Tagged with "His"
Jazz Legend - Ethel Waters
Category: Voices of Jazz
Tags: Black Swan; Broadway; Columbia Records; Cotton Club; His Eye is on the Sparrow; On

Abstract: Born in Chester on October 31 1900, Ethel Waters was an African American singer and actress famous for her style of “blues” as well as for leading the way for black entertainers of her time. Her career peaked during the roaring 1920s and continued throughout the 1930s during which time she completed the majority of her 259 recordings. Waters is best known for her performance of “Stormy Weather” at the Cotton Club in New York City, as well as her role of Hagar in On with the Show. She is also known for writing two critically acclaimed autobiographies, His Eye is on the Sparrow, which focuses on her beginnings and achievements as an entertainer, and To Me It’s Wonderful, which describes her participation in the Billy Graham Crusades that she toured with in her later years. Waters died in 1977 of heart disease.

Biography:

Ethel Waters was born the daughter of Louise Howard, on October 31 1900, at her great-aunt Ida’s home in Chester, Pennsylvania. Waters was a product of rape. At the age of 13, Waters’ mother was raped by John Waters (pianist). Waters said about her childhood, “I never was a child. I never was coddled, or liked, or understood by my family. I never felt I belonged. I was always an outsider.” Waters’ never had a relationship with her mother. Louise Howard moved away when Waters was a child, leaving her to the care of her grandmother, Sally Anderson. However, Waters’ spent most of her time with her aunts, Vi and Ching, because her grandmother worked long hours.

Though both alcoholic with terrible lifestyles, Waters’ aunts loved to sing. Waters wrote in her autobiography, Eye is on the Sparrow: “Vi had a sweet, soft voice. Ching’s was bell-like and resonant…One of the first pieces I remember Vi singing was ‘I Don’t Want to Play in Your Yard.’ Ching’s favorites were ‘There’ll Come a Time’ and ‘Volunteer Organist.’ But in the beginning it was always the story in the song that enchanted me.” These last few words explain Waters’ style of singing more than anything else. Waters was always able to tell a story with her music, though she would not figure this out until later in life.

As a young girl, Waters was exposed to a lot of negative things. She befriended a prostitute and witnessed the sexual relationships of her older sisters (they all shared a room). She grew up fast. Though she was exposed to these things, she didn’t allow them to influence her. Waters’ first steady job was at the Harrod Apartments in Philadelphia. She was a maid—a very humble job compared to what she would soon land. On October 17 1917, Waters’ seventeenth birthday, her friends convinced her to perform at a Halloween party. She sang a blues ballad which the crowd and a black vaudeville team (a group who would perform variety shows), Braxton and Nugent, loved. They approached her after the show and offered her $10 a week to join their team. Waters then began her steady ascent to fame.

Her first performance was in 1917 at the Lincoln Theater in Baltimore. She sang solos and was known as Sweet Mama Stringbean because, “I was so scrawny and tall.” Though the crowd was tough, and often louder than the performances, Waters’ voice would always capture the audience. One night Waters decided to add a new song to her show. She took the song, “St. Louis Blues” and sang it more slowly, with more pathos. She says, “You could have heard a pin drop in that rough, rowdy audience.” Her version of the song is now a classic and known to be the greatest blues song every written.

However, she was not involved with the most honest people. Waters soon found out that Braxton and Nugent were pocketing extra money from her act. At the time two other females were performing with Braxton and Nugent, as the Hill Sisters. After finding out about the scam Waters immediately left and the Hill Sisters followed. They decided to travel together as their own act.

They performed the same songs they did in Baltimore. One of them was Waters’ famous song, “St. Louis Blues.” They moved from theater to theater, performing for a different crowd every time. Though the Hill Sisters had good times, the trio did not last. The original Hill Sisters, Jo and Maggie, were jealous. There was backstage rivalry which stemmed from Waters’ success. Though they were a trio, Waters soon felt singled out and unwanted.

The trio turned into a duo, with just Jo and Ethel Waters. Though they traveled and sang together, Waters often took the spotlight. Once, Waters landed a job at 91 Decauter Street in Atlanta. That same night, Bessie Smith was on the bill. Smith had a lot of say with the managers, and forbid Waters to sing any blues while Smith was there. However, during Waters’ performance, the crowd began to shout, “Blues! Blues! Blues! Come on, Stringbean, we want your blues!” The manager was forced to revoke the ban placed on Waters. Bessie Smith personally gave Waters permission to sing “St. Louis Blues” and said to Waters after the show, “Come here long goody. You ain’t so bad. It’s only that I never dreamed that anyone would be able to do this to me in my own territory and with my own people. And you know damn well that you can’t sing worth a--” Waters had come into her own. She was a one-woman act.

“I still had no feelings of having roots. I was still alone and an outcast,” Waters says about her time with the Hill Sisters. After being injured in a car accident in 1918, Waters went back to Philadelphia. She placed her singing career on hold and began washing dishes at an automat. She did this until Joe Bright, a black actor-producer from New York, persuaded her to go back on stage. Wearily, in 1919, Waters accepted Bright’s offer and performed at Lincoln Theater in Harlem. It was during her second week at Lincoln Theater that her acquaintance, Alice Ramsey—a dancer—invited her to sing at Edmund’s Cellar. Waters began working there for $2 a night.

Her salary came from the audience in the form of tips. There were no set hours for work. Waters said, “There was no set closing time…I used to work from nine until unconscious.” Again, she changed her style of singing. Andrea Barnett writes in All-Night Party, “A pianist, Lou Henley, challenged Ethel to expand her repertoire, urging her to tackle more complex, ‘cultural’ numbers. But to Ethel’s surprise, she found that she could characterize and act out the songs just as she did with her blues. Audiences were enthusiastic.” More and more people would come to Edmond’s Cellar to watch Waters perform and tips became so good that musicians all around Harlem began looking for a chance to perform there. Waters’ finally began making a name for herself. Waters even went to Chicago at the request of Al Capone, who wanted her to sing at his bar. In 1929, with James P. Johnson as her accompanist, Ethel was singing songs like, “Am I Blue?” in On with the Show, where she was now making $1250 per week!

In All-Night Party, Andrea Barnet says, “Ethel’s versatility and inventiveness were beginning to serve her well. She had the sexual swagger of singers like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, yet her voice was softer. Ethel’s style was crisp and urbane, more northern.” She soon was noticed by Black Swan Records. She began recording with them and released a record with two sides. “Oh Daddy” and “Down Home Blues” were on that record, which sold 500, 000 copies in 6 months. Waters had recorded with pianist, Fletcher Henderson. The duo was so successful that they toured through the South and became the first black musicians to broadcast on the radio. Ethel continued to perform with various artists: female pianist, Pearl Wright, dancer, Ethel Williams (suspected to be her lover). She was living a lavish lifestyle, but her music never reflected her extravagant lifestyle. Instead, they reflected a more negative side of Waters’ adult life.

Ethel Waters held a few rocky relationships in her lifetime. She once dated a drug addict and thief. She married and divorced three times, though she rarely talks about two of her marriages. There are also rumors that Waters was bisexual. Though she tried to keep this private, she was often seen fighting in public with whichever girlfriend she was with at the time. The nature of her relationships was often reflected in her music; her songs are full of heartbreak. There was also another aspect of Waters music that must be noted. According to Barnet, “…besides the sweeter quality of her voice, she was just as likely to take a more droll, comedic view of male-female relations, making mischievous sport of both sexes.” Though singing was a great part of Waters career, she also became an actress.

Waters acted in a number of films and Broadway plays. In Waters’ opinion, her greatest role was that of Hagar in Mamba’s Daughters on Broadway in 1939 where she gave 17 curtain calls on opening night. In Mamba’s Daughters Waters plays a woman sent to exile after committing a minor crime. Consequently, she has to leave her daughter, Lissa, to the care of her mother, Mamba. Years later, Hagar must make one more sacrifice for her daughter, who is on her way to fame and fortune. She felt that Hagar paralleled her own mother’s life, and she put all of the emotion that she had into each performance. She was also the first black woman to ever star in a dramatic play on Broadway. In 1950, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in Pinky. In the movie, she plays the grandmother of Pinky, a young light-skinned woman, who passes for white while attending school in the North. In that same year she won the New York Drama Critics Award for her role in the play, The Member of the Wedding. Her co-star was the actress Julie Harris. Waters continued to land a number of roles in films and plays. She performed in Cairo (1942), Cabin in the Sky (1943), The Member of the Wedding (1952) and was even a guest on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” in 1972.

Ethel Waters also wrote two autobiographies. In 1951, His Eye is on the Sparrow was published. Her second autobiography, To Me it’s Wonderful, was published in 1977.

Ethel Waters’ career began to slow as the blues began to fade out of pop culture, but she was able to continue her career largely because of her ability to identify with the characters she played and the songs that she sang. Waters died on September 2, 1977, in Chatsworth, California. She will always be remembered for her incredible vocal and theatrical performances, and for being a woman who broke racial boundaries by playing in black and white vaudeville companies and earning equal praise in both.

Decades after her death, three of Waters’ singles were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame: “Dinah” in 1998 for Traditional Pop, “Stormy Weather” in 2003 for Jazz, and “Am I Blue?” in 2007 for Traditional Pop.

Works:

  • His Eye Is on the Sparrow. (with Charles Samuels) New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1951.
  • To Me It’s Wonderful. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., 1972.

Sources:

  • Barnet, Andrea. All-Night Party: The Women of Bohemian Greenwich Village and Harlem 1913-1930. New York, New York: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2004.
  • Carr, Larry. “Ethel Waters.” Jazzateria.com. 2004. 15 Oct. 2004. .
  • Gourse, Leslie. Sophisticated Ladies. New York, New York: The Penguin Group, 2007.
  • Marks, Peter. “A Familiar Tale of Sacrifice, traversing Today and ’39.” New York Times 25 Feb. 1998 .

This biography was written by Julia J. Spiering, Fall 2004; revised and extended by Joanne A. Gedeon, Spring 2010.

 

A moment in history with - Dr. Ralph Johnson Bunche
Category: Black Men Rock!
Tags: dr ralph johnson bunche moment history black men rock word life production new quality

Ralph Johnson Bunche (August 7, 1904-1971) was born in Detroit, Michigan. His father, Fred Bunche, was a barber in a shop having a clientele of whites only; his mother, Olive (Johnson) Bunche, was an amateur musician; his grandmother, «Nana» Johnson, who lived with the family, had been born into slavery. When Bunche was ten years old, the family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the hope that the poor health of his parents would improve in the dry climate. Both, however, died two years later. His grandmother, an indomitable woman who appeared Caucasian «on the outside» but was «all black fervor inside»1, took Ralph and his two sisters to live in Los Angeles. Here Ralph contributed to the family's hard pressed finances by selling newspapers, serving as house boy for a movie actor, working for a carpet-laying firm, and doing what odd jobs he could find.

His intellectual brilliance appeared early. He won a prize in history and another in English upon completion of his elementary school work and was the valedictorian of his graduating class at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, where he had been a debater and all-around athlete who competed in football, basketball, baseball, and track. At the University of California at Los Angeles he supported himself with an athletic scholarship, which paid for his collegiate expenses, and with a janitorial job, which paid for his personal expenses. He played varsity basketball on championship teams, was active in debate and campus journalism, and was graduated in 1927, summa cum laude, valedictorian of his class, with a major in international relations.

With a scholarship granted by Harvard University and a fund of a thousand dollars raised by the black community of Los Angeles, Bunche began his graduate studies in political science. He completed his master's degree in 1928 and for the next six years alternated between teaching at Howard University and working toward the doctorate at Harvard. The Rosenwald Fellowship, which he held in 1932-1933, enabled him to conduct research in Africa for a dissertation comparing French rule in Togoland and Dahomey. He completed his dissertation in 1934 with such distinction that he was awarded the Toppan Prize for outstanding research in social studies. From 1936 to 1938, on a Social Science Research Council fellowship, he did postdoctoral research in anthropology at Northwestern University, the London School of Economics, and Capetown University in South Africa.

Throughout his career, Bunche has maintained strong ties with education. He chaired the Department of Political Science at Howard University from 1928 until 1950; taught at Harvard University from 1950 to 1952; served as a member of the New York City Board of Education (1958-1964), as a member of the Board of Overseers of Harvard University (1960-1965), as a member of the Board of the Institute of International Education, and as a trustee of Oberlin College, Lincoln University, and New Lincoln School.

Bunche has always been active in the civil rights movement. At Howard University he was considered by some as a young radical intellectual who criticized both America's social system and the established Negro organizations, but generally he is thought of as a moderate. From his experience as co-director of the Institute of Race Relations at Swarthmore College in 1936, added to his firsthand research performed earlier, he wrote A World View of Race (1936). He participated in the Carnegie Corporation's well-known survey of the Negro in America, under the direction of the Swedish sociologist, Gunnar Myrdal, which resulted in the publication of Myrdal's An American Dilemma (1944). He was a member of the «Black Cabinet» consulted on minority problems by Roosevelt's administration; declined President Truman's offer of the position of assistant secretary of state because of the segregated housing conditions in Washington, D. C.; helped to lead the civil rights march organized by Martin Luther King, Jr., in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965; supported the action programs of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and of the Urban League. Bunche has not himself formed organizations, nor has he aspired to positions of administrative leadership in existing civil rights organizations. Rather, he has exerted his influence personally in speeches and publications, especially during the twenty-year period from 1945 to 1965. His message has been clear: Racial prejudice is an unreasoned phenomenon without scientific basis in biology or anthropology; «segregation and democracy are incompatible»; blacks should maintain the struggle for equal rights while accepting the responsibilities that come with freedom; whites must demonstrate that «democracy is color-blind»2.

Ralph Bunche's enduring fame arises from his service to the U. S. government and to the UN. An adviser to the Department of State and to the military on Africa and colonial areas of strategic military importance during World War II, Bunche moved from his first position as an analyst in the Office of Strategic Services to the desk of acting chief of the Division of Dependent Area Affairs in the State Department. He also discharged various responsibilities in connection with international conferences of the Institute of Pacific Relations, the UN, the International Labor Organization, and the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission.

In 1946, UN Secretary-General Trygve Lie «borrowed» Bunche from the State Department and placed him in charge of the Department of Trusteeship of the UN to handle problems of the world's peoples who had not yet attained self-government. He has been associated with the UN ever since.

From June of 1947 to August of 1949, Bunche worked on the most important assignment of his career - the confrontation between Arabs and Jews in Palestine. He was first appointed as assistant to the UN Special Committee on Palestine, then as principal secretary of the UN Palestine Commission, which was charged with carrying out the partition approved by the UN General Assembly. In early 1948 when this plan was dropped and fighting between Arabs and Israelis became especially severe, the UN appointed Count Folke Bernadotte as mediator and Ralph Bunche as his chief aide. Four months later, on September 17, 1948, Count Bernadotte was assassinated, and Bunche was named acting UN mediator on Palestine. After eleven months of virtually ceaseless negotiating, Bunche obtained signatures on armistice agreements between Israel and the Arab States.

Bunche returned home to a hero's welcome. New York gave him a «ticker tape» parade up Broadway; Los Angeles declared a «Ralph Bunche Day ». He was besieged with requests to lecture, was awarded the Spingarn Prize by the NAACP in 1949, was given over thirty honorary degrees in the next three years, and the Nobel Peace Prize for 1950.

Bunche still works for the UN. From 1955 to 1967, he served as undersecretary for Special Political Affairs and since 1968 has been undersecretary-general. During these years he has taken on many special assignments. When war erupted in the Congo in 1960, Dag Hammarskjöld, then secretary-general of the UN, appointed him as his special representative to oversee the UN commitments there. He has shouldered analogous duties in Cyprus, Kashmir, and Yemen.

Replying to an interviewer on the UN's intervention in international crises, Bunche remarked that the «United Nations has had the courage that the League of Nations lacked - to step in and tackle the buzz saw»3. Ralph Bunche has supplied a part of that courage.4

 Selected Bibliography

Bennett, Lerone, Jr., Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America. 4th ed. Chicago, Johnson Publishing Co., 1969.

Bunche, Ralph J., Extended Memorandum on the Programs, Ideologies, Tactics and Achievements of Negro Betterment and Interracial Organizations. A research memorandum for use in the preparation of Gunnar Myrdal's An American Dilemma. Original typescript (1940) deposited in New York Public Library; microfilm copies made in 1968 available in the libraries of the Universities of Illinois, Iowa, and California at Berkeley.

Bunche, Ralph J., French Administration in Togoland and Dahomey. Ph.D.dissertation. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Graduate School, 1934.

Bunche, Ralph J., «Human Relations and World Peace», in Gustavus Adolphus College Bulletin, 17 (1950). An address given at Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, Minn.) Commencement and Bernadotte Memorial Dedication, June 4, 1950.

Bunche, Ralph J., «My Most Unforgettable Character», Reader's Digest, 95 (September, 1969) 45 - 49.

Bunche, Ralph J., Native Morale in The Netherlands East Indies. Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of State for the Library of Congress, 1941.

Bunche, Ralph J., «Peace and Human Progress», in Symposium on World Cooperation and Social Progress. New York, League for Industrial Democracy, 1951.

Bunche, Ralph J., «Peace and the United Nations», the Montague Burton Lecture on International Relations. Leeds, England, University of Leeds, 1952.

Bunche, Ralph J., «United Nations Intervention in Palestine», in Colgate Lectures in Human Relations, 1949. Hamilton, N.Y., Colgate University, 1949.

Bunche, Ralph J., «What America Means to Me», as told to Irwin Ross. The American Magazine, 149 (February, 1950) 19, 122-126. Reprinted in Negro Digest (September, 1950).

Bunche, Ralph J., A World View of Race. Washington, D.C., Associates in Negro Folk Education, 1936. Reissued, Port Washington, N.Y., Kennikat Press, 1968.

Flynn, James J., «Ralph Johnson Bunche: Statesman», in Negroes of Achievement in Modern America. New York, Dodd, Mead, 1970.

Hughes, Langston, «Ralph Bunche: Statesman and Political Scientist», in Famous American Negroes. New York, Dodd, Mead, 1954.

Italiaander, Rolf, Die Friedensmacher: Drei Neger erhielten den Friedens-Nobelpreis. Kassel, W. Germany, Oncken, 1965. Brief biographies of Bunche, King, and Luthuli.

Kugelmass, J. Alvin, Ralph J. Bunche: Fighter for Peace. New York, Julian Messner, 1952.

Myrdal, Gunnar, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy. New York, Harper, 1944.

Phifer, Gregg, «Ralph Bunche: Negro Spokesman», in American Public Address, ed. by Loren Reid. Columbia, Mo., University of Missouri Press, 1961.


1. Bunche pays tribute to this «matriarch» of the family in an autobiographical fragment in Reader's Digest, «My Most Unforgettable Character».

2. See Gregg Phifer, «Ralph Bunche: Negro Spokesman», passim.

3. «Crisis», in The New Yorker, 43 (July 29, 1967) 23.

4. Suffering from heart disease and diabetes, Mr. Bunche resigned as UN undersecretary-general on October 1, 1971. He died on December 9, 1971.

From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1926-1950, Editor Frederick W. Haberman, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1972

This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel. It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.

 

Ralph Bunche died on December 9, 1971.

 

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1950

Source: Nobleprize.org

A moment in history - W. E. B. Du Bois
Category: Black Men Rock!
Tags: moment history web du bois black ment rock word life production new qualtiy entertainment

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (February 23, 1868 - August 27, 1963) was an American civil rights activist, leader, Pan-Africanist, sociologist, educator, historian, writer, editor, poet, and scholar. He became a naturalized citizen of Ghana in 1963 at the age of 95.

On Feb. 23, 1868, W. E. B. Du Bois was born in Great Barrington, Mass., where he grew up. During his youth he did some newspaper reporting. In 1884 he graduated as valedictorian from high school. He got his bachelor of arts from Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., in 1888, having spent summers teaching in African American schools in Nashville's rural areas. In 1888 he entered Harvard University as a junior, took a bachelor of arts cum laude in 1890, and was one of six commencement speakers. From 1892 to 1894 he pursued graduate studies in history and economics at the University of Berlin on a Slater Fund fellowship. He served for 2 years as professor of Greek and Latin at Wilberforce University in Ohio.

In 1891 Du Bois got his master of arts and in 1895 his doctorate in history from Harvard. His dissertation, The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States of America, 1638-1870, was published as No. 1 in the Harvard Historical Series. This important work has yet to be surpassed. In 1896 he married Nina Gomer, and they had two children.

In 1896-1897 Du Bois became assistant instructor in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. There he conducted the pioneering sociological study of an urban community, published as The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study (1899). These first two works assured Du Bois's place among America's leading scholars.

Du Bois's life and work were an inseparable mixture of scholarship, protest activity, and polemics. All of his efforts were geared toward gaining equal treatment for black people in a world dominated by whites and toward marshaling and presenting evidence to refute the myths of racial inferiority.

As Racial Activist

In 1905 Du Bois was a founder and general secretary of the Niagara movement, an African American protest group of scholars and professionals. Du Bois founded and edited the Moon (1906) and the Horizon (1907-1910) as organs for the Niagara movement. In 1909 Du Bois was among the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and from 1910 to 1934 served it as director of publicity and research, a member of the board of directors, and editor of the Crisis, its monthly magazine.

In the Crisis, Du Bois directed a constant stream of agitation--often bitter and sarcastic--at white Americans while serving as a source of information and pride to African Americans. The magazine always published young African American writers. Racial protest during the decade following World War I focused on securing anti-lynching legislation. During this period the NAACP was the leading protest organization and Du Bois its leading figure.

In 1934 Du Bois resigned from the NAACP board and from the Crisis because of his new advocacy of an African American nationalist strategy: African American controlled institutions, schools, and economic cooperatives. This approach opposed the NAACP's commitment to integration. However, he returned to the NAACP as director of special research from 1944 to 1948. During this period he was active in placing the grievances of African Americans before the United Nations, serving as a consultant to the UN founding convention (1945) and writing the famous "An Appeal to the World" (1947).

Du Bois was a member of the Socialist party from 1910 to 1912 and always considered himself a Socialist. In 1948 he was cochairman of the Council on African Affairs; in 1949 he attended the New York, Paris, and Moscow peace congresses; in 1950 he served as chairman of the Peace Information Center and ran for the U.S. Senate on the American Labor party ticket in New York. In 1950-1951 Du Bois was tried and acquitted as an agent of a foreign power in one of the most ludicrous actions ever taken by the American government. Du Bois traveled widely throughout Russia and China in 1958-1959 and in 1961 joined the Communist party of the United States. He also took up residence in Ghana, Africa, in 1961.

Pan-Africanism

Du Bois was also active in behalf of pan-Africanism and concerned with the conditions of people of African descent wherever they lived. In 1900 he attended the First Pan-African Conference held in London, was elected a vice president, and wrote the "Address to the Nations of the World." The Niagara movement included a "pan-African department." In 1911 Du Bois attended the First Universal Races Congress in London along with black intellectuals from Africa and the West Indies.

Du Bois organized a series of pan-African congresses around the world, in 1919, 1921, 1923, and 1927. The delegations comprised intellectuals from Africa, the West Indies, and the United States. Though resolutions condemning colonialism and calling for alleviation of the oppression of Africans were passed, little concrete action was taken. The Fifth Congress (1945, Manchester, England) elected Du Bois as chairman, but the power was clearly in the hands of younger activists, such as George Padmore and Kwame Nkrumah, who later became significant in the independence movements of their respective countries. Du Bois's final pan-African gesture was to take up citizenship in Ghana in 1961 at the request of President Kwame Nkrumah and to begin work as director of the Encyclopedia Africana.

As Scholar

Du Bois's most lasting contribution is his writing. As poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, sociologist, historian, and journalist, he wrote 21 books, edited 15 more, and published over 100 essays and articles. Only a few of his most significant works will be mentioned here.

From 1897 to 1910 Du Bois served as professor of economics and history at Atlanta University, where he organized conferences titled the Atlanta University Studies of the Negro Problem and edited or co-edited 16 of the annual publications, on such topics as The Negro in Business (1899), The Negro Artisan (1902), The Negro Church (1903), Economic Cooperation among Negro Americans (1907), and The Negro American Family (1908). Other significant publications were The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches (1903), one of the outstanding collections of essays in American letters, and John Brown (1909), a sympathetic portrayal published in the American Crisis Biographies series.

Du Bois also wrote two novels, The Quest of the Silver Fleece (1911) and Dark Princess: A Romance (1928); a book of essays and poetry, Darkwater: Voices from within the Veil (1920); and two histories of black people, The Negro (1915) and The Gift of Black Folk: Negroes in the Making of America (1924).

From 1934 to 1944 Du Bois was chairman of the department of sociology at Atlanta University. In 1940 he founded Phylon, a social science quarterly. Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880 (1935), perhaps his most significant historical work, details the role of African Americans in American society, specifically during the Reconstruction period. The book was criticized for its use of Marxist concepts and for its attacks on the racist character of much of American historiography. However, it remains the best single source on its subject.

Black Folk, Then and Now (1939) is an elaboration of the history of black people in Africa and the New World. Color and Democracy: Colonies and Peace (1945) is a brief call for the granting of independence to Africans, and The World and Africa: An Inquiry into the Part Which Africa Has Played in World History (1947; enlarged ed. 1965) is a major work anticipating many later scholarly conclusions regarding the significance and complexity of African history and culture. A trilogy of novels, collectively entitled The Black Flame (1957, 1959, 1961), and a selection of his writings, An ABC of Color (1963), are also worthy.

Du Bois received many honorary degrees, was a fellow and life member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. He was the outstanding African American intellectual of his period in America.

Du Bois died in Ghana on Aug. 27, 1963, on the eve of the civil rights march in Washington, D.C. He was given a state funeral, at which Kwame Nkrumah remarked that he was "a phenomenon."


Source: NAACP

A Moment in History-Lewis Howard Latimer
Category: Black Men Rock!
Tags: lewis latimer history electricity word life production feature weekly blog black men rock

Lewis Howard Latimer was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, on September 4, 1848, to parents who had fled slavery. Latimer learned the art of mechanical drawing while working at a patent firm. Over the course of his career as a draftsman, Latimer worked closely with Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, in addition to designing his own inventions. He died in Flushing, Queens, New York, on December 11, 1928.

Early Life and Family

Inventor and engineer Lewis Howard Latimer was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, on September 4, 1848. Latimer was the youngest of four children born to George and Rebecca Latimer, who had escaped from slavery in Virginia six years before his birth. Captured in Boston and brought to trial as a fugitive, George Latimer was defended by abolitionists Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. He was eventually able to purchase his freedom, with the help of a local minister, and began raising a family with Rebecca in nearby Chelsea. George disappeared shortly after the Dred Scott decision in 1857, possibly fearing a return to slavery and the South.

Helping to Patent the Telephone & Light Bulb

After his father's departure, Lewis Latimer worked to help support his mother and family. In 1864, at the age of 16, Latimer lied about his age in order to enlist in the United States Navy during the Civil War. Returning to Boston after an honorable discharge, he accepted a menial position at the Crosby and Gould patent law office. He taught himself mechanical drawing and drafting by observing the work of draftsmen at the firm. Recognizing Latimer's talent and promise, the firm partners promoted him from office boy to draftsman. In addition to assisting others, Latimer designed a number of his own inventions, including an improved railroad car bathroom and an early air conditioning unit.

Latimer's talents were well-matched to the post-Civil War period, which saw a large number of scientific and engineering breakthroughs. Latimer was directly involved with one of these inventions: the telephone. Working with Alexander Graham Bell, Latimer helped draft the patent for Bell's design of the telephone. He was also involved in the field of incandescet lighting, a particularly competitive field, working for Hiram Maxim and Thomas Edison.

Latimer's deep knowledge of both patents and electrical engineering made Latimer an indispensible partner to Edison as he promoted and defended his light bulb design. In 1890, Latimer published a book entitled Incandescent Electric Lighting: A Practical Description of the Edison System. He continued to work as a patent consultant until 1922.

Personal Life and Death

Latimer married Mary Wilson in 1873, and they had two daughters together. The Latimers were active members of the Unitarian Church and Lewis Latimer was consistently involved in Civil War veterans groups, including the Grand Army of the Republic. In addition to his drafting skills, Latimer enjoyed other creative pastimes, including playing the flute and writing poetry and plays. In his spare time, he taught mechanical drawing and English to recent immigrants at the Henry Street Settlement in New York.

Lewis Howard Latimer died on December 11, 1928, in Flushing, Queens, New York. His wife, Mary,

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The Isley Brothers are one of the longest running bands in Music history Tags: isley brothers music history word life production music hall fame feature blog

From the Fifties onward, the Isley Brothers have been a musical institution whose prolific career has explored the musical intersection of gospel, R&B, rock, soul, funk and disco. Having been a family-based group since their inception, the Isley Brothers originated with four gospel-singing brothers: Ronald, o’Kelly, Rudolph and Vernon (the last of whom was killed in a bike accident in 1955). The three surviving brothers left their hometown of Cincinnati in 1957 for New York City, where they recorded several songs for small labels. Their breakthrough came with their fervent recording of “Shout,” an original inspired by a line from Jackie Wilson’s “Lonely Teardrops” and shot through with raucous, gospel-style testifying.

The period 1959-1962 was a creatively fruitful one for the Isleys that yielded such staples of the rock and soul canon as “Respectable” (later a hit for the Outsiders), “Nobody But Me” (recut in a Top 10 version by the Human Beinz) and “Twist and Shout” (an enduring R&B classic recorded by the Beatles and played by countless cover bands). Throughout the Sixties, the Isleys recorded for a variety of labels, including RCA, Atlantic, Scepter/Wand, United Artists, their own T-Neck and Motown’s Tamla subsidiary. Their brief stay at the latter yielded the melodic soul classic “This Old Heart of Mine,” written and produced by the Motown production team of Holland-Dozier-Holland. As a historical footnote, a pre-psychedelic Jimi Hendrix played guitar for the Isley Brothers in 1964, and his style can be heard in the playing of younger brother Ernie Isley, who joined the group at the end of the decade.

The Isley Brothers took business matters into their own hands in 1969 by re-establishing their own label, T-Neck (named for their home base of Teaneck, New Jersey). The group also expanded its lineup with the addition of three younger family members: brothers Ernie and Marvin and cousin Chris Jasper. The new arrangement immediately yielded the biggest hit of their career, “It’s Your Thing,” which won a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance. This marked the start of a period in which they dominated the black-music realm, placing a staggering 50 singles on the R&B chart between 1969 and 1988.

Throughout the Seventies, the Isley Brothers’ rock-disco fusion – driven by a propulsive beat, Ernie Isley’s snaky funk guitar lines and the smooth, sinuous vocal blend of the three elder Isleys – generated considerable crossover appeal. The Isleys took the novel approach of giving a hardcore R&B treatment to rock songs such as Seals and Crofts’ “Summer Breeze” and Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With.” The group also connected with originals such as the unrelenting, funky “Fight the Power,” “The Pride,” “Take Me to the Next Phase” and “I Wanna Be With You” – all of them Number One R&B hits. On the quieter side, the Isleys recorded a number of sexy, seductive ballads such as “Don’t Say Goodnight (It’s Time for Love)” and “Between the Sheets.”

The mid-Eighties brought changes to the Isley Brothers’ platinum empire. The younger band members struck out on their own as Isley-Jasper-Isley in 1984. Two years later, o'Kelly suffered a fatal heart attack. Remaining members Ronald and Rudolph Isley continued as a duo. In 1990, Ronald Isley returned to the charts in a Top 10 remake of “This Old Heart of Mine,” sung as a duet with Rod Stewart.”

In 1991, Ernie Isley and Marvin Isley reunited and recorded the album Tracks of Life, which was released in 1992. That same year, the Isley Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Little Richard. In 1996, they recorded Mission to Please, which became the group’s first million-selling album in 13 years, and in 2001, Ronald and Ernie recorded Eternal, which sold 2 million copies.

On June 6, 2010, Marvin Isley died of complications from his diabetes. Ronald and Ernie have continued to perform together.

Source: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

 

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