Ralph Ellison, named after Ralph Waldo Emerson, was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to Lewis Alfred Ellison and Ida Millsap. He was the grandson of former slaves. Lewis Alfred Ellison, a small-business owner and a construction foreman. Lewis, who loved children and read books voraciously, worked as an ice and coal deliverer. He died from a work-related accident when Ellison was only three years old. His mother Ida then raised Ralph and younger brother Herbert by herself, working a variety of jobs to make ends meet. Many years later, Ellison would find out that his father hoped he would grow up to be a poet.
Ellison was born about 50 years after the end of the Civil War.
|Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison|
|Sculpture memorial to Ralph Ellison and "Invisible Man"|