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Joseph Mason Andrew Cox Biography - Selected writings

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Writer, educator, poet, playwright

Joseph Mason Andrew Cox spent his adult life in New York City, working primarily as a writer, poet, and educator. Best known for his poetry, Cox also published a three-act play, two novels, and contributed to literary journals and anthologies. He also taught for over a decade in the City University of New York system.

Cox was born on July 12, 1930, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Hiram and Edith (Henderson) Cox. His mother was a nurse. Cox was educated at Columbia University in New York City, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1945 and a law degree in 1953. He completed his education at World University in Hong Kong, where he earned a doctorate in art psychology in 1972.

In 1955 Cox began his career as a reporter and feature writer for the black political newspaper, the New York Age. In 1958 he became a reporter and feature writer for the New York Post. After working at the Post for two years, he took the position as president of the Afro-American Purchasing Commission, based in New York City, where he remained from 1961 to 1968. From 1969 to 1971 he served as a consultant for the New York City Board of Education in Brooklyn.

In 1972 Cox took his first teaching job, spending a year as a lecturer at Manhattan Community College of the City University of New York, and the follow school year, he began serving as an assistant professor of English at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York in Brooklyn. In 1974 he became president of Cox & Hopewell Publishers, Inc. in New York City. Cox also continued to teach, and between 1975 to 1983 he taught courses at City University of New York, Manhattan Community College, Bronx Community College, Medgar Evers College, and the New York City University Research Center. From 1983 to 1988 Cox worked for the Federal Government Crime Insurance. He also served as producer and moderator for the television program Focus on Profound Thought.

In 1963, while working at the Afro-American Purchasing Commission, Cox published his first book, a novel titled The Search, which was published by Freedom Press. Soon thereafter Cox began receiving recognition for his writing skills. In 1964 he was presented with the International Essay from the Daniel S. Mead Agency, and in 1965 he was given the Great Society Writer's Award from President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1967 Cox served as the U.S. representative to the World Poetry Conference, Expo 67, in Montreal, Quebec.

Although Cox did not produce another full-length work until 1970, he contributed to four editions of the Golden Quill Anthology, published by Golden Quill, from 1968 to 1971. He also served as a columnist for the Caribbean Echo, a weekly newspaper directed to the West Indian community, from 1969 to 1971, and he contributed articles to numerous periodicals, including Poetry Review, West Review, and London's The Spring Anthology.

Cox's first and only play to be produced and published, the three-act Ode to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was first staged at the University of Pittsburgh's Creat-adrama Theatre in 1970. In the same year it was also published by Philadelphia publisher J. Brook Dendy.

In 1970, while working for the New York City Board of Education, Cox published the first collection of his poetry, aptly titled The Collected Poetry of Joseph Mason Andrew Cox, published by Golden Quill. In that same year he was given the Master Poets Award from the American Poet Fellowship Society. He also continued to contribute to a number of anthologies. Cox's poetry appeared in World of Poets Publishing's World Poets Anthology in 1971 and in two volumes of South and West Publishers' serial anthology, Poems by Blacks, in 1971 and 1972. His poetry can also be found in Moon Age Poets and New and Better World Poets, both published by Prairie Press in 1971 and 1972, respectively, and Lincoln Log, published by the Illinois State Poetry Society in 1973.

Cox was presented with the World Poets Award from the World Poetry Fellowship Society in 1972, and in that same year he received a PEN grant. In 1973 he was honored with the International Poet Laureate Award. In 1974, having formed his own Cox & Hopewell Publishers, Cox produced his second collection of poetry, the 188-page Shore Dimly Seen. In the same year he also published another collection, Bouquet of Poems, and the novel Indestructible Monument. Once again recognized for his work, Cox received the Humanitarian Award and the Gold Medal for poetry from the International Poets Shrine, both in 1974, and the United Poet Laureate International Gold Crown in 1976. New and Selected Poems, 1966-1978, for which Cox received a nomination for an American Book Award, was published in 1979 by Blue Diamond Press.

Cox took a break from his poetry to write Great Black Men of Masonry: Qualitative Black Achievers Who Were Freemasons, 1723-1982, published by Blue Diamond Press in 1982. A member of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge in New York, Cox provided an enlightening account of 269 black men who belong to the Masonic Lodge. The list included Ralph Abernathy, William "Count" Basie, Thurgood Marshall, Edward "Duke" Ellington, Richard Pryor, Booker T. Washington, Andrew Young, and Rev. Jesse Jackson. Cox was awarded the Medal of Distinction by the Asbury Park Neptune NAACP in 1984, the "Statue of Victory" World Culture Prize by Accademia Italia and the Bronze Statue by the Academy of Arts, Science and Letters, both in 1985, and a Gold Medal from the American Biographical Association in 1987 and in 1988. In 1993 he published his final work, Unfolding Orchid, 1847-1993.

According to Black American Writers Past and Present, Cox wrote to make an impact: "My art...is a sword to fight the dehumanizer and best of civilization and for a one world concept. Therefore, I must make it plain with the whole truth. Half-truths have proven inadequate to awaken a mass of unaware people." Cox retired and remained in New York City. A Democrat and a Unitarian-Universalist, he is also a member of numerous literary organizations.

At a Glance...

Born on July 12, 1930, in Boston, MA; son of Hiram and Edith (Henderson) Cox. Education: Columbia University, BA, 1945: Columbia University, LLB, 1953; World University, Hong Kong, PhD, art psychology, 1972. Religion: Unitarian-Universalist. Politics: Democrat.

Career: New York Post, reporter and feature writer, 1958-60; Afro-American Purchasing Commission, New York City, president, 1961-68; New York City Board of Education, Brooklyn, NY, consultant, 1969-71; Caribbean Echo, columnist, 1969-71; Manhattan Community College of the City University of New York, lecturer, 1972-73; Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York, assistant professor of English, 1973-74; Cox & Hopewell Publishing, Inc., New York City, president, 1974-200(?); City University of New York, Manhattan Community College, Bronx Community College, Medgar Evers College, and the New York City University Research Center, lecturer, 1975-83; Federal Government Crime Insurance, 1983-88.

Selected memberships: International Poetry Society; International Poets Shrine; Poetry Society of America; United Poets Laureate International; World Literature Academy.

Selected awards: "Great Society" writer's award, President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965; Master Poets Award, American Poet Fellowship Society, 1970; World Poets Award, World Poetry Fellowship Society, 1972; Humanitarian Award and Gold Medal for poetry, International Poets Shrine, both 1974; "Statue of Victory" World Culture Prize, Accademia Italia, 1985.

Addresses: Home—Bronx, NY.


The Collected Poetry of Joseph Mason Andrew Cox, Golden Quill, 1970.

Shore Dimly Seen, Cox & Hopewell Publishers, 1974.

New and Selected Poems, Blue Diamond Press, 1979.

Unfolding Orchid, 1847-1993, Cox & Hopewell Publishers, 1993.


The Search (novel), Freedom Press, 1963.

Ode to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (three-act play), J. Brook Dendy, 1970.

Indestructible Monument, N.p., 1974.

Great Black Men of Masonry: Qualitative Black Achievers Who Were Freemasons, 1723-1982 (nonfiction), Blue Diamond Press, 1982.



Rush, Theressa G., Carol F. Myers, and Esther S. Arata, Black American Writers Past and Present, Scarecrow Press, 1975.


"About the Author: Joseph Cox," BackinPrint.com. http://corppub.iuniverse.com/marketplace/backinprint/about_partner.html?mv_session_id=5aMdk6Ta&mv_pc=3&sku=0595227295 (January 10, 2005).

Beaderstadt, Jan L. "A Look from Within: A Look at Prince Hall Freemasonry," MasonicWorld.com, http://masonicworld.com/education/files/artmay01/prince_hall_look_from_within.htm (January 10, 2005).

"Joseph Mason Andrew Cox," Biography Resource Center, http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC (January 10, 2005).

—Kari Bethel

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over 7 years ago

I don't think he was born in 1930 if he received his BA in 1945. Other sources (e.g Petersen--Black playwrights book) give 1923, which seems about right.