Respect Will Mitigate Chaos

Welcome. Thank you for visiting my Blog about my father, Eddie Green, and other stories of inspiration. Welcome to my new friends.  I’ve been posting here since 2014 and it has been a wonderful experience on line. Unlike other social media sites, I get to say whatever I want without having to expect “backlash”. I voiced my opinion on a question once on Twitter and I got so many mean responses I almost quit the site. But I realized it was not me or my thinking, just a lot of trolls. I have  good social media connections now and I love it. 

Life on planet Earth can be troublesome. These days, in America, is seems much more dangerous than in the past. So much anger and depression. Recently I received 2 messages from fans of my father who discovered my book and love the fact that I have shared my father’s life for their enjoyment. I received such positive compliments regarding the good that has come through my book, that I got this idea of a post for today. My father grew up and became successful during a truly dangerous period for Black Americans. Eddie was able to flourish even in this environment because Eddie was a nice guy. He was dependable, helpful, willing, well-read, respectful, hard-working and easy-going. He was kind and able to get along with anybody. He liked people. And he made them laugh. I believe we can have a sweeter life if we strive to show more concern and courtesy to our neighbors. As an example, here is an item from the Billboard from 1920:

“Help Everybody by Distributing Useful Information
The following letter from Eddie (Simp) Green, (he dropped the nickname by 1924) who is with Barney Gerard’s “Girls De Looks.” burlesque show is beyond doubt the most unselfish communication that has come to us since the department has been started. His little note Is an illustration of the many services to one another that actors may accomplish thru the instrumentality of this page. The letter:

Buffalo, N. Y., Nov. 9. Jack—Just a line to tell you that the boys playing this town find it so hard to get rooms that I think it would benefit all of them greatly if you would say  in your notes that when they play Buffalo the most convenient place to stop is the Hotel
Francis  directly opposite the New York City Depot. We re here this week and the show is a “riot as usual.” at the Gayety Theater.

Yours respectfully, EDDIE GREEN

(Editor’s Note—Eddie Green writes something besides letters.  He wrote “A Good Man is Hard To Find,” “Don’t Let No One Man Worry Your Mind,” “You Can’t Keep a Good Girl Down,” “Algiers” and the “Blind Man’s Blues”. He also has written himself into the class of regular fellows with the above letter. Billboard December 4, 1920

Tulsa Race Riot 1921

It must have been very difficult to think of others and to be funny to boot. Life in those days was rough.  While Eddie was at the Gayety in Dec. of 1920 trouble was brewing in St. Louis. The upheaval associated with the transition from a wartime to peacetime economy contributed to a depression in 1920 and 1921. The Tulsa Race Riot took place on May 31st and June 1st of 1921. The attack, carried out on the ground and by air, destroyed more than 35 blocks of the district, at the time the wealthiest black community in the United States. It began over a supposed assault of a White woman by a Black man. A group of armed black men rushed to the police station where the suspect was held; there they encountered a crowd of white men and women. A confrontation developed, (Picture courtesy of The Library of Congress)

How does one stay on point and continue to get along with whoever they encounter and also continue to progress in the business of being a comic. The good news is: In 1996, seventy-five years after the riot, a bi-partisan group in the state legislature authorized formation of the Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, searching for truth and honesty and respect. Members were appointed to investigate events, interview survivors, hear testimony from the public, and prepare a report of events. There was an effort toward public education about these events through the process. The Commission’s final report, published in 2001, said that the city had conspired with the mob of white citizens against black citizens; it recommended a program of reparations to survivors and their descendants. The state passed legislation to establish some scholarships for descendants of survivors, encourage economic development of Greenwood, and develop a memorial park in Tulsa to the riot victims. Buck Franklin is best known for defending African-American survivors of the 1921 Tulsa race riot, On October 27, 2010, the City of Tulsa renamed Reconciliation Park, established to commemorate the victims of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, as John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park in his honor.The park was dedicated in 2010.

 

Then there is this little item written by Gilbert Swan, of the Saratoga Springs, NY Saratogian “Sidelights of New York”, Jan 27, 1930: “Up to Harlem for a gay party in connection with the opening of the latest swanky way-up-town resort: the Plantation Club. And Eddie Green, the comic, doing an Ad Lib song about the columnists present with a verse about my modest self. . . . Which Is the first time it ever happened and left me trying to hide under my stiff choker”.

Regarding that party, about a month after Eddie’s appearance at this all-White club there was a break-in as per this article:

“THUGS INVADE PLANTATION CLUB New York, Jan. 17 — (UP) — Casting aside the usual method of intimidation and assault, a band of racketeers used pickaxes and crowbars to put Harlem’s newest night club, the Plantation club, out of business. The club was invaded yesterday by ten men who destroyed the furnishings, dance floor, costumes and electrical equipment”.  The Daily Argus, Jan. 1930

 

America was a dangerous place in those days. For a lot of people. And dangerous today. But men like Eddie and Buck  were here to show us how to thrive amid chaos. How we can strive to write ourselves into what the Billboard termed as “the class of regular fellows”. We have the ability to foster a kinder world.

Hey, thanx-for stopping by 🙂

Peace & Love

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

 

Advertisements

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.