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Naida Portia McCullough (born about 1901 — September 19, 1989) was an American educator, pianist, and composer based in Los Angeles.

Naida McCullough
Naida McCullough, from a 1928 newspaper.
Naida McCullough, from a 1928 newspaper.
DiedSeptember 19, 1989
Other namesNaida McCullough Banks
Occupationpianist, activist
Years active1920s-1950s

Early lifeEdit

Naida McCullough was born in Colorado, the daughter of George A. McCullough and Georgia A. McCullough. She was raised in Denver, where she began as a performer and learned to play the church organ,[1][2] and graduated from Los Angeles High School in the winter class of 1917.[3]

She had a sister, Yolande McCullough; the sisters taught music classes together as young women.[4][5] Yolande married Leonard Stovall, a doctor in World War I who worked on tuberculosis prevention after the war.[6][7]

College activitiesEdit

McCullough studied music was described in 1921 as "the first colored girl to graduate from the music department of the University of Southern California".[8] She was the first African American woman to receive a Pi Kappa Lambda Key (Music).[9][10] McCullough was a founding member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority chapter at USC, and she helped to found the chapter at UCLA in 1925, and was a founding member of the west coast graduate chapter, in 1927.[11][12] She performed at the national gatherings of the sorority in Philadelphia in 1925,[13] and in 1932 in Los Angeles.[14][15]

As a student McCullough was also active in the Junior Branch of the NAACP's Los Angeles chapter.[16] As a leader of that organization in 1925, she worked on a production of W. E. B. Du Bois's pageant, The Star of Ethiopia at the Hollywood Bowl,[17] then led a boycott of the same production, when it was taken over by more established theatre professionals.[18][19]


McCullough played gave concerts, including her own compositions in the program of piano music. "Genius is the only fitting description of this remarkably talented young woman", according to a 1936 report, remarking especially on her own works, "Hawaiian Rain Shower" and "E Flat Sonata", and her rendition of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's "I'm Troubled in Mind".[20] She joined the Los Angeles Musicians Association in 1931.[21] She accompanied singers Florence Cole Talbert and Lillian Evanti.[22][23][24][25] In 1937 she visited Hawaii to give performances and study at the University of Hawaii.[26][27] In 1940, she and singer Tomiko Kanazawa gave a concert together at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, to benefit a tuberculosis rest home in Duarte, California.[28]

McCullough also taught kindergarten in Los Angeles, and worked with principal Bessie Burke at the Holmes Avenue School.[29][30] She sometimes gave lectures on Hawaii to community groups, after her studies there.[31] Because she was a member of the board of the Musicians' Congress, her name came up in a state Senate report on "un-American activities in California".[32]

Personal lifeEdit

Naida P. McCullough eloped with realtor Fitzhugh L. Banks in January 1940;[33] they divorced a few months later.[34] Naida McCullough died in 1989, aged 88 years.


  1. ^ "City News" Denver Star (April 26, 1913): 8. via
  2. ^ "Denver Personals" Denver Statesman (March 9, 1912): 4. via
  3. ^ "Denver Girl Wins Exceptional Praise at Los Angeles" Denver Star (February 24, 1917): 2. via
  4. ^ "Young Society Matron Entertains" California Eagle (August 17, 1923): 7. via Internet Archive 
  5. ^ "Pupils Delightfully Entertained" California Eagle (December 1923): 6. via Internet Archive 
  6. ^ W. Douglas Fisher, Joann H. Buckley, African American Doctors of World War I: The Lives of 104 Volunteers (McFarland 2015): 205. ISBN 9781476623177
  7. ^ Barbara Mounts, "City Mourns Mrs. Yolande Stovall" California Eagle (July 23, 1964): 2. via Internet Archive 
  8. ^ Untitled brief item, New York Age (July 16, 1921): 5. via
  9. ^ "Naida Posten McCullough" Alpha Kappa Alpha's Pioneering Sorors Open Doors (online exhibit).
  10. ^ Delilah L. Beasley, "Activities Among Negroes" Oakland Tribune (August 16, 1925): 20. via
  11. ^ Far Western Regional Directors, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.
  12. ^ "AKA Graduate Chapter Elects Officers" California Eagle (December 18, 1941): 9. via Internet Archive 
  13. ^ "Alpha Kappa Alpha Boule in Philadelphia was Notable Occasion" New York Age (January 10, 1925): 9. via
  14. ^ "Half Hour Music at Greek Theater" San Francisco Examiner (August 21, 1932): 2. via
  15. ^ "A. K. A. in 5-Day Session in Los Angeles" Baltimore Afro-American (August 13, 1932): 23. via
  16. ^ "Junior N. A. A. C. P. Meets Sunday" California Eagle (August 18, 1924): 6. via Internet Archive 
  17. ^ "Who's Who in the Production of the Pageant: Miss Naida McCullough" California Eagle (April 10, 1925): 4. via Internet Archive 
  18. ^ Douglas Flamming, Bound for Freedom: Black Los Angeles in Jim Crow America (University of California Press 2006): 267-268. ISBN 9780520249905
  19. ^ Douglas Flamming, "The Star of Ethiopia and the NAACP: Pageantry, Politics, and the Los Angeles African American Community" in Tom Sitton, William Francis Deverell, eds., Metropolis in the Making: Los Angeles in the 1920s (University of California Press 2001): 146-153. ISBN 9780520226272
  20. ^ "Alpha Wives Prepare for Mates' Confab" Pittsburgh Courier (June 6, 1936): 8. via
  21. ^ "L. A. M. A." California Eagle (April 3 1931): 5. via Internet Archive 
  22. ^ George Marion McClellan, "National Association Presents Madame Florence Cole-Talbert in Recital" California Eagle (October 21, 1932): 1. via Internet Archive 
  23. ^ "Diva Evanti Feted in Hollywood by Celebs" Pittsburgh Courier (April 20, 1935): 11. via
  24. ^ "School of Missions Musical Program" Holly Leaves (November 17, 1922): 13.
  25. ^ "Madame Florence Cole-Talbert at Pasadena Rose Bowl" California Eagle (July 13, 1928): 1. via Internet Archive 
  26. ^ "Pianist to Give KGU Recital" Honolulu Advertiser (August 28, 1937): 7. via
  27. ^ "Pianist to be Heard Sunday" Honolulu Star-Bulletin (August 28, 1937): 38. via
  28. ^ "Benefit Concert for Duarte Home" Los Angeles Times (January 21, 1940): 47. via
  29. ^ "Holmes Ave. School Teachers Send Greetings" California Eagle (December 23, 1927): 1. via Internet Archive 
  30. ^ "Teachers Honor Mrs. Bessie Burke" Chicago Defender (January 9, 1937): 7. via ProQuest
  31. ^ "Educational Films Seen at Independent" California Eagle (January 6, 1937): 4A. via Internet Archive 
  32. ^ Report of the Senate Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities, 1948 : Communist Front Organizations (1948): 317. via Internet Archive 
  33. ^ "Pianist Naida McCullough Weds Realtor" California Eagle (February 1, 1940): 4A. via Internet Archive 
  34. ^ "Naida McCullough Banks" California Eagle (July 25, 1940): 4A.