Texas Women's History Month: A Musicologist And Civil Rights Leader

Mar 27, 2017

Maud Cuney-Hare's career as a folklorist and musicologist took her to the Caribbean to study the roots of African-American music.

 Talented musician, writer, and activist Maud Cuney-Hare rose to prominence in the Northeast, but she never gave up her Texas heritage.

Born in Galveston in 1874, she was the daughter of Adelina and Norris Wright Cuney, one of the state’s most influential African-American politicians and civil rights leaders of the post-Civil War era. She grew up in an upper-class home filled with music and literature, and after graduating from high school studied at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.

When white students tried to have her barred from living on campus, she stood her ground and won the right to remain in her dormitory. She cultivated relationships with prominent black leaders, including W.E.B. DuBois, to whom she was briefly engaged and with whom she remained close both personally and professionally throughout her life. 

She returned to Texas in the late 1890s when her parents fell ill, and taught in Austin and Prairie View for a time, but eventually returned to Boston. She married William Hare in 1906, and traveled extensively in the Caribbean researching the roots of African-American music.

Her work as a folklorist and musicologist was widely respected and she wrote numerous articles and books. She died in 1936 and was buried next to her parents in Galveston’s Lake View Cemetery.

This month, KUT is partnering with the Ruthe Winegarten Foundation to celebrate Women's History Month. Every day, we'll bring you a short feature spotlighting a historic woman, movement, or group of women in Texas.