courage

Baltimore1890horsedrawnambulance
Baltimore 1890 Horsedrawn Ambulance-courtesy Google Images

It’s not always easy to figure out how to begin a post. Especially if my brain wants to think about something else, like going to the store to buy cookies (I just discovered Biscoff Lotus cookies). Or if my brain simply doesn’t want to work at all. But since the pandemic has blown up again it’s good for me to sit here and share. Between this latest virus and the riots across the world I fear for us (people). It’s difficult to see a future of joy and happiness. However, I know that we, as human beings are capable of having such a future. In life today though it seems that Blacks still have to fight the hardest to be happy. It seems that more and more Black men are being shot by police. Can this change for the better? Judging by the past I think that it can, however, it will be a mighty long process. When my father was born, 1891 and as he performed as a comedian through the Southern states of America, Blacks were  being lynched on a constant basis.

As far as pandemics go, when he was a small child in East Baltimore he lived with typhus due to the fact that there was no sewage system, especially in the poor neighborhoods. By 1890 Baltimore Harbor was a national joke. While other cities in Europe and in the United States had installed sewers Baltimore had not. Outbreaks of cholera, typhoid or other diseases occurred fairly often. City code required indoor toilets, but it was up to individual property owners to build cesspools, cisterns, or gutters. These emptied into an unfortunate stream called the Jones Falls; its polluted course ran from the wealthier to the poorer areas of town and finally into the harbor. As Eddie’s family were desperately poor this was one reason he left home at nine years old-he wanted to find a better life for himself.

Perrybradford-1200x1200-croppedI have been asked to do an essay on a Mr. Perry Bradford. Perry was born in 1893. As a vaudeville performer and composer and songwriter, he too worked in theater circuits throughout the South and into the North. I imagine that he had the same worries as every other Black man in the South at that time. But he had a goal in mind. Bradford persevered in getting the recording industry to value recordings of African-American artists. In 1957, Little Richard had a hit with Bradford’s “Keep A-Knockin'”. In 1965 he wrote his autobiography Born With the Blues. Later in 1994 his song “Crazy Blues” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Perry lived a long time, too. He died in 1970.

ArlandoSmithMore recently, there was Arlando Smith, born 1952. Arlando came up during the Civil Rights era, police with hoses and dogs and batons. He worked at becoming successful. Arlando was a TV writer and director. During my research for my book on The Jeffersons I learned about this gentleman. He worked on What’s Happening Now, All In The Family, Silver Spoons, 227, The Richard Pryor Show, She’s The Sheriff, The Robert Guillaume Show. The Jeffersons (2 episodes) and Malcolm and Eddie. He was the stage manager for All in the Family, 51st Annual Academy Awards, The Richard Pryor Show, What’s Happening, Sanford and Son, That’s My Mama, Good Times, and The Jeffersons (48 episodes). In 2015 when Arlando Cooper Smith died The San Pedro Sun reported that: “Smith was an award-winning director who directed the first episode of La Isla Bonita Telenovela. He also contributed to several American television series, Arlando Cooper Smith made the Isla Bonita his home, has selflessly supported the island in ways too numerous to count for many years. He will be missed by all those who knew and loved him.”

These gentlemen became successful in their fields despite the Race issue, despite lynchings, typhus, and lack of money. Despite hard times. You don’t hear too much about these men. Until I wrote the book about my father few people knew of his many contributions to the entertainment industry. These men were either forgotten or overshadowed. Or simply not known about because of their positions in the background as opposed to being a principal character on a program. Because of who they were-their character-and because of their courage they achieved success, friendship and love.

May we all have courage.

 

 

 

 

I LOVE YOU MAN!

Quote from Nelson Mandella:

No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

I have been wracking my brain to figure out how I could discuss the subject of police procedures if I have yet to offer any kind of solution. Talking about how heart wrenching it is to watch a person being held down with a knee till dead or being shot is just that, talk. So what can we do?

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says the city will have a moratorium on adding new names to the statewide gang member database; Los Angeles Police Commission President Eileen Decker said the department will also review the process governing use of force reviews, and will include accelerated efforts to train officers in de-escalation and crowd control; The commission will support the use of an independent prosecutor to oversee police misconduct cases, and She said the city will also support legislation for increased juvenile diversion programs. Okay gang database, use of force reviews, crowd control, overseeing police misconduct cases and legislation for increased juvenile diversion programs.  Why talk about our juveniles right now? And crowd control? what about the Knee on the Neck Issue which has led to a Black man’s death?

At least California Governor Newsome has ordered carotid hold be removed from state police training materials. Ok, this is good, hopefully it will be enforced.  However will all police forces adhere to this?

I found the Minneapolis Police Policy online which defines Neck Restraint: and Chokeholds as two separate things:  USE OF NECK RESTRAINTS AND CHOKE HOLDS

Choke Hold: Deadly force option. Defined as applying direct pressure on a person’s trachea or airway (front of the neck), blocking or obstructing the airway

Neck Restraint: Non-deadly force option. Defined as compressing one or both sides of a person’s neck with an arm or leg, without applying direct pressure to the trachea or airway (front of the neck). Only sworn employees who have received training from the MPD Training Unit are authorized to use neck restraints. The MPD authorizes two types of neck restraints: Conscious Neck Restraint and Unconscious Neck Restraint.

Conscious Neck Restraint: The subject is placed in a neck restraint with intent to control, and not to render the subject unconscious, by only applying light to moderate pressure. (04/16/12)

Unconscious Neck Restraint: The subject is placed in a neck restraint with the intention of rendering the person unconscious by applying adequate pressure. (04/16/1

Steve Karnowski of the Associated Press reported: “Minneapolis agreed Friday to ban chokeholds (my bolding) by police and to require officers to try to stop any other officers they see using improper force, in the first concrete steps to remake the city’s police department”. So, technically, this may not stop Minneapolis police from using neck restraint, in my opinion.

Why not consider teaching our old timer police officers and our new inductees how to love? Human Beings are not born with Hate. Hate grows in us. But Love is more natural to the Human soul. I have known a young man who was brought up to hate Black people, period. But at the age of about 21 he wound up with having to become familiar with a group that included Black people. He told me, and I could see it on his face, that his hatred had become uncomfortable. His upbringing had been all wrong. His feelings of hate had changed. To Love. Just plain and simple love for people, period.

No, I don’t visualize police going around hugging people. But we could institute Attitude Adjustment training. I’ve written to two presidents regarding war and the killing of Black men. I will write to Heads of Police Departments regarding police training. I imagine I will be the subject of many jokes. Hahah! Attitude Adjustment! She must be crazy!

Through no fault of my own, I have had unpleasant dealings with the police. Their approach is usually intimidating-“What are you doing in this neighborhood”?; “Let me see your pupils”!, “Get out of the car”! “What do ya mean you don’t know where he lives?!”. There is no “Good afternoon, how are you”? or “How Can I help you”? Or, can you help us? To Protect and Serve is just something painted on their cars. When I was little we used to wave at the police when they drove by. Police Mens mean business today. And they carry Power.

In the beginning humans are like the little boy in this post. They really love each other. We can help others find that within themselves again. Preserve law and order, by all means, protect citizens, but lose the battalion-like attitude.

Love and Peace, ya’ll and thanks, for stopping by.

Elva

Doris Day-Cool; But, Remember The Mills Brothers?

Welcome!!

 

UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1935: Photo of Brothers Mills, The Mills Brothers signed 1935 by each of the brothers. Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Today, watching Social Media, it has occurred to me that there are not many Black celebrities from back in the day remembered/celebrated for their many successes. The fact that I wrote my father’s biography was the best thing I could have done for his memory. People are so glad I wrote it! My father’s life story includes the fact that he sent one of his songs to a publisher in New York asking him to give it to the Mills Brothers or some such quartette. So I did a bit of research on the Mills Brothers. How many people remember the Mills Brothers? Probably a lot, but not as readily as they remember Doris Day. Maye it’s because no one talks about these Black giants of entertainment. And the Mills Brothers successes were phenomenal. The Mills Brothers made more than 2,000 recordings that sold more than 50 million copies and garnered at least three dozen gold records.

Pennsylvania Historical Marker

They became local radio stars and got their major break when Duke Ellington and his Orchestra played a date in Cincinnati and he was able to hook them up with Okeh records, the same company that recorded my father.

“Tiger Rag” became a number 1 hit on the charts. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). They were a hit on CBS in 1930–1931, particularly when they co-starred on the popular The Fleischmann’s Yeast Hour hosted by Rudy Vallee (where my father would perform 1934-1937).

In 1934, The Mills Brothers became the first African-Americans to give a command performance before British royalty. They performed at the Regal Theatre for a special audience: King George V and Queen Mary. It was during this time that they lost their brother John, Jr. and their father took over his spot.

“I’ll Be Around” became a hit, and then a disk jockey played side B and “Paper Doll”, (written by Johnny S. Black) recorded in fifteen minutes, became a hit. It sold six million copies and became the group’s biggest hit 1943. “I’m gonna buy a Paper Doll that I can call my own”.

 

They appeared in movies in the 1930s and tv programs in the 50s (The Perry Como Show, The Tonight Show, The Dean Martin Show). 

The rise of rock and roll in the early fifties did little to decrease the Mills Brothers popularity. “Glow Worm” (Johnny Mercer version) became the 5th million selling record in 1952, they had a hit in 1958 with a cover version of “Get a Job” by The Silhouettes. Their last hit was “Cab Driver”.

In 1998 the Recording Academy recognized the Mills family’s contributions to popular music when it presented Donald, as the sole surviving member, with a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Mills Brothers Hollywood Walk of Fame

These four gentlemen were HOT. For quite a while. And it gives me great pleasure to know that my father wrote a song that he thought might work for The Mills Brothers. Doris Day was cool, I memorized “Que Sera, Sera” as a child and have seen almost all of her movies; but I love listening to those Mills Brothers. (“Shine little glow worm, glimmer, glimmer”) – Johnny Mercer version.

 

Hey, thanx for stopping by 🙂

 

 

 

wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mills_Brothers#References

Google Advanced Image Search

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.