The Groundbreaking Talent of Anne Wiggins Brown

Posted in Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2022-07-17 21:08Z by Steven

The Groundbreaking Talent of Anne Wiggins Brown

Amistad Research Center
New Orleans, Louisiana
2018-06-04

On September 30, 1935, soprano Anne Wiggins Brown stepped onto the stage at the Colonial Theatre in Boston. It was the much anticipated world premiere of George Gershwin’s new “folk opera,” and a big moment for the young vocalist. Far from just a lucky break, this was a major opportunity that Brown had carved out for herself, the culmination of years of work. For the past two years, she had spent many long days completing her classes as a graduate student at the Juilliard School (she had been the first African American student admitted there after auditioning at age 15), and then traveling down to meet with Gershwin and work on new material for his show. In a bold moment, the twenty-one year old had written the composer a letter after reading news of his new project. Once he heard her sing, Gershwin not only included her in his production, but in his writing process, eventually developing her character into a co-lead and a career-defining role for Brown. And thus the story of DuBose Heyward’s Porgy became known to the world as Porgy and Bess

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

The Proud Portrait of Richard T. Greener

Posted in Articles, Biography, Campus Life, History, Media Archive, United States on 2022-06-19 23:27Z by Steven

The Proud Portrait of Richard T. Greener

The Crimson
2020-09-17

Sophia S. Liang, Staff Writer

A new portrait of Richard T. Greener was unveiled at a ceremony in Annenberg Hall in 2016. By Thomas W. Franck

Greener’s rosy recollection of Harvard reflects a series of contradictions that characterized his life, both during and after college. Greener was a light-skinned Black man straddling racial divides in a segregated world. He received life-changing opportunities at a university where he struggled with loneliness and lacked faculty support. And despite his tremendous contributions in activism and public service, he remains relatively unknown to historians today.

In an 1881 speech at the Harvard Club of New York, Richard T. Greener, Class of 1870, lavished his alma mater with praise: “[Harvard] answered the rising spirit of independence and liberty by abolishing all distinctions founded upon color, blood, and rank,” he told an applauding audience. “There has been but one test for all. Ability, character, and merit — these are the sole passports to her favor.”

Such sentimental remarks may come as something of a surprise coming from the first Black graduate of Harvard College. The University, after all, had not been a friendly place to most who came before him and many who came after — nor, at times, to Greener. Indeed, the Harvard Club of Washington, D.C. would reject his own application four years later for no reason other than his race.

Greener’s rosy recollection of Harvard reflects a series of contradictions that characterized his life, both during and after college. Greener was a light-skinned Black man straddling racial divides in a segregated world. He received life-changing opportunities at a university where he struggled with loneliness and lacked faculty support. And despite his tremendous contributions in activism and public service, he remains relatively unknown to historians today…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

My Life in the Sunshine: Searching for My Father and Discovering My Family

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2022-06-19 22:34Z by Steven

My Life in the Sunshine: Searching for My Father and Discovering My Family

Viking (an imprint of Penguin Random House)
2022-06-07
320 Pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4
Hardcover ISBN: 9780593295960

Nabil Ayers

A memoir about one man’s journey to connect with his musician father, ultimately redefining what family really means

Throughout his adult life, whether he was opening a Seattle record store in the ’90s or touring the world as the only non-white band member in alternative rock bands, Nabil Ayers felt the shadow and legacy of his father’s musical genius, and his race, everywhere.

In 1971, a white, Jewish, former ballerina, chose to have a child with the famous Black jazz musician Roy Ayers, fully expecting and agreeing that he would not be involved in the child’s life. In this highly original memoir, their son, Nabil Ayers, recounts a life spent living with the aftermath of that decision, and his journey to build an identity of his own despite and in spite of his father’s absence.

Growing up, Nabil only meets his father a handful of times. But Roy’s influence is strong, showing itself in Nabil’s instinctual love of music, and later, in the music industry—Nabil’s chosen career path. By turns hopeful–wanting to connect with the man who passed down his genetic predisposition for musical talent—and frustrated with Roy’s continued emotional distance, Nabil struggles with how much DNA can define a family… and a person.

Unable to fully connect with Roy, Nabil ultimately discovers the existence of several half-siblings as well as a paternal ancestor who was enslaved. Following these connections, Nabil meets and befriends the descendant of the plantation owner, which, strangely, paves the way for him to make meaningful connections with extended family he never knew existed.

Despite his father’s absence, Nabil, through sheer will and a drive to understand his roots, redefines what family truly is.

Tags: , , , ,

A Fable of Agency

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia, Women on 2022-05-21 21:45Z by Steven

A Fable of Agency

The New York Review of Books
2022-05-26

Brenda Wineapple

Special Collections, University of Virginia Library

Lumpkin’s Jail; engraving from A History of the Richmond Theological Seminary, 1895

The Devil’s Half Acre: The Untold Story of How One Woman Liberated the South’s Most Notorious Slave Jail by Kristen Green. Seal, 332 pp., $30.00

Kristen Green’s The Devil’s Half Acre recounts the story of a fugitive slave jail, and the enslaved woman, Mary Lumpkin, who came to own it.

In The Allure of the Archives (1989), a gem of a book, the French historian Arlette Farge talks about unearthing, insofar as it’s possible, a past that’s not quite past—particularly in relation to the lives of women, whose histories have often been hidden, forgotten, or written over, women spoken about but whom we seldom hear speaking. Combing through the judicial archives at the Préfecture of Paris, Farge reads the sullen or angry answers that ordinary eighteenth-century Parisian women, some of the city’s poorest and most vulnerable, give to the police who have arrested them. And she knows that to understand what they say, or don’t say, we need to care and not to care: to distance ourselves with empathy while we set aside expectations and assumptions. Deciphering what’s left in the archives, Farge writes, “entails a roaming voyage through the words of others, and a search for a language that can rescue their relevance.”

Piecing together stories about women who managed the uncertainties and privations of their situations is even more difficult when the women in question have been enslaved and thus forbidden even the basic rights that an eighteenth-century Parisian laundress enjoyed. That is Kristen Green’s task in her impassioned The Devil’s Half Acre, which she calls “the untold story of how one woman liberated the South’s most notorious slave jail.”

Green is a journalist and also the author of Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County (2015), a personal account of how that Virginia county defied Brown v. Board of Education and shut down its schools for almost five years rather than integrate them. In The Devil’s Half Acre, she recovers the life of Mary Lumpkin, an enslaved woman of mixed race born in 1832 who, likely by 1840, was held in bondage at Lumpkin’s Jail, a chamber of horrors located between Franklin and Broad Streets in Shockoe Bottom, the central slave-trading quarter in Richmond, Virginia

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Portable Anna Julia Cooper

Posted in Anthologies, Autobiography, Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Social Justice, United States, Women on 2022-05-16 22:14Z by Steven

The Portable Anna Julia Cooper

Penguin Classics (an imprint of Penguin Random House)
2022-08-09
592 pages
5-1/16 x 7-3/4
Paperback ISBN: 9780143135067
Ebook ISBN: 9780525506713
Audiobook ISBN: 9780593457993

Anna Julia Cooper (1858-1964)

Edited by:

Shirley Moody-Turner, Associate Professor of English and African American Studies
Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

A collection of essential writings from the iconic foremother of Black women’s intellectual history, feminism, and activism, who helped pave the way for modern social justice movements like Black Lives Matter and Say Her Name

The Portable Anna Julia Cooper brings together, for the first time, Anna Julia Cooper’s major collection of essays, A Voice from the South, along with several previously unpublished poems, plays, journalism and selected correspondences, including over thirty previously unpublished letters between Anna Julia Cooper and W. E. B. Du Bois. The Portable Anna Julia Cooper will introduce a new generation of readers to an educator, public intellectual, and community activist whose prescient insights and eloquent prose underlie some of the most important developments in modern American intellectual thought and African American social and political activism.

Recognized as the iconic foremother of Black women’s intellectual history and activism, Cooper (1858-1964) penned one of the most forceful and enduring statements of Black feminist thought to come of out of the nineteenth century. Attention to her work has grown exponentially over the years–her words have been memorialized in the US passport and, in 2009, she was commemorated with a US postal stamp. Cooper’s writings on the centrality of Black girls and women to our larger national discourse has proved especially prescient in this moment of Black Lives Matter, Say Her Name, and the recent protests that have shaken the nation.

Tags: , , , ,

Reclamation: Sally Hemings, Thomas Jefferson, and a Descendant’s Search for Her Family’s Lasting Legacy

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2022-05-15 18:49Z by Steven

Reclamation: Sally Hemings, Thomas Jefferson, and a Descendant’s Search for Her Family’s Lasting Legacy

Amistad (an imprint of HarperCollins)
2021-11-16
288 pages
6x9in
Hardcover ISBN: 9780063028654
E-book ISBN: 9780063028678
Paperback ISBN: 9780063028661
Digital Audio, MP3 ISBN: 9780063028685

Gayle Jessup White

A Black descendant of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings’ family explores America’s racial reckoning through the prism of her ancestors—both the enslaver and the enslaved.

Gayle Jessup White had long heard the stories passed down from her father’s family, that they were direct descendants of Thomas Jefferson—lore she firmly believed, though others did not. For four decades the acclaimed journalist and genealogy enthusiast researched her connection to Thomas Jefferson, to confirm its truth once and for all.

After she was named a Jefferson Studies Fellow, Jessup White discovered her family lore was correct. Poring through photos and documents and pursuing DNA evidence, she learned that not only was she a descendant of Jefferson on his father’s side; she was also the great-great-great-granddaughter of Peter Hemings, Sally Hemings’s brother.

In Reclamation she chronicles her remarkable journey to definitively understand her heritage and reclaim it, and offers a compelling portrait of what it means to be a black woman in America, to pursue the American dream, to reconcile the legacy of racism, and to ensure the nation lives up to the ideals advocated by her legendary ancestor.

Tags: , , , ,

Tao Leigh Goffe Is On A Mission To Uncover ‘Afro-Asian Intimacies’

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Biography, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States, Videos on 2022-05-13 18:58Z by Steven

Tao Leigh Goffe Is On A Mission To Uncover ‘Afro-Asian Intimacies’

Sweet July
2022-05-09

Nylah Burton

“I am the sedimented sum of four islands. The Caribbean, Hong Kong, the British Isles, New York City; all of them seas and stretches of water containing many islands.”

“My parents named me Tao,” Dr. Tao Leigh Goffe narrates as she approaches an intricately carved, dark wood chest in season two, episode seven of the Hulu series Your Attention Please: Initiative 29.

Directed by Carmen LoBue, the short film is focused on Goffe—who was born in London and lives in New York City—and her Afro-Asian heritage. Opening the chest, Goffe’s hand grazes family photos and mementos: Black Caribbean men in smart suits, her Jamaican Chinese mother, and red envelopes gilded with gold, containing one word: Legacy…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

Impact of the forgotten black Europeans

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Europe, History, Media Archive, Religion, Slavery on 2022-05-13 15:39Z by Steven

Impact of the forgotten black Europeans

Islington Tribune
London, United Kingdom
2022-05-12

Angela Cobbinah

The Chevalier de St George

Scholars, poets, writers, composers… a new book focuses on the wide influence of Africa abroad, writes Angela Cobbinah

ALESSANDRO de Medici, Duke of Florence, virtuoso 18th-century French violinist and composer Joseph Bologne and 1922 world light heavyweight boxing champion Battling Siki from France via Senegal are probably people we know little about, if at all.

They are part of a forgotten European past explored by Olivette Otele in her scholarly book, African Europeans, which travels through time to reveal how trade, war, slavery and colonialism resulted in a black presence in Europe from as far back as the third century.

This is where Otele, professor of the history and memory of slavery at Bristol University, kicks off, telling the story of St Maurice, Egyptian leader of a Roman legion who was famously executed for refusing to crush a Christian revolt in Gaul.

Celebrated as a martyr across Germany, he is clearly represented as an African in a statue at Magdeburg Cathedral and other church iconography.

Black saints and Madonnas appeared across Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries, perhaps Otele speculates, to symbolise the transformative power of the Catholic Church in converting those it considered heathen…

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

African Europeans: An Untold History

Posted in Biography, Books, Europe, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Religion, Slavery on 2022-05-13 14:57Z by Steven

African Europeans: An Untold History

Basic Books
2021-05-04
304 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9781541619678
eBook ISBN-13: 9781541619937
Audiobook Downloadable ISBN-13: 9781549136627

Olivette Otele, Professor of History of Slavery and Memory of Enslavement
University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom

Conventional wisdom holds that Africans are only a recent presence in Europe. But in African Europeans, renowned historian Olivette Otele debunks this and uncovers a long history of Europeans of African descent. From the third century, when the Egyptian Saint Maurice became the leader of a Roman legion, all the way up to the present, Otele explores encounters between those defined as “Africans” and those called “Europeans.” She gives equal attention to the most prominent figures—like Alessandro de Medici, the first duke of Florence thought to have been born to a free African woman in a Roman village—and the untold stories—like the lives of dual-heritage families in Europe’s coastal trading towns.

African Europeans is a landmark celebration of this integral, vibrantly complex slice of European history, and will redefine the field for years to come.

Tags: ,

‘I know I’m Irish and I don’t have to prove that to anybody’

Posted in Articles, Biography, Europe, Media Archive on 2022-05-12 21:14Z by Steven

‘I know I’m Irish and I don’t have to prove that to anybody’

The Irish Times
2022-05-07

Sorcha Pollak, Immigration Reporter

Marguerite Penrose has written a memoir called Yeah, But Where are You Really From? Photograph: Alan Betson

Growing up as a black person with a disability in Dublin, Marguerite Penrose sensed her difference

On June 9th 2020, one week after thousands of young Irish people marched through the streets of Dublin calling for an end to racism and inequality, a new post appeared on the recently established Black and Irish Instagram page.

“My name is Marguerite. I was born in Dublin in 1974. I am a PROUD Irish/Zambian, living in Meath now.”

Marguerite Penrose had never spoken or written publicly about her background. She preferred not to dwell on the first three years of her life which she spent in a mother and baby home on the Navan Road, or her battles with scoliosis throughout her life. She didn’t like remembering the racist remarks outside nightclubs or disapproving stares on the bus. She preferred focusing on the positives – her incredible adopted family and her wonderful friends.

But then she decided to speak out about growing up as a black woman with a disability in Dublin…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,