From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Tate, Mary Lee

(born: 1890  -  died: July 15, 1939) 

Mary L. Tate was an artist and an art teacher. She was a 1911 graduate of the University of Cincinnati and also studied at the Cincinnati Art Academy and the University of Chicago. Her work was shown at the Harmon Exhibits from 1928-1931. Tate was born in Kentucky, the daughter of Harry and Anna Tate. The couple was married on March 17, 1898 in Cincinnati, OH. The family of five lived on Lincoln Avenue in Cincinnati, OH, according to the 1920 U.S. Federal Census. 

It was in Cincinnati where Mary L. Tate was an art teacher in the public schools. In 1911, she was a teacher at Douglas School for Negro Children when a student brought suit against Mary L. Tate and another teacher, Clara B. Willis. The student claimed that Willis had held her down while Tate beat her. Whatever was the outcome of the case, Mary L. Tate continued as a public school teacher in Cincinnati. Her name is mentioned often in The Enquirer (Cincinnati) as a participant in school activities. 

In 1934, Mary L. Tate was the sponsor of the Art Club at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Junior High School. She was a teacher at the school when she died in a head-on car crash in 1939. The driver of the other car was indicted for second degree manslaughter. Mary L. Tate was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery. 

For more see Negro Artists: an illustrated review of their achievements, by Harmon Foundation (1991 reprint edition); Afro-American Artists. A bio-bibliographical directory, compiled and edited by T. D. Cederholm; Ohio, County Marriage Records (Ancestry); "Negro child sues teachers," The Enquirer (Cincinnati), 05/04/1918, p.8; see Miss Mary Lee Tate in "School News," The Enquirer (Cincinnati), 03/15/1934, p.7; [Obituaries], The Enquirer (Cincinnati), 07/18/1939, p.17; "Two men, indicted in killing," The Enquirer (Cincinnati), 09/09/1939, p.22; "Would settle death claim," The Enquirer (Cincinnati), 05/15/1940, p.16; "Probation is granted," The Enquirer (Cincinnati), 05/29/1940, p.15.

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“Tate, Mary Lee,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 14, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-05-30 18:46:25