fascinating portrait of a memorable man—and, in the process, reveals much about historically black colleges and universities, the United Negro College Fund, the United Church of Christ, and, not least, the racial crises and lost opportunities of Memphis over four tumultuous decades.

GEORGE F. BAGBY is professor emeritus of English at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. He is the author of Frost and the Book of Nature and has published essays in numerous journals and magazines, including American Literature, Alabama Review, Twentieth-Century Literature, and Virginia Magazine of History and Biography.