When I began writing the biography on my father, Eddie Green, I wanted to use a quote from Langston Hughes in the foreword but had to forget that idea as I could not get permission. I can, however, use a portion of an article Mr. Hughes wrote which mentioned my father. James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form called jazz poetry. Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance in New York City from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s.
In the Hughes article (not the one pictured here) he was writing about “sympathetic outlets to new Negro playwrights”. He wanted to stimulate growth of a real Negro theater. He believed that while White playwrights could be skilled or sincere they could not catch “the little graduation that give a negro life its drama.” He links the comedy stage thus: “Perhaps comedy is the pitfall of the theater. Exaggeration of racial types the overstressing of eccentricities of regional speech frequently dominate comedy especially in music halls”. He goes on to say, “Nevertheless just as out of serious plays has come a Robeson, so from the minstral vaudeville musical stage have come some very talented Negro comedians, Bert Williams, Pigmeat, Jackie Mabley, Eddie Green.” (New York Age May, 1953). Notice in the article to the left Eddie, Jackie, and Pigmeat are all listed as appearing with the sixteen Apollo Rockettes back in the early 1900s.
Here is a compilation of some of the scenes from Eddie’s movies in 1939. In a 1940 Baltimore article written by Lillian Johnson she headed the article with: As a Comedian, He’s Very Funny; As a Business Man, He’s Very Sensible and Comedy is a Business. Lillian said “The fact that Eddie is so funny on the screen, stage, and radio is due to the highly intelligent and efficient manner in which he conducts his work.”
Now that the book has been written and published I am learning who my audience is (?). Old time movie buffs, old time radio lovers, musicians, people from Baltimore (Eddie was born there, they love their history), history buffs, young people who love nostalgia, people who loved Eddie and who are so happy I wrote the book, people in the UK, people who love the blues (Eddie was a composer), people who like inspirational stories. But I am having difficulty attracting younger people, especially Blacks. Langston Hughes had this problem at one time. According to Wikipedia: “Hughes’ popularity among the younger generation of black writers varied even as his reputation increased worldwide. With the gradual advancement toward racial integration, many black writers considered his writings of black pride and its corresponding subject matter out of date.” And a lot of younger Blacks today (as young as 50 like my brother) consider Eddie’s era waaay out of date. Never mind the fact that he was successful, highly thought of, and funny.
So, these days I am searching for a way to get people to take notice of Eddie’s work ethic, his love of people and his pride as a Black man in order to promote the idea that those successful Blacks who came before us, even though they seem outmoded, added to and continue, through us, to add positive vibes to the Universe that elicit messages like this: LOVE YOUR FATHER’S WORK. HE REALLY MOVED ME WHEN I WAS ROCK BOTTOM God Bless.
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