Nebraska Authors

Lela Knox Shanks

Born 1927-09-16 Oklahoma City, OK (USA)

Died 2011-10-24
Lincoln, NE (USA)

Lincoln, NE (USA)

Lela Knox Shanks lived in Lincoln from 1965 to her death. Shanks cites as her influences her African-American heritage, her work in the 1960s civil rights movements, her parents, and her spiritual mentors. She was one of Lincoln, Nebraska's most respected civil rights leaders. Late in life she came to write about care-giving when her husband suffered from Alzheimers.

Places Lived

Lincoln, NE: 1965-2011
Oklahoma City, OK
St. Louis, MO
Jefferson City, MO
Chicago, IL
Denver, CO
Kansas City, KS

Author Of

  • Nonfiction
  • Poetry
  • Journalism


Civil Rights; Social Activism; Social Commentary; Alzheimer's; Caregiving; Essays; Editorial


Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism, 1949, Lincoln University, Jefferson City, MO


Independent Scholar and Lecturer
Civil Rights Activist
Regional Field Supervisor

Places Worked

Chicago Defender
St. Louis Argus

Department of Labor


John H. Ames Reading Series, Featured Reader, 17 April 1997
NAACP Achievement Awards for Literature, 1997
YWCA Tribute to Women, 1997
Alice Paul Award
Lenora Letcher Community Award
Coalition for Older Adult Health Promotion Award
Caregiver of the Year Award


Activist Eric Shanks is her son


Your Name Is Hughes Hannibal Shanks. 1996.

Lela Knox Shanks' April 1997 Ames Reading Series presentation:

We appreciate corrections and additions to our information about authors, but please read the following guidelines and caveats carefully.

  • The Nebraska Authors database is based on publicly available sources. Unless you are the author contacting us in person, it helps us if you cite the source or sources of your information. We cannot include unsourced information in the database.
  • We may be appreciative of information we choose not to include in the publicly available database.
  • To include an image on an author profile, please send jpg attachment to nebraskaauthors@lincoln.ne.gov. A photo-release agreement is required before the image will be published on this site.
  • Because of the way we are staffed, expect corrections or additions to take time, sometimes up to three months.
  • While we initially included some actual links to external URLs in the database, we will in the future no longer provide functioning links. We will instead record the presence of specific external materials in language that we hope will help intelligent users find it themselves. Web rot, in which actual materials remain online but undergo changes in their URLs, is too demanding in terms of staff time for us to hope to keep external links current.

Please copy, fill out the form below, and email it to NebraskaAuthors@lincoln.ne.gov to suggest a change.

Lela Knox Shanks

Do you have corrections for the above information or other information to add?:

(e.g. Author is buried in Fremont, not in David City / Also wrote for the Daily Nebraskan during her time as a student)