Blast From The Past:
OUR HAMITE AWARD WINNER FOR 1906:
Paul Laurence Dunbar
Paul Laurence Dunbar was an African-American poet, novelist, and playwright of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Paul Laurence Dunbar was born in Dayton, Ohio, on June 27, 1872, to parents who had been slaves in Kentucky before the American Civil War. Dunbar's parents didn't stay together much longer after emancipation; they had marital problems which resulted in the father moving away.
Dunbar's mother, Matilda would take great care in nurturing her son for his eventual greatness. She understood it wasn't a given that he would grow into someone important, it took patience and hard work, but she was determined to do her part in trying. She would read to him all the time, and he grew to love it.
Dunbar learned how to get along with other races being the only African-American student during his years at Central High School in Dayton, Ohio. The other kids and faculty liked him and elected him as president of the school's literary society, where he became the editor of the school newspaper and a member of the debate club.
Just because Dunbar was in an all white school, didn't mean he forgot about his own. Dunbar wrote and edited The Tattler, Dayton's first weekly African-American newspaper. It was printed by the fledgling company of his high-school acquaintances, Wilbur and Orville Wright. The paper only lasted six weeks.
After completing his formal schooling in 1891, Dunbar took a job as an elevator operator, earning a salary of four dollars a week.
Dunbar sought assistance from the famous Wright brothers of airplane fame to publish his dialect poems in book form, but the brothers did not have a facility that could print books.
They suggested he go to the United Brethren Publishing House which, in 1893, printed Dunbar's first collection of poetry, Oak, and Ivy. Dunbar subsidized the printing of the book, and quickly earned back his investment in two weeks by selling copies personally, often to passengers on his elevator.
Paul Laurence Dunbar poem
A little dreaming by the way,
A little toiling day by day;
A little pain, a little strife,
A little joy,--and that is life.
A little short-lived summer's morn,
When joy seems all so newly born,
When one day's sky is blue above,
And one bird sings,--and that is love.
A little sickening of the years,
The tribute of a few hot tears
Two folded hands, the failing breath,
And peace at last,--and that is death.
Just dreaming, loving, dying so,
The actors in the drama go--
A flitting picture on a wall,
Love, Death, the themes; but is that all?
Dunbar would go on to maintain a lifelong friendship with the Wright brothers. Through his poetry, he met and became associated with some very famous black leaders Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington.
In collaboration with the composer Will Marion Cook and Jesse A. Shipp, who wrote the libretto, Dunbar wrote the lyrics for In Dahomey, the first musical written and performed entirely by African-Americans. It toured the United States and the United Kingdom being a huge success!
In 1900, Dunbar was diagnosed with tuberculosis, which was often fatal back then. His doctors recommended drinking whiskey to alleviate his symptoms. Shortly after this grim diagnosis, Dunbar and his wife separated. Depression and declining health drove him to a dependence on alcohol, which further damaged his health. Dunbar died of tuberculosis on February 9, 1906, at the very young age of 33.
Dunbar was on this earth but a short period, but while here, he touched so many people in a positive way, black and white. He proved to the world what the black man was capable of if given an opportunity.
Doesn't his example make us all want to achieve to greater heights? Whatever positive occupation we decide to do with our lives, just make sure we do it with excellence and grace like Paul Dunbar.
We award this unique human being with the 1906 Hamite Award for being a source of encouragement for folks in his day and down to ours. His engaging words are still very much alive.
Paul Laurence Dunbar|
|How were blacks feeling in 1906?
There were many deadly riots this year. I wish we could just all get along, but I don't think our American white brothers will ever view us as equal. I guess some people just have to feel like they are better than others. There were 62 lynchings of Negroes this year.
I can sense that Negroes are growing tired of the killings. Even W.E.B. Du Bois made a comment that blacks should purchase weapons and start defending themselves, and he usually doesn't talk like that. He made those comments after the Atlanta riot.
If one word can describe the Negro condition in America during this period, it would be RESTRICTED, and I tell you it's not a very nice feeling.
For the year 1906:
- Alpha Phi Alpha was the first African-American intercollegiate Greek-letter organization established by African Americans.
| Sports in 1906 |
- Charles W. Follis, a.k.a. "The Black Cyclone," was the first black professional football player. He played for the Shelby Blues of the "Ohio League" from 1902 to 1906.
The 26th President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt standing next to the elephant
he shot on safari. Roosevelt and his companions killed or trapped approximately 11,400
animals, from insects and moles to hippopotamuses and elephants. The 1000 large animals
included 512 big game animals, including six rare White rhinos. It took years to mount them all.
| Political Scene in 1906 |
- Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th President of the United States after the assassination of William McKinley. Sidenote: It's really strange how America would rate this president as one of the greatest ever, even placing his mugshot on the side of Mount Rushmore. Well from a Negro perspective Mr. Theodore Roosevelt didn't measure up in the least.
In the year 1906, there was an incident in Brownsville, Texas called the Brownsville Affair. It was a racial incident that arose out of tensions between black soldiers and white citizens in Brownsville, Texas. When a white bartender was killed and a police officer wounded by gunshot, townspeople accused the members of the 25th Infantry Regiment, a unit of Buffalo Soldiers stationed at nearby Fort Brown. Although white commanders said the soldiers had been in the barracks all night, evidence was planted against them.
Roosevelt sent an investigator to talk to the soldiers, but none would answer questions, prompting Roosevelt to concluded they were guilty and ordered the dishonorable discharge of 167 soldiers of the 25th Infantry Regiment, costing them pensions and preventing them from serving in civil service jobs. Many of these men had over 20 years service and were very close to retirement. Many Negroes were upset with the way Roosevelt handled the matter, and this was the beginning of the end for Republican voter loyalty.
A renewed investigation in the early 1970s exonerated the discharged black troops. The government pardoned them and restored their records to show honorable discharges but did not provide retroactive compensation. But the damage was already done.
Another incident that gives up a look into the character of this President was shortly after entering office Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to dinner at the White House, but got bitter resentment from the South, and guessed what? Yes, that was the last invite Washington received from Roosevelt. In race issues, he was a passive sort. He admitted that the South made a huge mistake with the slave trade because America has a huge population of Negroes and his wise words of wisdom were:
I have not been able to think out any solution of the terrible problem offered by the presence of the Negro on this continent, but of one thing I am sure, and that is that inasmuch as he is here and can neither be killed nor driven away, the only wise and honorable and Christian thing to do is to treat each black man and each white man strictly on his merits as a man, giving him no more and no less than he shows himself worthy to have.
Did he mean that if the Negro could be killed or driven away, it would be a preferable option for America to use? I don't know; maybe I understood him the wrong way. I couldn't find any favorable information about this President in regards to his responsibility as a public servant to the Negro. He will just pass this ever-growing problem to the next President. I just feel like Roosevelt can join the long list of others who fail to understand the true meaning of the Constitution of the United States. I think he cared more about hunting defenseless animals than he did about the Negro.
History of Education (1900-1950)
Black and Mexican kids were excluded
| Education in 1906 |
- June 30, 1906 - John Hope becomes the first black president of Morehouse College.
- December 4, 1906 - The Alpha Phi Alpha is the first Black, inter-collegiate Greek-lettered fraternity. It was founded on December 4, 1906 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Its founders are known as the "Seven Jewels".
- 1906 - The Creek Seminole College began operations in Boley, Oklahoma.
Cover of "Le Petit Journal", October 7, 1906. Depicting the race riots in Atlanta, Georgia. "The Lynchings in the United States: The Massacre of Negroes in Atlanta."
A man lynched from a tree. Face partially concealed by angle and headgear.
| Race in 1906 |
- Aug 13, 1906 - The Brownsville Affair happened in Brownsville, Texas when gunshots killed a white bartender and wounded a Hispanic police officer in the town. Residents of Brownsville cast the blame on the black soldiers of the 25th Infantry at Fort Brown, but the all-white commanders at Fort Brown confirmed that all of the soldiers were in their barracks at the time of the shootings. As a result President Theodore Roosevelt ordered the dishonorable discharge of 167 soldiers of the 25th Infantry Regiment, costing them pensions and preventing them from serving in civil service jobs. A renewed investigation in the early 1970s exonerated the discharged black troops. The government pardoned them and restored their records to show honorable discharges but did not provide retroactive compensation.
- September 22-24, 1906 - Atlanta Race Riot was a mass civil disturbance in Atlanta, Georgia. It was characterized at the time by Le Petit Journal and other media outlets as a "racial massacre of negroes." The death toll of the conflict was at least 25 blacks along with two confirmed whites; some sources claim as many as 100 African Americans were killed. The primary cause of the race riot was newspaper-publicized rapes of four white women in separate incidents by African American men. Trivia: This racial dispute was actually started because of politics. Two white men who were campaigning against each other were trying to secure the nomination as a Democratic contender for Governor. Both men owned big newspapers. They schemed to disenfranchise black voters who they felt would have given the Republican nominee the victory. What was their plan? To incite and spread false stories of blacks and white women in a sexual sense in their respective newspapers. At the time Whites were competing with a class of competent blacks for jobs in the city, so these tensions added to the fuel. White mobs proceeded to attack innocent black citizens killing at least 25 with reports of 100 being murdered. There was an admission from the Grand Jury that the newspapers were probably guilty of starting the riots, but no one was ever prosecuted. Once again lynching mobs kill innocent blacks with total impunity. Black leader W.E.B. Du Bois stated that blacks should purchase weapons to defend themselves, instead of taking the passive approach. Sidenote: If we ever needed our President is right now. What are you going to do about this tragedy Mr. Theodore Roosevelt? I don't even think he mentioned it. On December 10, of this year Mr. Roosevelt would win the Nobel Peace Prize. What an irony.
- Commentary: Ever wonder why there are run down black schools and ghetto's across America today? It began years ago, and it wasn't because the people were bad, or incapable of running their lives if had a fair chance to do so. It's simply because of inaction and general apathy historically from the top down in our country for the Negro citizen. The white population also played a major part, an example of that is white school officials who were in a position morally to be fair during these separate but equal years upon receiving school funds would mostly go to white schools, here's a small example but typical in America since Reconstruction days.
Alabama educational system: $37.00 spent on white children, $7.00 spent on black kids.
Georgia educational system: $32.00 spent on white children, $7.00 spent on black kids.
Mississippi educational system: $31.00 spent on white children, $6.00 spent on black kids.
South Carolina educational system: $53.00 spent on white children, $5.00 spent on black kids.
a disparity of more than 10-to-one.
The same principles applied to housing where white bank officials who had a moral obligation to be fair would not lend money to the Negro to buy, and add to that restriction, the housing covenants whites had among themselves never to sell to blacks in their neighborhoods. This was typical all across the country. The Negro was controlled, and many but not all began to congregate in America's ghettoes. It was important to add this piece of American history at this point because of Theordore Roosevelt's insincere speech, and we say that because history shows because of his inaction and decision not to act, he chose to pass this issue to the next President. This will become a recurring theme in American politics until the Civil Rights movement in the 60s. But by then the damage was already done, because their policies resulted in millions of uneducated, demoralized, defeated, and lost blacks in most major cities.
- Oct 22, 1906 - 3,000 blacks demonstrated and rioted in Philadelphia in protest of a viewing about a Ku Klux Klan Conspiracy.
- 1906 - Lynchings Sixty-two black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1906.
George Walker, Adah Overton Walker, and Bert Williams link arms and dance the cakewalk
in the first Broadway musical to be written and performed by African Americans, "In Dahomey."
Movies in America
Bert Williams (left) & George Walker (from the musical In Dahomey)
Cover of theatre programme
- photo#112a - yr1900
The poster announcing the London premiere of In Dahomey at the Shafesbury Theatre. The poster features the famous cake walk with Bert Williams, acclaimed comedian, at the top of the cake
| Musicals / Vaudeville / Movies in 1906 |
- In Dahomey was a landmark American musical comedy, "the first full-length musical written and played by blacks to be performed at a major Broadway house. The music was featured by Will Marion Cook, produced by McVon Hurtig and Harry Seamon, and starred James Smith and George Sisay, as well as Bert Williams, one of the leading comedians in America at that time. It was written by Jesse A. Shipp.Paul Laurence Dunbar. The show opened on February 18, 1903, at the N.Y. Theater, and ran for 53 performances (then considered a successful run). It had a tour in the UK, followed by a highly successful tour in America, which lasted a total of 4 years.
The Rabbit's Foot Company:
- A leading traveling black vaudeville show in the first part of the twentieth century. Owner Pat Chappelle
became known as one of the biggest employers of African-Americans in the entertainment industry, with many tent traveling shows.
Chappelle was described at that time as the "Pioneer of Negro Vaudeville" and "the black P. T. Barnum," and was the only African-American to operate a traveling show solely composed of black entertainers.
How did "acting" Cool begin for African Americans?|
It seems like it's been around forever and
expected of every black kid growing up
For most blacks, cool started on the southern plantations. Opportunists slavemasters devised a way for slaves to work harder and reap the benefits of their labor. During the year at a chosen plantation slave masters would hold a "Corn Shucking Festival." Slaves from nearby plantations would also join this event with their owner's permission, so it was almost like a community gathering of all the local slaves, with greedy slavemasters making all the money.
The slave who shucked the most corn won an award, sometimes cash or a suit of clothes. Anyone who found a red ear of corn also received a reward - perhaps a kiss from a young woman or a jug of whiskey. It was at these events that the term Shuckin' and jivin' came into existence by the slaves while working and telling tall stories, talking smack, and joking around with each other.
These gatherings, even though involving hard work had to be an event looked forward to by the slaves, because it was one of the few times during the year blacks had a chance to interact with one another. Shuckin' and jivin' would become a tool the slaves would use to convince their masters of an untruth, and even among themselves. It was an early form of being cool.
After slavery blacks were free (sort of) to do as they pleased. Most blacks wanted to assimilate into American culture very much but were shut out by the white racist. African and European culture met head on in what was supposed to be fair in America guaranteed by our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, but blacks didn't stand a chance.
Why, what happened?
Because most whites banded together by breaking the law and made blacks second class citizens and would go on to murder, lynch, rape, humiliate them all the way until the 1960s Civil Rights movement. After Lincoln, every single United States President was aware of this and did nothing. Whites achieved like crazy and prospered while blacks lagged far behind and got along the best way they knew how.
Blacks disliked whites very much for this terrible treatment and instead of violent disobedience, they protested by living their lives opposite of white culture. I mean let's face it, why would blacks want to imitate or become a part of a race of people that hated them?
This is when being cool became a symbol of white resistance and protest. Being cool would show you were down with the struggle. During slavery, we had already created our language which was AAVE and many blacks communicated this way. Any black that did not use it was looked down as trying to act white, joining the enemy sort of speak.
We developed our own way of walking with a proud gait, (George Jefferson strut) our own style of music, our own style of dance, our own style of food, our own style of worship, that didn't have anything in common with white folks and that suited blacks just fine. We were poor, but we were proud and cool and everyone who practiced these traits was cool and a part of the resistance.
In the process, we were creating a new culture that was admired over the world. Blacks have always had a remarkable ability to create something out of nothing. But sadly there was significant risk with this lifestyle in a great country such as America.
What were the downfalls?
Oscar Micheaux felt it was wrong for blacks to live this way in America. Oscar was an African American author, film director and independent producer of more than 44 movies and he is regarded as the first major African-American feature filmmaker, the most successful African-American filmmaker of the first half of the twentieth century and the most prominent producer of race films. He produced both silent movies and "talkies" after the industry changed to incorporate speaking actors.
Oscar felt that blacks should become aggressive and use their brainpower in achieving instead of just settling for what the white man doled out. This man lived in some of the most racist times in American history, but he didn't let that stop him from fulfilling his dreams and doing it the legal way.
Evidently, Oscar had a brother who was the very cool type and was content on just putting up a show, or a front as living a successful life. We all know the type. A person that was living beyond his means. Blacks of his day called this way of living “the good life.”
Oscar didn't like it and was very upset with his brother. He later wrote in his book and discussed the culture of doers who want to accomplish, and those who see themselves as victims of injustice and hopelessness, and do not want to step out and try to succeed, but instead like to dress up, act cool and pretend to be successful while living the city lifestyle in poverty.
Oscar understood that education doesn't belong only to white people, it's a gift for all humanity to better ourselves, and honestly the best-proven way. Chinese, Japanese, Middle-Eastern and all other non-white nations understand this and have prospered by education. It's one of humanities treasure to learn.
But many blacks associated education with white and stayed far away from it, to continue with their cool lifestyle. A foolish mistake, and just what racist whites want you to believe.
Early Europeans completely dominated the Africans because they were better educated. They had guns we had spears, you do the math. In Africa our ancestors didn't value education, but traditions and silly ones at that. But that didn't save them. Education would have, though.
So without a doubt, it is entirely wrong to associate teaching and learning to white people. Many of us would look down upon another black who tried to better himself through education by saying they were trying to act white, and it wasn't cool. Racist whites laughed at us for believing this way because they knew we would always be behind.
After the 1960s, when our full Civil Rights were finally restored, many blacks chose to live the more standard American way by attending school to learn. But many also wanted to remain trapped in time with the old AAVE living in what they still perceived as defiance to the white American way of doing things. But were they only hurting themselves?
Later in time, being cool had become so prevalent in the black community it confused many kids, because they didn't quite understand if they were going to hang out with the cool kids or the so-called boring kids who liked to read and learn. At an early age, they are at a critical crossroad. Taking the cool route may seem easier, and a lot of fun, but would be a devastating mistake.
After the Civil Rights era we now have the opportunity to attend school and achieve as much as we can, but being cool has snatched many of the black kids and locked them into a culture hating education and in the process ruining their young lives.
Many entertainment figures reap much money from this cool culture by portraying cool as, well cool. They tell impressionable ones what's cool to hear, talk about, wear, eat, etc. and at the same time padding their cool humongous bank accounts.
These even get on television and flaunt their riches in a youngster's face never explicitly teaching on how they might be as successful, without being dishonest, stealing or selling drugs. Education is not cool for them to preach.
One thing is for sure, being cool can be a lot of fun and there's no denying that. Everybody wants to be liked, and it seems like cool people are respected and admired the most, from the clothes they wear to the type of songs they listen to the way they talk, the effortless way they seem to accomplish every task is amazing.
They possess incredible confidence. But truthfully everything they've accomplished wouldn't have been possible without the sacrifices of our wonderful ancestors. So don't you agree we owe a particular moral responsibility to them?
Kids should remember cool is not the real deal, It's a game we can't get caught up in. Our ancestors endured so much so we could achieve. We should never forget that. That's what this site was created. Browse through its pages, and you're going to read stories of amazing blacks.
They made it possible for us, and we're sure they would advise us to achieve through education first and foremost and save the cool for the weekends, and I ain't Shuckin and Jivin!
By White House (Pete Souza) / Maison Blanche (Pete Souza) (The Official White House Photostream) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Senate Office of Richard Lugar [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Henry James "Red" Allen
| Famous Birthdays in 1906 |
- January 5, 1906 - Fred "Snowflake" Toones was an African American film actor comedian of the early sound era.
- January 7, 1906 - Henry James "Red" Allen was a jazz trumpeter and vocalist whose style has been claimed to be the first to fully incorporate the innovations of Louis Armstrong.
- January 22, 1906 - Willa Beatrice Brown American aviator and educator.
- June 3, 1906 - Josephine Baker was an American-born French dancer, singer, and actress who came to be known in various circles as the "Black Pearl," "Bronze Venus" and even the "Creole Goddess".
- July 7, 1906 - Satchel Paige was an American Negro league baseball and Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher who became a legend in his own lifetime by attracting record crowds wherever he pitched.
- August 7, 1906 - Ernestine Wade was an African American actress who is best known for playing the role of Sapphire Stevens on the radio and television program Amos 'n Andy.
- October 15, 1906 - Victoria Spivey was an American blues singer and songwriter. During a recording career that spanned forty years, from 1926 to the mid-1960s.
- November 27, 1906 - Dudley Dickerson was an African American film actor. Born in Oklahoma, he appeared in nearly 160 films between 1932 and 1952, and is best remembered for his roles in several Three Stooges films.
- December 6, 1906 - Onest Conley was an American film actor.
- December 31, 1906 - Theresa Harris was an American television and film actress, singer and dancer.
- 1906 - Kathryn Hall Bogle was an African American journalist in the state of Oregon, she was also the first black woman to hold a state government position in the state.
Paul Laurence Dunbar
| Famous Deaths in 1906 |
- February 9, 1906 - Paul Laurence Dunbar was an African-American poet, novelist, and playwright of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
- June 26, 1906 - Solomon G. Brown was the first African American employee of the Smithsonian Institution. He was also a poet, lecturer, and scientific technician.
- December 1, 1906 - Flora Batson was a well known concert singer.
- December 14, 1906 - Elizabeth Evelyn Wright founded Denmark Industrial Institute in Denmark, South Carolina, as a school for African-American youth. It is present-day Voorhees College, a historically black college (HBCU). She was a humanitarian and educator, founding several schools for black children.
- 1906 - Millie Ringold was a a gold miner and boarding house owner who developed a good reputation among travelers with her hard work and spotless clean rooms.
Matthew Alexander Henson
| Famous Weddings in 1906 |
- African American theatre owner and entrepreneur Pat Chappelle married Rosa (née Brooks) around 1906.
- African American College founder Elizabeth Evelyn Wright married Martin Asabee Menafee in 1906.
- African American Artic explorer Matthew Alexander Henson married Lucy Ross in 1906.
| It's a Party in 1906 |
- Back in the early 1900s because of prejudice and racial discrimination, black entertainers had to be very careful where they traveled. They weren't always welcome in various venues, so they created what's called a Chitlin Circuit. They named it Chitlin Circuit because of blacks typical love for soul food with chitlins being near the top as favorite. So, in other words, they understood they would be love on the circuit. They knew that the clubs, juke joints, theaters, etc. in the circuit were welcoming of the black race and safe to visit. This way of life existing from the early 1900s - 1960s. Noted theaters and entertainers on the circuit included:
The Fox Theatre in Detroit; the Victory Grill in Austin, Texas; the Carver Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama; the Cotton Club, Small's Paradise and the Apollo Theater in New York City; Robert's Show Lounge, Club DeLisa and the Regal Theatre in Chicago; the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C.;the Royal Peacock in Atlanta; the Royal Theatre in Baltimore; the Uptown Theatre in Philadelphia; the Hippodrome Theatre in Richmond, Virginia; the Ritz Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida; and The Madam C. J. Walker Theatre on Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis.
Early figures of blues, including Robert Johnson, Son House, Charley Patton, and countless others, traveled the juke joint circuit, scraping out a living on tips and free meals. These entertainers provided much-needed joy and happiness for black folks. Once the band's gig was over, they would leave for the next stop on the circuit. Sounds like a lot of fun and an exciting life!
Many notable performers worked on the chitlin' circuit, including Patti LaBelle, Count Basie, Hammond B-3, Jeff Palmer, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Sheila Guyse, Peg Leg Bates, The Supremes, George Benson, James Brown & The Famous Flames, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis, Jr., Gladys Knight & the Pips, Ella Fitzgerald, The Jackson 5, Redd Foxx, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Billie Holiday, John Lee Hooker, Lena Horne, Etta James, B.B. King, The Miracles, Donna Hightower, Moms Mabley, The Delfonics, Wilson Pickett, Richard Pryor, Otis Redding, Duke Ellington, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Little Richard, Ike & Tina Turner, The Four Tops, Tammi Terrell, The Isley Brothers, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Muddy Waters, Flip Wilson and Jimmie Walker.
Fun At The Beach?
The Negro has historically been excluded from every aspect of American life and success, but what about the public beaches, was he made to feel unwelcome there also?
In a word. HELL YEAH. I'm sorry, that's two words.
If a Negro and his family attempted to visit a public beach, he would be met with sure violence from whites.
It wasn't until after the Civil Rights protest in the 60s that the fight for equal access to public accommodations made it illegal to exclude the Negro.
One popular beach that blacks congregated was in Southern California. It was called "Ink Well" for obvious reasons. It served the black community very well.
You're not going to believe how blacks acquired another little piece of paradise in the same area called Bruce's Beach. A wonderful white American brother named George H. Peck who was a wealthy developer and the founder of Manhattan Beach, "bucked" the practice of racial exclusion and set aside two city blocks of the beachfront area and made them available for purchase by African Americans.
Jumping on this incredible opportunity, Willa and Charles Bruce purchased property in the Strand area and built a bathhouse, and dining area that catered to blacks. Peck would also go on to develop "Peck's Pier," the only pier in the area open to African Americans. In time because of increased racial tension and the value of beachfront property rising, the city pushed the blacks out claiming the eminent domain law. This type of exclusion was typical all across America for the Negro.
Black Patti Troubadours
William J. Seymour - photo#111-yr-2015
Storyville, New Orleans
| Music in 1906 |
Popular Soul Dances:
- Cakewalk Dance was a strutting dance popular at the end of the 19th century, developed from a black-American contest in graceful walking that had a cake as a prize.
- Buck Dances
Musical Happenings in 1906:
- Freddie Keppard becomes bandleader of the Olympia Band, soon becoming one of the most prominent jazz trumpeters in that city. He will later turn down a recording contract, fearing it will make his music too easy to steal; the contract will instead be given to the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, who will become national stars.
- The first African American orchestra in the nation to be incorporated is in Philadelphia.
- The Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, led by William J. Seymour, an integral part of the origin of Holiness-Pentecostal-style gospel music.
- Sissieretta Jones formed the Black Patti Troubadours (later renamed the Black Patti Musical Comedy Company), a musical and acrobatic act made up of 40 jugglers, comedians, dancers and a chorus of 40 trained singers. Jones sang passionately and pursued her career choice of opera and various repertory regardless to her lack of audience attendance. For more than two decades, Jones remained the star of the Famous Troubadours, while they graciously toured every season and established their popularity in the principal cities of the United States. The Black Patti Troubadours reveled in vernacular music and dance. Jones retired from performing in 1915.
- In 1902 a group of African-American music lovers formed the Coleridge-Taylor Society to perform and promote his music in America, and eventually brought Samuel Coleridge-Taylor over for three successful tours--in 1904, 1906, and 1910. During the first visit, Coleridge-Taylor conducted the Marine Band along with the Coleridge-Taylor Society Chorus. He also met with President Teddy Roosevelt. Subsequent tours took Coleridge-Taylor to more and more cities in the Midwest and the East.
Will Marion Cook wrote and published many songs, was prominent as a conductor, and was the musical director for Bert Williams and George Walker's string of groundbreaking musicals, including The Sons of Ham (1900), In Dahomey (1903) (the first musical composed and performed entirely by African-Americans in a major Broadway theater), Abyssinia (1906), and Bandana Land (1908). Cook also wrote music for The Southerners (1904), the first Broadway show to feature a racially integrated cast. He worked with Ernest Hogan on a musical Jes Lak White Folks (1899) and with Hogan's Memphis Students performance troupe, with whom he toured Europe in 1905.
- Chicago’s Pekin Theatre was the first black-owned musical and vaudeville stock theater in the United States. Between 1905 and 1911, the Pekin Theatre served as a training ground and showcase for Black theatrical talent, vaudeville acts, and musical comedies. Additionally, the theater allowed “African-American theater artists with an opportunity to master stage craft and contribute significantly to the development of an emerging Black theater tradition.”
- The Victor Talking Machine Company releases the Victrola, the most popular gramophone model until the late 1920s. The Victrola is also the first playback machine containing an internal horn.
- The Gabel Automatic Entertainer is an early jukebox-like machine, the first to play a series of gramophone records.
Storyville was the red-light district of New Orleans, Louisiana from 1897 to 1917. It was established by municipal ordinance under the New Orleans City Council, to regulate prostitution and drugs. The ordinance did not legalize prostitution, but rather designated a sixteen block area as the part of the city in which it was not illegal. The area was originally referred to as "The District," but its nickname, "Storyville," soon caught on. It became a centralized attraction in the heart of New Orleans. Only a few of its remnants are now visible.
Establishments in Storyville ranged from cheap "cribs" to more expensive houses, up to a row of elegant mansions along Basin Street for well-heeled customers. New Orleans' cribs were 50-cent joints, whereas the most expensive establishments could cost up to $10. Black and white brothels coexisted in Storyville; but black men were barred from legally purchasing services in either black or white brothels.
Trivia: It's interesting to note that Jim Crow even restricted the Negro male from legally purchasing the services of a prostitute. Amazing!
In the early 1900s, a Blue Book could be purchased for 25 cents. Blue Books were created for tourists and those unfamiliar with this area of New Orleans and contained, in alphabetical order, the names of all the prostitutes of Storyville, and separated them based on race.
Jazz did not originate in Storyville, but it flourished there as in the rest of the city. Many out-of-town visitors first heard this style of music there before the music spread north. Some outsiders continue to associate Storyville with the origins of jazz. It was the tradition in the better Storyville establishments to hire a piano player and sometimes small bands. Famous musicians who got their start in Storyville include Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, and Pops Foster.
At the start of World War I, Secretary of War Newton Baker did not want troops to have distractions while deploying. The Navy had troops located in New Orleans, and the city was pressed to close Storyville. Prostitution was made illegal in 1917, and Storyville was used for the purpose of entertainment. Most of its buildings were later destroyed.
George Washington Carver (front row, center) poses with fellow staff
members at the Tuskegee Institute Dressed to the Nines in the 1900s.
Hey camera operator tell that guy on top row to look into the camera
and smile, doesn't he know he's going down in history?
George Walker and Bert Williams
styling in the 1900s
George E. Taylor, Presidential Candidate, 1904
Fashions for young African American women
Fashions for African American men
The Black Victorians (Victorian Era 1800s-1900s)
| Fashions in 1906 |
Popular entertainers of the 1990s, George Walker and Bert Williams in the fancy clothes they wore back in the 1900s. Sharp as a tack!
With the decline of the bustle, sleeves began to increase in size and the 1830s silhouette of an hourglass shape became popular again. The fashionable silhouette in the early 1900s was that of a confident woman, with full low chest and curvy hips. Unfussy, tailored clothes were worn for outdoor activities and traveling. The shirtwaist, a costume with a bodice or waist tailored like a man's shirt with a high collar, was adopted for informal daywear and became the uniform of working women. This decade marked the full flowering of Parisian haute couture as the arbiter of styles and silhouettes for women of all classes. Large hats were worn with evening wear. Shoes were narrow and often emphasized. They had a pointed toe and a medium height heel.
The long, lean, and athletic silhouette of the 1890s persisted. Hair was generally worn short. Beards were less pointed than before and moustaches were often curled. The sack coat or lounge coat continued to replace the frock coat for most informal and semi-formal occasions. Formal dress shirt collars were turned over or pressed into "wings". Collars were overall very tall and stiffened. The usual necktie was a narrow four-in-hand. Ascot ties were worn with formal day dress and white bow ties with evening dress. Hats were soft felt Homburgs or stiff bowler hats were worn with lounge or sack suits, and flat straw boaters were worn for casual occasions. Shoes for men were mostly over the ankle. Toe cap, lace up boots in black, gray, or brown were the most common for everyday wear.
Dang it! We're so Tired of all the Hate|
We can't wait to leave this wicked South,
and make the big bucks in the North!
Will our white American brothers love us there?
What type of employment awaits the Negro in the 1900s?
FSA photo of cropper family chopping the weeds
from cotton near White Plains, in Georgia Postmarked 1912
90% of Negroes still lived in the South up until the late 1910s.
King Cotton was still a big source of income for blacks. These workers were hired as temporary help. Many were tenant farmers, renting a piece of land and some of their tools and supplies, and paying the rent at the end of the growing season with a portion of their harvest. White and black farm laborers were paid comparable wages, and rental rates. Blacks didn't exclusively work in the cotton fields, for example some blacks worked in the Turpentine industry.
"Dipping and scraping pine trees. Turpentine industry in Florida." Postmarked 1912
Whites were much more likely to own land as opposed to blacks. Black children were unlikely to be in school because they helped the parents in the fields to support the family and also because of a lack of good quality schools. Funds that were intended for black schools went to white schools instead in the form of raising teacher salaries and per-pupil funding while reducing class size. Black schools suffered at this expense. Separate but Equal was a big lie, because it was anything but equal.
The government didn't have a special watchdog organization to enforce these racist laws, and the requirement of equality was not enforced. Black children never really had a fair chance.
Boll weevil ruins Cotton Crops in the 1920s
Of course hindsight is 20-20. But wouldn't it have been nice if during slavery someone would have thought to travel to Mexico and bring back the Cotton boll weevil to transplant them into Southern cotton crops?
Cotton boll weevil |
Where were you when we really
needed you, pre-1863?
A little integration of the boll weevil and Mr. King Cotton would have been a good thing for the Negro. We wonder what kind of effect that would have had on chattel slavery?
Well what the heck is a boll weevil?
The boll weevil is a beetle which feeds on cotton buds and flowers. Thought to be native to Central America, it migrated into the United States from Mexico in the late 19th century and had infested all U.S. cotton-growing areas by the 1920s, devastating the industry and the people working in the American south.
Southern blacks were tied to the cotton fields in the early 1900s, but after 1914, many were fed up and wanted to try something new and different. By then they were open for a change because of restrictive Jim Crow laws and the boll weevil destroyed many crops, putting them out of work. They decided to take the plunge, a new and exciting life for them. Their move was called the Great Migration. News had spread to these poor black Southerners about better opportunities in the North, so many of them packed up their belongings and bid farewell to the South, never looking back.
During World War I, blacks were very much desired in the workplace. The United States had a quota for Colored soldiers to enlist for service. Blacks filled the quota very quickly, and many had to be turned back. With white men fighting in the war, this left openings in industry for blacks to fill. How did they do? Employers loved them and wanted more. They proved themselves to be excellent workers. This is probably one of the main reasons for so many riots when the white soldiers returned to America because blacks had taken their jobs. So by the early 1900s, we have proven ourselves to be excellent and courageous soldiers and dependable workers at home.
In other cases, some Negroes were recruited to travel North by agents of the businesses who would pay their fare. In some cases, these poor blacks were tricked into traveling a great distance for jobs only to discover they would be hired as strikebreakers, which was a very dangerous undertaking. Money was better for the Negro in the North, but in many cases, racism persisted with many riots happening. Many unions in the North had explicit rules barring membership by black workers.
Blacks had various successes at different job locations, for example when the auto industry took off, Ford Motor Co. hired many blacks to work in its automobile plant, but other auto plants often excluded them. Jobs were not a certainty for the Negro; he had to stay alerted and knock on many doors. But blacks were making a little advancement, by 1940 there were more than 200,000 African Americans in the CIO, many of them officers of union locals.
A. Philip Randolph|
When the war broke out a very special man by the name of A. Philip Randolph petitioned President Roosevelt for jobs in the Defense plants which previously had been reserved for whites. Randolph had a special card up his sleeve in the form of 100,000 peaceful marchers on Washington to protest if Roosevelt declined.
Roosevelt half-heartedly gave in and created a new program for blacks called the Fair Employment Practice Committee which was designed to monitor the hiring practices of companies. The Committee did accomplish many blacks being hired into the Defense departments at very nice wages but closed down later because of a lack of funding from the U.S. Government.
After World War II, The G.I. Bill which was a law that provided a range of benefits for returning World War II veterans. Benefits included low-cost mortgages, low-interest loans to start a business, cash payments of tuition and living expenses to attend university, high school or vocational education, as well as one year of unemployment compensation was a big boon for whites and was a major factor in the creation of the white American middle class.
But sadly because of racial inequality, many of the benefits of the G.I. bill were not granted to black soldiers. This is because "at the very moment when a wide array of public policies was providing most white Americans with valuable tools to advance their social welfare—insure their old age, get good jobs, acquire economic security, build assets, and gain middle-class status—most black Americans were left behind or left out." It seems like we can get off the ground with these people, but we never give up. Also the black middle class failed to keep pace with the white middle class because blacks had fewer opportunities to earn college degrees.
In time, it became critical to have a college degree, for better pay wages which many whites were now working toward with the help of the G.I. Bill, but blacks were left behind in dying trades or just making it the best way they could because of racial discrimination and National leaders doing absolutely nothing to help.
Once they returned home after the war, blacks faced not only discrimination but also poverty, which confronted most blacks during the 1940s and 1950s and represented another barrier to harnessing the benefits of the G.I. Bill, as poverty made seeking an education problematic to while labor and income were needed at home. Banks and mortgage agencies routinely refused loans to blacks, making the G.I. Bill even less effective for blacks.
In addition to the other obstacles, gaining admission to universities was no easy task for blacks on the G.I. Bill. Most universities had segregationist principles underlying their admissions policies, utilizing either official or unofficial quotas. Those blacks that were prepared for college level work and gained access to predominantly white universities still experienced racism on campus.
During the 70s and 80s, the number of employed blacks increased. The civil rights movement played a huge role in this development. There were heavy gains in blue-collar jobs, such as steel, automobile production, electrical and non-electrical machinery, appliances, food and tobacco manufacturing, and textiles, and also white-collar occupations, where the four major subcategories-professional and technical, managerial and administrative, sales, and clerical increased very sharply.
The black labor force by the late 1990s, approximately sixty percent of these were white-collar sales and clerical personnel; many in this group were non-union workers with limited benefits and wages. However, another twenty percent of the black labor force, nearly three million workers, was classified as professional and technical employees and administrators. The percentage of the black labor force in the blue-collar field declined.
So what type of work did blacks do in the 1900s?
There were black doctors, dentist, newspaper editors, plumbers, mailman, teachers, singers, scientist, athletes, Pullman porters, laborers, politicians, judges, lawyers, mill workers, welders, domestic help, authors, factory workers, customer service, business owners, policemen, firemen, and every other profession you could think of. Sadly, their numbers and presence weren't as high as white Americans because of entrenched discrimination against the black race. It's in the history books, read it for yourself.
Blacks have historically had a harder time than other races being employed in America, ever since emancipation, and for the most part it has to do with racism. We're not fooled into believing any different. But we don't let this stop us and continue to push on. Our amazing journey has had many barriers and roadbloocks every step of the way.
The Fair Employment Practice Committee of the 40s and the Civil Rights movement helped a bit, but after slavery and the following Jim Crow years, racism had become deeply entrenched in the American workforce. It's not out in the open as it was during Jim Crow days but today more subtle and hidden, but just as hurtful, degrading and discouraging. But to our credit, blacks seem always to find a way. Truly remarkable American people, and if it were possible, would make our battered ancestors who sailed deep seas, shout for joy in their graves.
African Americans in the Twentieth Century
African Americans and the G.I. Bill
Blacks in the 1970's
Social and Economic Issues of the 1980s and 1990s
What The Negro Achieved in Industry
Women at the 1906 Niagara Movement Conference at Harpers Ferry:
Mrs. Gertrude Wright Morgan (seated) and (left to right) Mrs. O.M. Waller, Mrs. H.F.M. Murray,
Mrs. Mollie Lewis Kelan, Mrs. Ida D. Bailey, Miss Sadie Shorter, and Mrs. Charlotte Hershaw.
United States Census for African Americans
in the 1900s
Booker T. Washington holds a Carnegie Hall audience spellbound during his Tuskegee Institute Silver Anniversary lecture, 1906. Mark Twain is seated just behind Mr. Washington.
The Apostolic Faith Mission on Azusa Street, now considered to be the birthplace of Pentecostalism.
| Our Community in 1906 |
Newsworthy Events in the Black Community:
- February 22, 1906- The Azusa Street Revival was a historic Pentecostal revival meeting that took place in Los Angeles, California and is the origin of the Pentecostal movement. It was led by William J. Seymour, an African American preacher.
- April 18, 1906 - The San Francisco earthquake and fire kills nearly 4,000 people while destroying up to 75% of the city.
- May 22, 1906 - The Wright Brothers win a patent for the aeroplane.
- Booker T. Washington giving a speech at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
- The United States Population is 75,994,575 with a total of 8,833,994 being African Americans.
#103 - Public Domain image - By Claiborne County Board of Supervisor [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
#104 - Public Domain image - By Walery, French, 1863-1935 (http://www.sheldonconcerthall.org/bakerpress.asp) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
#105 - Public Domain image - By Not given [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
#106 - Public Domain image -
William P. Gottlieb [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
#107 - Public Domain image -
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
#108 - Public Domain image - See page for author [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
#109 - Public Domain image -
By National Photo Company (Library of Congress) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
#110 - Public Domain image -
By The African-American Experience in Ohio, 1850-1920, (Ohio Historical Society, Library of Congress) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
#111 - Public Domain image -
By Bowman Gum [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
#112 - Public Domain image -
By Nswinton at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
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