Love is Inclusive

View of the crowds outside the Lafayette Theater, in Harlem, gathered for a performance by Johnny Hudgins and the Cotton Club Band, New York, 1920s. (Photo by E. Elcha Collection/Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)

Hi there. When I started this blog at the end of 2014 it was to provide a platform for myself as an author. I was writing my first book. A book about my father, Eddie Green. I have since written the book, had it published and even won an award. As Eddie died when I was 3 years old, researching the book allowed me to become acquainted with him and his life in entertainment. What I have learned is that the writing of the book did not mean that I had all of Eddie’s story.

Once people read the book they started sending me new information about Eddie. At library presentations people came up and told me stories about Eddie. I’ve been introduced to people in the magic entertainment venue because Eddie started out as a magician, and I’ve learned more new stuff. So, I started researching again. In the book I mentioned that Eddie wrote and staged a play titled Playing The Numbers. Just a couple of lines because that was all the information I had. Two weeks ago while reading an old 1920s magazine article I discovered how Eddie was presented with this opportunity.

According to the article, Frank Schiffman, general manager at the time, of the Lafayette Theater, New York, decided to remodel. On June 4, 1925 the theater hardly knew itself when the doors were thrown open for the opening. A new carpet was laid In the lobby. The entire front was scoured, revealing forgotten beauties In the exterior. A new electric lobby display was installed, new flooring was laid on the stage and the Interior repainted. A brand new pipe organ was also installed.

It was decided that Inasmuch as the management was so closely associated with the Apollo Theater which had been so successfully  operating for the past year, it was rather natural that a similar policy, somewhat modified, should be given a trial. Therefore Eddie Green who had been an Important comedian in the Apollo cast was commissioned to organize a miniature stock company that each week will present a IS-minute performance that will consist of mutual numbers and burlesque comedy bits. The bits, however, would be revised by Eddie to conform to the special requirements of the neighborhood. the Lafayette Theater reopened Thursday, June 4, with a program of continuous motion pictures and vaudeville.*

LAFAYETTF THEATRE
7th Ave. At 132nd-St.
Thur. Fri. Sat. Sun. JUNE 4-5-6,7
WM. de MILLE’S (Cecil’s brother, btw) MEN and WOMEN Produced by Paramount AND A Big Vaudeville Bill Including PLAYING THE NUMBERS Written and Staged by EDDIE GREEN With Henrietta Lovelace, Grace Smith, Eugene Pugh, Lorenzo McLane and a Chorus of CREOLE VAMPS Matinees 15c & 25c Eves. 25c, 35cf 50c
Midnight Show Every Friday Performances continuous I p.m. to 12 midnight
THE MOST ELEGANT THEATRE IN HARLEM CATERING TO THE BEST COLORED PATRONAGE

So now I know a bit more of the particulars. Frank Schiffman was also the man who fell in love with Eddie’s first movie Dress Rehearsal and made a deal to debut the movie at the Apollo Theater in April of 1939.

I have also learned a bit more about the star of the vaudeville bit, Henrietta Lovelace (sometimes spelled Loveless). I have really had to dig to get information on this lady. Unfortunately, pulling up Black entertainers names from the early 1900s from the internet is not as easy as 1, 2, 3. However, I did find this in the New York Age:

“HENRIETTA LOVELESS Of Washington, D. C, who went to New York with Irvin Miller’s Blue Moon early this season, is now on tour with Chappelle and Stinette’s Kentucky Sue. They played the Grand Theater in Chicago last week. Miss Loveless graduated from Fisk University in 1921 and studied music and voice culture under Mrs. J. A. Robinson, an Oberlin graduate. She is the wife of Lorenzo McLane, noted comedian, of Montgomery, Ala.”

Then there is this: 1924 Elmore Theater “In McLane and Loveless you will see the greatest musical comedy team that has been played in Dixie. Their comedy is clean and of the highest grade; their songs are snappy and the latest numbers. To hear Henrietta Loveless sing “Mammy Loves Her Child,” will knock one cold”, says J. A. Jackson in the Billboard; and this one: Jack’s Cabaret, on Congress St., officially opened for the summer Saturday night, beginning its 20th year as a local entertainment place. Miss Henrietta Loveless, who sings in the Sophie Tucker style, leads this year’s floor show.

Henrietta Loveless was born on August 26, 1903 in Polk County, Georgia, USA. She was an actress, known for Murder in Harlem (1935) and The Spider’s Web (1927), an Oscar Micheaux film. She died in 1934. Just before she passed away she was the star of the newest Broadway hit Swing Out The News. It was said that “the vehicle gives vent to all that it’s name implies—satire and burlesque on all present day affairs, especially The New Deal Administration. It’s swift gay, exhilarating. crisp and modern in every way. Rex Ingram, and Henrietta Loveless, playing the father and mother of Franklin D. Roosevelt Tones, the Harlem new-born son, on relief under the F. D. R. New Deal Program really steal the show.”

The play itself was supposed to celebrate the fact that there was a change a’comin for the poor and destitute of the country. And the New Deal programs did indeed put millions of Americans immediately back to work or at least helped them to survive, but thousands of blacks were thrown out of work and replaced by whites on jobs where they were paid less than the NRA’s wage minimums because some white employers considered the NRA’s minimum wage “too much money for Negroes”. However, since Blacks felt the sting of the depression’s wrath even more severely than Whites they welcomed any help. (Wikipedia) So I am going to continue to “lift” Black entertainers who persevered but seem to have been erased from history.

My father worked his butt off in order to bring himself out of the poverty into which he was born. He was talented and “a regular guy”. He got along with people. Even though he lived in one of the most dangerous periods of American history for a Black person.

And, of course, I am going to mention the White people who have been instrumental in helping their Black fellows progress. My father was a ham operator and he spoke to people all over the world. I love that!!!

Thanx, for stopping by!!

*Radio Daily, 1925

Eddie Green, The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Propelling Pioneers and Trailblazers

eddiegreenblogbannerI’m mortified. I have not posted for almost two weeks. Periodically, my depression gets the better of me, plus it’s been as high as 117 degrees where I live, so, I have isolated. When up I have focused on gaining followers to my other social media sites. This month it has been two years since the biography I wrote about my father, Eddie Green, was published. Approximately one year since I won the Foreword INDIES 2016 Bronze Book Award for the book. I set up this blog in 2014 for the specific purpose of chronicling my book writing journey and to have a “platform” as those in the know suggested.

Lafayette-Theatre-Macbeth-1936-2I began the research for the book in the late 1990s. It has all been worth it. And then some. Since the book was published I have begun getting all sorts of new information about Eddie. People have sent me never before seen pictures of Eddie. They have sent me new newspaper articles. I have heard new stories from old timers who showed up at my library presentations. I have met thee nicest, helpful, caring people. Gaining new information and meeting new people has spurred me on to further research about Eddie. The information I have found is adding up to me being able to possibly write another book. For instance, in regard to a play titled Playing The Numbers to be shown at the Lafayette Theater in New York, 1925: “Therefore Eddie Green who had been an Important comedian in the Apollo cast was commissioned to organize a miniature stock company that each week will present a 45 minute performance that will consist of musical numbers and burlesque comedy bits. The bits, however, will be revised by Eddie to conform to the special requirements of the neighborhood.” I knew Eddie had been a part of the play but now I’ve learned how big of a part he really played.

brendaleeIn order to not share too much of the new stuff here and also to phase out of sharing stories from the first book, I will be posting additional information on little known and sometimes well-known pioneers of the entertainment industry and/or pioneers of civic issues. Earlier this morning on a news site I saw “Today in History”. Out of 24 items listed, only 2 were about Black people. One item was: 1960 Fifteen-year-old Brenda Lee earns a #1 hit with “I’m Sorry”. As you can see she actually also recorded my father’s song! The SECOND item about a Black person was: 1995 Barack Obama’s “Dreams from My Father” is published. Yay!!

Lemuel_HaynesI am adding one more which kind of goes with today’s climate: Lemuel Haynes, first Black to serve as minister to a White congregation, born July 18 1753 to a White mother and an African-American father. At the age of five months, Lemuel Haynes was given over to indentured servitude. He was freed in 1774 when his indenture expired. Haynes was ordained in 1785 and settled at Hemlock Congregational Church in Torrington, Connecticut. He was the first African American ordained in the United States. On March 28, 1788, Haynes left his pastorate at Torrington to accept a call at the West Parish Church of Rutland, Vermont (now West Rutland’s United Church of Christ), where he served the mostly white congregation for 30 years. Fun Fact: Haynes himself was known to say that “he lived with the people of Rutland thirty years, and they were so sagacious that at the end of that time they found out that he was a (insert N-word here), and so turned on him”. (https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part2/2p29.html). Looking at this gentleman’s picture I can see how he could have been considered White. And, it seems as if he may have been trying to pass if it took 30 years for the congregation to realize he was a Black man.

Anyhow, the one thing I truly like about writing this blog is doing the research. Sharing it with others is my way of Cheering For Trailblazers. Thanks for joining me on this journey.

And thanks, for stopping by.

The Legendary, and Famous, Eddie Green

Well, it’s been two years since I published the biography on my father, Eddie Green. During the research period I searched and searched for a physical copy of this movie “What Goes Up“. Eddie wrote it, produced it, directed it and starred in it. The movie was made in Palisades, New Jersey in 1941. I am hoping to find it because, of course, it’s my father’s second movie and also because there is a member of the cast of this movie who has just celebrated her 101 years old birthday and she would love to see the movie one more time. She saw it when it first premiered in 1941 at the Apollo Theater in New York, of course, she and her mother. But not since then.

Last week I FINALLY found mention of the movie being shown at a theater in New York:

PLAZA
WILLIAM AT MONROE – Valerie Hobson THE SEA” Russell Hayden “RIDERS OF THE NORTHLAND” Serial, “OVERLAND MAIL”. Chapter 2
Also Eddie Green, Famous Colored Radio Star, in Featurette, “What Goes UpBuffalo NY Courier Express 1941

The Plaza was located near William and Monroe streets. 42 East 58th St. I believe this is in New York as the ad was in a New York newspaper. The ad itself is located way down in the bottom right hand corner of the newspaper. If you were not looking for it specifically, you probably would have missed it. Of course, sixty years later there is now a restaurant at that location. Still just the fact that I found mention of my father’s second movie being shown to an audience is FANTASTIC. And did you notice? The ad says he was “Famous”.

The fact that I have met so many people who are willing to take time out of their lives to participate in finding information about Eddie and getting that info to me is a great impetus for me to continue researching my father’s life. I was actually looking for news about the fact that Eddie was a magician before he became a comedian and a songwriter and a Old Time Radio star and a movie star. I may have to write a whole ‘nother book!!!

Thanks so much, for stopping by.

Book: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer

 

Kristina and Bessie – Perfection

Welcome. June is Black Music Month. In 2017 I wrote an article for an online magazine Unlikely Stories Mark V BlackArtMatters – this post uses a portion of that article.

My father, Eddie Green, wrote many songs in the early 1900s. His 1921 writings included “You Can Read My Letters, But You Sure Can’t Read My Mind,” “You’ve Got What I Like,” and “The World’s All Wrong.” Miss Sophie Tucker, known as “The Red-Hot Mama”, became interested in Eddie’s songs and commissioned special band arrangements for “The World’s All Wrong,” and “You Can Read My Letters, But You Sure Can’t Read My Mind,” she also had Eddie write a special version of “You’ve Got What I Like” for one of her performances.

Eddie collaborated with Cuney Conner, a music writer and musical director who wrote the music for “The World’s All Wrong.” The song is about a man who has been searching for his sweetheart and finds her at her dress rehearsal where she appears as a chorus girl. He tries to talk her into coming back to him but she wants nothing to do with him, until he happens to tell her that he has come into an inheritance. The upshot of the song is that it is not the world that is wrong but the people in it.

The words to the “The World’s All Wrong” can be found in the Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills, California. The Margaret Herrick Library houses a world-renowned, non-circulating reference and research collection devoted to the history and development of the motion picture as an art form and an industry. This song is included in the library’s archives because Eddie used it in one of his movies, Dress Rehearsal (1939).

Eddie’s very first song was, however, destined to become a hit, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” written in 1917, is still being recorded one hundred years later. “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” was copyrighted by Eddie on December 28, 1917. His song writing style was relevant to the times in which he was living and in 1917 the blues was becoming a major part of the music scene. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” was written in a bluesy style, probably so that it would better relate to the general public. Not being psychic, Eddie could not possibly have known to what heights this song would reach. He had written one of the Jazz standards of the Roaring 20s.

Eddie sold his song in 1918 to Pace & Handy. W. C. Handy, musician, met Harry H. Pace at the Solvent Savings Bank in Memphis. Pace was the valedictorian of his graduating class at Atlanta University and a student of W. E. B. Du Bois. By the time of their meeting, Pace had already demonstrated a strong understanding of business. He earned his reputation by recreating failing businesses. Handy liked him, and Pace later became the manager of Pace & Handy Sheet Music. His published musical works were groundbreaking because of his ethnicity, and he was among the first blacks to achieve economic success from publishing. By January 1919, Pace & Handy were advertising to supply performers with knock-out material, in the way of current songs, one of which was the 1,000,000 copy hit, sure-fire applause getter “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”

In 2017 at my book signing, my niece gave Eddie and I the great honor of singing “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” in the style of Bessie Smith. Unfortunately, I have not been able to figure out how to get Kristina’s version on this blog, but here is Bessie’s. Stay tuned for Kristina’s version and thanks, for stopping by.

 

 

 

I Stopped the Process

For those new to my blog and to refresh the memory of long time followers, I am posting a few pictures of Eddie’s entertainment life over the years. Eddie Green was my father. He died in 1950. Born in 1891. Over the years Eddie rose from poverty to prominence due to hard work, determination, talent and love for his fellow man. Eddie learned what was necessary to progress in his chosen field, starting out as a “Boy Magician”. He had a knack for comedy and he used his comedic talent to propel him along his way. And he was successful. He pulled himself up from poverty using his talents. From Vaudeville to Burlesque, to Broadway. From early radio and television to becoming the head of his own movie production studio, producing, directing, writing and starring in his own all-black cast films. From appearing in radio productions for the troops during WWII to becoming a major character on one of America’s best loved radio programs “Duffy’s Tavern“, while opening his third movie and television production studio.

While touring as a “Boy Magician” over the years Eddie added songwriting to his list of accomplishments. He wrote “A Good Man is Hard to Find” which he used in 1919 when he took his own show on tour. The show included singing, dancing girls and comedy. While in St. Louis with this show he saw an ad in the local Variety paper for a comic. Eddie sent an outstanding reply and was invited to become a part of a vaudeville show in New York. His performances here and in Burlesque working at the 125th Apollo, earned him inclusion into a hit Broadway musical Hot Chocolates by 1929.

 

 

In 1929, not only was he a part of the ensemble of Hot Chocolates, Eddie wrote all of the comedic skits for this show. His name is listed twice. The show ran for 219 performances. Two of the songs would go on to be recorded, one “Big Business” was recorded by Victor Records, and “Sending A Wire”. Sending A Wire would also be made into a Vitaphone short by Warner Bros.

 

 

 

Eventually, Eddie began appearing on the radio. Rudy Vallee introduced him to the radio audience, inviting him over and over due to audience reaction, and during the summer of 1937 Eddie was asked to join Louis Armstrong as co-hosts of the Fleischmann’s Yeast hour while Rudy was on vacation. Eddie had also appeared for a number of weeks as the featured attraction on the Sunday evening NBC “Echoes of New York” program. During the 30’s Eddie also had a “first”. He appeared as one of the very first two Black men on an RCA/NBC television broadcast-but I’m saving this for another post.

Eddie went on to become a filmmaker in 1939 making four movies Dress Rehearsal, What Goes Up, Comes Midnight and One Round Jones among other endeavors. In 1941 he joined the cast of Duffy’s Tavern where he became famous as one of America’s most beloved comedians.

When I started this blog Eddie had almost been completely forgotten. Almost. Despite his many accomplishments in the entertainment world and the business world, despite the many friends he made and how widely he became known, beside myself, there were not a lot of people remembering that old comic, Eddie Green. I have written a biography about my father. (Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer, get it on Amazon). Since I wrote the book I have had someone tell me that I stopped the process of my father being erased from history. Wow.

I mainly started the project to show my young (at the time) grandson what a person could do regardless of the obstacles life throws at us. But as I researched my father’s life I realized that his story, so full of inspirational stories, could help so many people. That his story as a Black man born in 1891 could prove to be motivational to Black people for sure, but also to anyone who feels that the odds are against them. Maybe you have someone in your family you could write about. Or you just have some inspirational stories you think might be of help  to others if they only knew about them.  You too can stop the process of someone being erased from history.

Hey, thanks, for stopping by.

Book: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer

 

Alike – Dying in Service of Our Country

This photo absolutely suits my mood in regard to Memorial Day. I would probably rather “celebrate” Veteran’s Day seeing as I intended to write a post about my father, Eddie Green, and his experience as an African American who enlisted in WWI. Then it dawned on me that Eddie was not one who died in service. I was going to talk about how Eddie was working in a theater in Philadelphia before winding up at a Chicago Training Camp. I wanted to add information about how African Americans had to tear off a piece of their Registration Card to signify their race. After I realized I needed to re-direct my idea for a post, I stumbled across an article in the Pennsylvania York Daily Record newspaper. The article was posted on this date May 27, 2018 earlier in the morning. So I have chosen to share this information instead, as it will do nicely to get my point across.

York County Afro-American veteran George A. Wood was killed in action September 29th 1918 during World War I. Private First-Class Wood is honored on the bronze memorial tablets flanking Gate 4 at the York Fairgrounds. His surname is incorrectly spelled “Woods” among the 197 York Countians honored on the World War I panels, fronting four columns, at the York County Administration Center, located at 28 East Market Street in York, PA. (Stephen H. Smith, York Daily Record, May 27, 2018.)

It seems to me that we don’t really hear enough about our Black soldiers who died defending this country. But while they were serving we sure made it clear they were not White. Even though they too died. Has anything changed?

Thanx, for stopping by.

And thank you Stephen H. Smith; York Daily Record for allowing sharing of your research efforts.

Emmett “Babe” Wallace NOT Vern Smith

I made a Major Boo-Boo on this my last post.  First of all Mr. Vern Smith, an announcer for Jubilee Radio Program was not a Black man. Second, the announcer on this particular video is not Vern Smith as I claimed-he is Emmett “Babe” Wallace. As you read on you will see that I refer to the announcer at the beginning of this video as Mr. Vern Smith. WRONG!

A friend of mine on Facebook, named Bill, sent me the link to this Jubilee Radio Program from 1944 because I sent him a picture of Ernie Whitman, Lena Horne and my father Eddie Green. He could not find a copy of a video with my father so he sent this one with Eddie “Rochester” Anderson (who was actually a good friend of our family). And he introduced me to the announcer at the beginning of this video as Mr. Vern Smith. WRONG!!

The announcer at the beginning of this video was in fact Emmett “Babe” Wallace. According to Jimy Bleu an IMDB biographer, “as an actor, Babe is among the early pioneers of Black Cinema, starring in numerous films alongside some of the finest names in the industry. His career took flight, when in 1943 he co-starred in the 20th Century Fox classic Stormy Weather with Lena Horne and Bill Robinson. He went on to perform in stage musicals such as Anna Lucasta  in London during 1947,  Les Folies Bergere  in Paris during 1952 (appearing as the first Black male star), and Guys and Dolls on Broadway during 1976, with Robert Guillaume and James Randolph. In 1989, he was presented the prestigious Paul Robeson Award by the Black American Cinema Society, along with Marla Gibbs.

Babe is a prolific songwriter, poet and novelist, who has some of his works included in the Schomburg Research Center for Black Culture. Of his thousands of songs, some have been recorded by Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald and Cab Calloway. In 1999, Burger King franchise featured one of his songs “A Chicken Ain’t Nothin But A Bird” in their TV/radio ad campaign.”

Babe Wallace died in 2006.

I did find a Vernon Smith who announced the Ozzie and Harriet radio and television show, who also announced some of the Jubilee Radio Programs.

I claim to believe in finding something out about people I write about, however, in this instance I did not. I wrote about something of which I had no knowledge. I apologize for this and I will make sure to properly research next time.

AFRS Jubilee Radio Program was a show that was an all-Black broadcast of music and comedy skits sent to the Black American forces serving in WWII.  Here’s a visual record of the opening of Jubilee.….You’ll see and hear (first) Vern Smith (NO you won’t, you’ll hear Emmett “Babe” Wallace) then Ernie Whitman………and two other familiar folks. I hope you like “Rochester”‘s singing!! Thanx for stopping by 🙂

Smiling & Twirling & Laughing & Caring

I like to think I am like my father. He was a happy man. He had a great smile. He loved to make people laugh. He was a good friend, with a helpful attitude. And he liked people, period. He was a family man, too. He was married 4 times. Had two daughters, one in 1911 and then me in the 40s. He told the Brooklyn Eagle in 1939 that “the depression doesn’t worry him. He’s happily married (3rd wife), Daughter Hilda is grown up and starting to follow him in show business. He’s got his work, his radio to tinker with and he’s the proud possessor of the first television set in Harlem.” At the time of this interview he was appearing in Mike Todd’s Hot Mikado. As Koko he sang “Titwillow” (Stars Over Broadway, Star Tone (M) ST 214 (Eddie Green with orchestra conducted by William Parson) The Brooklyn Eagle article said he had a “perpetual beaming smile.”

In a 1939 Press Sheet it was said that “Eddie Green still remains one of the greatest of all funny men. He has an irresistible sense of humor and he can squeeze a laugh from the sourest puss in the country!” When making his movies Eddie said that he builds his stories around incidents that are interesting, never offensive. He also said that when working on the radio show Duffy’s Tavern, “It’s grand, working with this show. The informality of it, the tavern setting and the lines which I never have to worry about, turns work into play.”

The Billboard spoke about him in a 1920 article in regard to having a helpful attitude: Eddie sent a note to The Billboard letting them know that if “the boys playing this town (New York) and having a hard time getting rooms they could stop at the Hotel Francis directly opposite the New York City Depot.” The Billboard said his not was an illustration of the many services to one another that actors may accomplish through their news page.

He and my mother were only married for five years and of that marriage I never heard any bad things about my father from my mother. She seemed to have been proud to have been married to him. Eddie was a comedian and as I grew up I always told my mother (whenever I thought I had said something funny) that I was my father’s daughter.  I find that most people  just want to be happy.  And they want to be acknowledged. I like to acknowledge people. It makes me smile to see another person realize they have been heard.

I am a family person, also. My siblings are like parts of my person. This past week I had the chance to see a nephew that I had not seen in over 10 years. He’s not little anymore. He’s grown up (about 6′ 5″, maybe more-so tall!!!). He’s a grown man. I cannot believe how happy it made me to see him. He visited from New Mexico. I have family all over the United States. Some of us have never met in person. I am “working on” putting together a family calendar. I wish I could hug them all at the same time. I LOVE my family. They totally make me smile.

I am working very hard on paying attention to what makes my happy, what makes me smile. There are so many unhappy people in the world today. So many reasons to be unhappy. So much unrest. I am going to try and take how I felt about seeing my nephew (I felt like twirling around in the restaurant!!!) and spread it around.

Thanx for stopping by and for helping to keep a smile on my face. 🙂

 

We Are, Each One, Absolutely Unique

Ralph Wilhelm Cooper, 1908-1992. Actor, dancer, screen writer, emcee, choreographer (Shirley Temple-Poor Little Rich Girl). Ralph Cooper spent five years acting and directing in Hollywood and while there folks began calling him the “Dark Gable” because of his “handsome, rugged good looks and his charm and wit”. * I would like to say instead of giving him a nickname that reminds people of a White man, can we just say that this man was Ralph Cooper, a handsome, charming Black man who was very active in the world of entertainment in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. And beyond.

 

Like my father, Eddie Green, Cooper was also a filmmaker. Meaning he wrote, directed and starred in his own movies. In the late 1930s he was making movies during Oscar Micheaux’s filmmaking time (Micheaux began making films in 1915). He wrote, directed, produced or starred in at least fifteen films. My father began making his films in 1939, right about the time Cooper left filmmaking. In 1937, Cooper formed Million Dollar Productions with black actor George Randol and white producers Harry Popkin and his brother Leo Popkin to produce race films.

And that’s not all. Ralph Cooper was a founder and emcee of the legendary Amateur Night at the Apollo Theatre in 1935. ** He worked as a human rights arbitrator under New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller in the ’60s. And in 1984 was a consultant on the movie The Cotton Club, with Gregory Hines and Richard Gere.

Ralph and my father appeared on the same bill during those early days; their names are kind of close to the bottom of the ad as they had not “blown up” yet. But they must have met backstage. Maybe Eddie talked to him about making movies someday. Both Eddie and Ralph were successful in their chosen pursuits. Through their own talent and hard work. When it was truly a struggle for a Black man to get ahead. I salute my father and Ralph Cooper and their own special uniqueness in bringing a little entertainment into the lives of others.

 

 

 

I am looking forward to using my blog as a place to be a cheerleader for the trailblazers who deserve to be remembered for their unique contributions to Life.

Thank you so much, for stopping by.

*MsLadySoul  **Margot Miflin, 1990

My Book: Eddie Green, The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer

Sitting While Black

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (December 25, 1745 – June 10, 1799) was a champion fencer, classical composer, virtuoso violinist, and conductor of the leading symphony orchestra in Paris. Born in Guadeloupe, he was the son of George Bologne de Saint-Georges, a wealthy planter, and Nanon, his African slave. During the French Revolution, Saint-Georges was colonel of the Légion St.-Georges, the first all-black regiment in Europe, fighting on the side of the Republic. Today the Chevalier de Saint-Georges is best remembered as the first classical composer of African ancestry.

How many people know about this man. In regard to classical music somehow I learned about Mozart, Beethoven, (bugs bunny cartoons, Disney movies, documentaries.) But not this guy. Some scholars call him the Black Mozart, except that he was born 10 years before Mozart and after they met Mozart was said to have echoed a few of Joseph’s bars.

When I went to school I learned a lot about White inventors, musicians (we sang Oklahoma in Glee Club), presidents, television stars. But very little about important Blacks. Well, there was George Washington Carver. But all we learned was that he had something to do with peanuts. We did not learn about the numerous honors he won for his work or that in an era of very high racial polarization, his fame reached beyond the black community.

Seems we heard a lot about Nat Turner though, the guy who led that slave rebellion. According to some scholars, the stereotype of African Americans males as criminals was first constructed as a tool to “discipline” and control slaves during the time of slavery in the United States. More recently , a study examining the news reports from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today covering the effects of Hurricane Katrina showed that in 80% of the time black evacuees were portrayed in photographs, the word “looting” was mentioned in the captions, suggesting that the black evacuees were criminals. In America we have had the good actions of White people and the emphasis on bad actions of Blacks ingrained into our psyche. Blacks were not celebrated in our education. So I don’t believe in unconscious bias. That we make snap judgments about people and situations based on who we are, how we live, and how we were raised, yes, but it’s not unconscious.  I believe we act from ingrained teachings.

The idea that Black men are dangerous exists today. Still. Sitting While Black is the hashtag on Twitter.

It’s sad that this is happening in 2018. My father lived during the early 1900s when Blacks were still being lynched in large numbers. One of the bloodiest race riots in the nation’s history took place in East St. Louis. A Congressional committee reported that 40 to 200 people were killed, hundreds more injured, and 6,000 driven from their home. Fifty-three black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1920. Eddie was in St. Louis in 1919-1920. He performed at the Booker Washington Theatre (a Black vaudeville house) with his Deluxe Players, he had been called back by popular demand. In those days he sang his own songs, danced and told “side-splitting” jokes. I’m sure he saw his share of horrors.

By the 1940s Eddie was appearing in the radio program Duffy’s Tavern. Things in America had progressed enough that The Library of Congress placed Duffy’s Tavern on the Honor Role of Race Relations, because they did not have Eddie resort to stereotypical “Black” language. They said “Green clicks as a waiter, not because he’s a Negro, but because he’s a good comedian.” So, it is clear in this instance that changing how Blacks were treated was a priority.

I wonder what he would think about two Black men being arrested because they were sitting in a Starbucks and asked to use the restroom but didn’t buy anything and wouldn’t leave because they were waiting for a third party. I mean we have not gone back to lynching but it certainly seems that we have at least gone back to the 50s or 60s. Some people today still see Black men as trouble-makers. I don’t think that providing unconscious bias training is going to change that mind set. I think something has to change within the person. Maybe as more time goes by people will be able to just see each other as fellow human beings, floating around in space on a friggin’ planet.

Hey, thank you so much for stopping by. Peace and Love

Check out my Book: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer.