E is for Evelyn

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2019-01-19 02:48Z by Steven

E is for Evelyn

Adulting Whilst…
2019-01-05

Fiona Timba

E is for Evelyn, Evelyn Dove.

Evelyn Dove was born in London on 11 January 1902 and was the first black woman to sing on BBC radio. Although often referred to as the British Josephine Baker, Evelyn Dove replaced Josephine Baker in 1932 as the star attraction at the Casino de Paris and in a career that spanned over five decades she was a star of jazz and cabaret, embraced by the world.

Evelyn had West African and English heritage, her father being a barrister originally from Sierra Leone. It is reported that she had a privileged upbringing, attending private school before going on to study at the Royal Academy of Music and in 1925 she became the first black woman to sing on BBC radio in 1925 at the age of just 24! Evelyn toured Europe performing with many of the great American jazz performers of the time before replacing Josephine Baker at the Casino de Paris. Coming from a privileged middle-class family, and with a parent of African heritage, you can only imagine the reaction her parents had to Evelyn donning Josephine’s revealing costume…

Read the entire article here.

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Born to Protest: Legal Trailblazer Pauli Murray Takes Her Rightful Place in History

Posted in Articles, Biography, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States, Women on 2019-01-18 23:29Z by Steven

Born to Protest: Legal Trailblazer Pauli Murray Takes Her Rightful Place in History

Bitch Media
2018-12-20

Marisa Bate


Dr. Pauli Murray is finally reentering our public consciousness. (Associated Press)

In On the Basis of Sex, the forthcoming movie about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s journey into law, RBG (played by Felicity Jones) holds a moot court in her apartment to prepare for Moritz v. Commissioner, her first big case and the beginning of her lifelong fight against sex discrimination. One of the moot court judges is Dr. Pauli Murray (Sharon Washington), an African American lawyer, activist, poet, and priest, who’s wearing a truly terrific pink pantsuit. “Pauli would have been upset about that pink suit,” Rosalind Rosenberg, Professor of History Emerita at Barnard College, and Murray’s biographer tells me. In fact, “Pauli never visited Ginsberg’s apartment and certainly did not serve on a moot court as a judge, but it’s a biopic, and I think it’s a visually defensible way into the picture. But [as] a historian, if this was a documentary, I would’ve protested because this never happened.”

I was thrilled to see Murray in On the Basis of Sex, even if the film rewrote some of history’s details. (The movie’s screenwriter is RBG’s nephew, Daniel Stiepleman, and a generous defense would suggest the inclusion is a tribute to those his aunt admired most.) I have been fascinated by Murray’s life, career, and why she’s been so overlooked and underknown since I stumbled across an article about her a few years ago. Anna Pauline “Pauli” Murray was born into a mixed-race family in Baltimore in 1910, orphaned at the age of 3, adopted by her aunt, and raised in the Episcopal church in Durham, North Carolina, before becoming an influential civil-rights lawyer. Despite her accomplishments, when I visited the movie’s IMDb.com page, I found neither Sharon Washington nor Murray’s names listed. “Guy #1” and “Guy #2,” however, are…

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A mixed-race woman’s long quest to prove her Native American ancestry

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2019-01-05 20:47Z by Steven

A mixed-race woman’s long quest to prove her Native American ancestry

The Washington Post
2019-01-04

Neely Tucker, Contributing reporter


Darnella Davis, center, with her siblings and their parents, John and Mary, in 1955. Mary was Muscogee Creek, and John said he had Cherokee blood; a grandfather received a land allotment for Native Americans. But Darnella’s Indian heritage was later disputed. (University of New Mexico Press; courtesy of Lafayette West)

When Darnella Davis was a shy, “sandy-colored and sandy-haired” teenager growing up in Detroit in the 1960s, she knew she was “part Indian.” It wasn’t entirely clear what that meant. In that era of Motown, the civil rights movement and the devastating 1967 riot/rebellion that wrecked that city, she knew that her Oklahoma-based family was not culturally kin to the black neighbors who’d fled sharecropping and the Deep South. As a standout arts student at the city’s premier (and racially mixed) high school, Cass Tech, she knew she wasn’t white, either.

Her dad talked of growing up as a Cherokee kid; people sometimes called her Muscogee Creek mom “Pocahontas,” and the family drove 19 hours to their ancestral spot in northeast Oklahoma every summer and school holiday. Her grandfather, Crugee Adams, had once grown rich there, drawing on the mineral rights of his land allotment for Native Americans dating back to the late 19th century.

So imagine her surprise when she applied for a post-graduate scholarship in Boston reserved for Native Americans and was told, both by the state of Massachusetts and the Cherokee Nation, that she wasn’t Indian, either. The resulting, decades-long experience of white and Native American bureaucrats telling her what percentage of Indian blood she must possess to qualify as a certified member of the tribe proved to be the background for “Untangling a Red, White, and Black Heritage: A Personal History of the Allotment Era.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Untangling a Red, White, and Black Heritage: A Personal History of the Allotment Era

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2019-01-05 20:32Z by Steven

Untangling a Red, White, and Black Heritage: A Personal History of the Allotment Era

University of New Mexico Press
November 2018
312 pages
21 figs
6×9 in.
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8263-5979-7
E-book ISBN: 978-0-8263-5980-3

Darnella Davis
Washington, D.C.

Examining the legacy of racial mixing in Indian Territory through the land and lives of two families, one of Cherokee Freedman descent and one of Muscogee Creek heritage, Darnella Davis’s memoir writes a new chapter in the history of racial mixing on the frontier. It is the only book-length account of the intersections between the three races in Indian Territory and Oklahoma written from the perspective of a tribal person and a freedman.

The histories of these families, along with the starkly different federal policies that molded their destinies, offer a powerful corrective to the historical narrative. From the Allotment Period to the present, their claims of racial identity and land in Oklahoma reveal inequalities that still fester more than one hundred years later. Davis offers a provocative opportunity to unpack our current racial discourse and ask ourselves, “Who are ‘we’ really?”

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Walter F. White: The NAACP’s Ambassador for Racial Justice

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Justice, United States on 2019-01-05 01:39Z by Steven

Walter F. White: The NAACP’s Ambassador for Racial Justice

West Virginia University Press
January 2019
468 pages
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-946684-62-2
eBook ISBN: 978-1-946684-63-9

Robert L. Zangrando, Professor Emeritus of History
University of Akron

Ronald L. Lewis, Stuart and Joyce Robbins Chair and Professor Emeritus of History
West Virginia University

Walter F. White of Atlanta, Georgia, joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1918 as an assistant to Executive Secretary James Weldon Johnson. When Johnson retired in 1929, White replaced him as head of the NAACP, a position he maintained until his death in 1955. During his long tenure, White was in the vanguard of the struggle for interracial justice. His reputation went into decline, however, in the era of grassroots activism that followed his death. White’s disagreements with the US Left, and his ambiguous racial background—he was of mixed heritage, could “pass” as white, and divorced a black woman to marry a white woman—fueled ambivalence about his legacy.

In this comprehensive biography, Zangrando and Lewis seek to provide a reassessment of White within the context of his own time, revising critical interpretations of his career. White was a promoter of and a participant in the Harlem Renaissance, a daily fixture in the halls of Congress lobbying for civil rights legislation, and a powerful figure with access to the administrations of Roosevelt (via Eleanor) and Truman. As executive secretary of the NAACP, White fought incessantly to desegregate the American military and pushed to ensure equal employment opportunities. On the international stage, White advocated for people of color in a decolonized world and for economic development aid to nations like India and Haiti, bridging the civil rights struggles at home and abroad.

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It’s time to recognize Sally Hemings as a first lady of the United States

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia, Women on 2019-01-05 01:31Z by Steven

It’s time to recognize Sally Hemings as a first lady of the United States

The Los Angeles Times
2019-01-04

Evelia Jones

It’s time to recognize Sally Hemings as a first lady of the United States
A man reads a plaque about Sally Hemings at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s estate in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (Steve Ruark / Associated Press)

It is now widely understood that my ancestor Sally Hemings, an enslaved black woman, was the intimate companion of Thomas Jefferson for nearly four decades.

Monticello, the Virginia plantation operated as a museum by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, acknowledged as much with a new exhibit last year: Hemings’ living quarters. The exhibit presents as fact that Hemings gave birth to at least six of Jefferson’s children.

Much about their relationship remains lost to history. We know that Hemings was Jefferson’s property, and that in America she did not have the right to refuse sexual advances from her owner. We also know that Hemings was able to negotiate freedom for her children and “extraordinary privileges” for herself, and that she occupied a central place in Jefferson’s life…

Read the entire article here.

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Jean Toomer’s ‘Cane’ and the Ambiguity of Identity

Posted in Articles, Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2019-01-04 20:14Z by Steven

Jean Toomer’s ‘Cane’ and the Ambiguity of Identity

NYR Daily
The New York Review of Books
2018-12-28

George Hutchinson, Newton C. Farr Professor of American Culture
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York


A drawing of a sugar cane field in South Carolina, by Edouard Riou, late nineteenth century
Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan, Italy/De Agostini Picture Library/Bridgeman Images

Jean Toomer’s Cane was greeted in 1923 by influential critics as the brilliant beginning of a literary career. Many stressed the “authenticity” of Toomer’s African Americans and the lyrical voice with which he conjured them into being. His treatment of black characters contrasted starkly with both the stereotypes of earlier work by (mostly) white authors and the then current limitations of African-American problem fiction. As Montgomery Gregory pointed out for the new black magazine Opportunity, Toomer had avoided “the pitfalls of propaganda and moralizing on the one hand and the snares of a false and hollow race pride on the other hand.” Waldo Frank wrote, in the foreword to the book, “It is a harbinger of the South’s literary maturity: of its emergence from the obsession put upon its mind by the unending racial crisis—an obsession from which writers have made their indirect escape through sentimentalism, exoticism, polemic, ‘problem’ fiction, and moral melodrama. It marks the dawn of direct and unafraid creation.”

The unusual features and effectiveness of Cane can be attributed to the fact that its author was in rapid transition, vocationally, geographically, socially, and intellectually, between different identities. His unsettled position derived from both a complicated personal history and the unusual cultural moment in which he emerged as an artist. Born just two years after his famous grandfather, P.B.S. Pinchback—a former governor of Louisiana during Reconstruction—had moved from a palatial home in New Orleans to a smaller, though fashionable, house in Washington, Toomer never really knew the father for whom he was originally named. His mother, Nina, gave birth to him just nine months after a wedding of which her father disapproved and then found herself abandoned when Nathan Pinchback Toomer (as Jean was first named) was only a year old. Nina moved back to her autocratic father’s home, on the condition that she change the boy’s surname to Pinchback and his first name to anything other than Nathan (her husband’s name). Eventually, the first name became Eugene, after a godfather; but friends called the boy “Pinchy.” His mother called him Eugene Toomer and his grandparents, Eugene Pinchback. Ambiguity of identity and a strong intuition of the arbitrary nature of social labels came early to Toomer…

Read the entire article here.

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Shirley Segree Cuffee (July 16, 1932 – November 10, 2018)

Posted in Articles, Biography, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2018-12-31 03:13Z by Steven

Shirley Segree Cuffee (July 16, 1932 – November 10, 2018)

Beyond The Dash
2018-12-28

Shirley Segree Cuffee

Shirley G. Segree Cuffee was born on Saturday, July 16, 1932 in the woodlands of Varina, in Henrico county, Virginia. She was born in her grandmother’s house on her 140 acre farm, to Native American (Powhatan/ Arrohateck, Cherokee) and African-American parents.

Her mother, Inez Selena Baugh was indigenous to that land and her father, James Bethea, was born in Cherokee, North Carolina.

Shirley was her mothers second eldest daughter (first daughter, Thelma “Nuni” Baugh [deceased]); and the eldest of her parents three children together. Before turning 2 years old, she moved to New York City with her parents where her younger brothers James Bethea, Jr., and Cleave Bethea where born.

In 1937, she and her family moved into the first, then “experimental” project in New York City, the ‘Harlem River Houses‘ located along the Harlem River Drive between 151st and 153rd streets in Harlem, New York

Read the entire obituary here.

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Sono Osato, Japanese-American Ballet Star, Is Dead at 99

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2018-12-29 02:39Z by Steven

Sono Osato, Japanese-American Ballet Star, Is Dead at 99

The New York Times
2018-12-26

Richard Goldstein


Sono Osato rehearsing a number from the Broadway musical “On the Town” with the show’s choreographer, Jerome Robbins, in 1944. It was one of two hit musicals in which Ms. Osato appeared in the 1940s.
Eileen Darby/Graphic House

Sono Osato, a Japanese-American dancer who toured the world with the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, performed with the Ballet Theater in New York and then gained acclaim on Broadway in the World War II-era musicals “One Touch of Venus” and “On the Town,” was found dead early Wednesday at her home in Manhattan. She was 99.

Her death was confirmed by her sons, Niko and Antonio Elmaleh.

In the 1930s, Ms. Osato was a groundbreaking presence in Col. Wassily de Basil’s Ballets Russes, the world’s most widely known ballet company. She was the company’s youngest dancer when she joined, at 14; she was also its first performer of Japanese descent…

…Although she was born and raised in the Midwest, Ms. Osato seemed an incongruous choice to play Ivy Smith, billed as the “all-American girl,” in “On the Town.” Her father, Shoji, was a native of Japan, and her mother, Frances, was of French-Irish background…

Read the entire obituary here.

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Michael Tisserand: “Krazy Kat and the Poetics of Passing” | Talks at Google

Posted in Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Videos on 2018-12-01 03:50Z by Steven

Michael Tisserand: “Krazy Kat and the Poetics of Passing” | Talks at Google

Talks at Google
2018-06-26

Michael discusses his book, “Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White,” winner of the 2017 Eisner Award for best comics-related book, and a finalist in both the National Book Critics Circle Awards for Biography and the PEN America/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography. Krazy was also selected as a Kirkus Best Nonfiction Book of 2016 and as one of Vanity Fair‘s “Must-Read Books of the Holiday Season.”

Tisserand’s previous books include THE KINGDOM OF ZYDECO, an exploration of Louisiana music that received the ASCAP-Deems Taylor award for music writing, and the Hurricane Katrina memoir SUGARCANE ACADEMY. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times. When not writing, he coaches scholastic chess and is a member of The Laissez Boys, a Mardi Gras parading organization.

More information about Tisserand and his work can be found at www.MichaelTisserand.com.

Moderated by Camille Gennaio.

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