Blast From The Past:
OUR HAMITE AWARD WINNER FOR 1928:
Hubert Harrison was a West Indian-American writer, orator, educator, critic, and radical socialist based in Harlem, New York. He was described by activist A. Philip Randolph as “the father of Harlem radicalism”.
An immigrant from St. Croix at the age of 17, Harrison played significant roles in the largest radical class and race movements in the United States. In 1912-14 he was the leading Black organizer in the Socialist Party of America.
Harrison was a seminal and influential thinker who encouraged the development of class consciousness among working people, positive race consciousness among Black people, agnostic atheism, secular humanism, social progressivism, and freethought.
Hubert was born to Cecilia Elizabeth Haines, a working-class woman, on Estate Concordia, St. Croix, Danish West Indies. Harrison's biological father, Adolphus Harrison, was born enslaved.
In later life, Harrison worked with many Virgin Islands-born activists. He has been particularly active in Virgin Island causes after the March 1917 U.S. purchase of the Virgin Islands, and subsequent abuses under the U.S. naval occupation of the islands.
Harrison came to New York in 1900 as a 17-year-old orphan and joined his older sister. He confronted a racial oppression unlike anything he previously knew, as only the United States had such a binary color line. In the Caribbean, social relations were more fluid. Harrison was especially “shocked” by the virulent white-supremacy typified by lynchings, which were reaching a peak in these years in the South. They were a horror that had not existed in St. Croix or other Caribbean islands.
In the beginning, Harrison worked low-paying service jobs while attending high school at night. For the rest of his life, Harrison continued to study as an autodidact. While still in high school, his intellectual gifts were recognized. He was described as a “genius” in The World, a New York daily newspaper. At age 20, he had an early letter published by the New York Times in 1903. He became an American citizen and lived in the United States the rest of his life.
In his first decade in New York, Harrison started writing letters to the editor of the New York Times on topics such as lynching, Charles Darwin's theory of Evolution and literary criticism. He also began lecturing on such subjects as the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Reconstruction.
Harrison, like Huxley, developed a lifelong, determined opposition to organized religion, remarking famously that any black man who believed Biblical material needed to have their head checked, and that he wouldn't worship a "lily white god" and "Jim Crow Jesus". He viewed the Christian Bible as a slave masters book, citing passages in it that allegedly justify slavery (slavery in the Bible).
Harrison was an early supporter of the protest philosophies of W. E. B. Du Bois and William Monroe Trotter. Particularly after the Brownsville Affair, Harrison became an outspoken critic of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, and of the Republican Party. He also criticized the prominent Black leader Booker T. Washington, whose political philosophy he considered subservient.
Despite his efforts, Socialist Party practice and positions included segregated locals in the South and racist views on Asian immigration. Harrison concluded that Socialist Party leaders, like organized labor, put the white “Race first and class after.” Harrison resigned from the Socialist Party in 1918 but was periodically referred to as a socialist by others for years afterward.
In 1915-16, Harrison decided to concentrate his work in Harlem’s Black community. He founded the “New Negro Movement,” as a race-conscious, internationalist, mass-based, radical movement for equality, justice, opportunity, and economic power. This “New Negro” movement laid the basis for the Garvey movement. It encouraged mass interest in literature and the arts and paved the way for publication of Alain Locke’s well-known The New Black eight years later.
As an intellectual, Harrison was unrivaled. His new ideas gave us a different and exciting look at the amazing possibilities of the Negro. He gave us hope to believe and seize our own destiny. He was often at odds with other black leaders of that day.
Many didn't share the same views on how to defeat racism, but that doesn't mean they were not of one accord in recognizing it needs to be eliminated. Hubert Henry Harrison had his view, and it was a view that was worth listening. We would like to honor this great man with the 1928 Hamite Award for all he did for the American black person in his short lifetime.
In his last lecture, Harrison told his listeners that he had appendicitis and would be getting surgery. Afterward, he said he would be giving another talk. He died on the operating table, at the age of 44.
|How were blacks feeling in 1928?
Early Europeans made incredible discoveries before arriving in America as immigrants. They were much more advanced than their fellow African brothers on the other side of the continent for various reasons.
Just imagine for a moment if they would have taken a different approach with their gift of knowledge after arriving in America, instead of claiming superiority over other races of peoples, and used their gift to uplift and aid their weaker counterparts.
Man equates education with hate, instead of love.
What a shame.
For the year 1928:
- Oscar Stanton De Priest was the first African-American elected to U.S. House of Representatives. (post-Reconstruction)
- Anne Brown was the first African-American woman admitted to Juilliard School in New York.
Actress Edna Mae Harris (left) on poster for Lying Lips
| Sports in 1928 |
- 1928 - Samuel L. Robinson was an African-American athlete. After getting out of military service in World WarI, Robinson got involved with professional boxing. His nickname was "Smiling Sammy" because he always had a smile on his face, a man at peace with his bitter surroundings. In the year 1928, as a complete amateur to running, Robinson got involved in a long distance race from Los Angeles to New York, it took 84 days. There were four other blacks who entered the race also. The race was nicknamed the "bunion derby." When the runners made it to Texas, is when the racist Jim Crow terrorist minded people would give the runners a bad time, but Robinson kept on going. There were many blacks along Route 66 who were cheering for him, making his heart proud I'm sure for their support. Can you imagine this memorable one-of-a-kind event in American history? Thanks Sammy. When Sammy made it to New York, he received a hero's welcome. Robinson didn't win the race, but just as almost important, he finished. Please Google this man's name to read more about his amazing accomplishments to American history.
- 1928 - Talented actress Edna Mae Harris was also an excellent swimmer, and in 1928 she entered the New York Daily News' Swimming Meet and won a championship.
- Rube Foster organized the Negro National League, the first long-lasting professional league for African-American ballplayers, which operated from 1920 to 1931. He is known as the "father of Black Baseball."
Foster adopted his longtime nickname, "Rube", as his official middle name later in life.
- Robert L. "Bob" Douglas founded the New York Renaissance basketball team. Nicknamed the "Father of Black Professional Basketball", Douglas owned and coached the Rens from 1923 to 1949, guiding them to a 2,318-381 record (.859). He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor in 1972, the first African American enshrined.
| Education in 1928 |
- 1926 - Over the first three decades of the 20th century, the funding gap between black and white schools in the South increasingly widened. NAACP studies of unequal expenditures in the mid-to-late 1920s found that Georgia spent $4.59 per year on each African-American child as opposed to $36.29 on each white child student. Analysis:This data is typical throughout history for the American Negro. The first injustice is that schooling is separate for Americans of different colors, and if you think about it, for lack of a better word, stupid. Has this been an orchestrated plan nationwide by our white American brothers to hold the black person back from improving and competing in American society? HELL YEAH. This proves that whites never doubted the Negroes ability to learn, but didn't want anything to do with another culture, educated or not. I don't even know if we could be called different cultures at this point because by now we should all claim American culture as our main. Now be totally honest. Is this an American attitude, or an Anti-American attitude? The reply by whites might be, so what! America belongs to white people. Well if that's the case you gotta change the name of America to something else, or risk being sued for false advertising in representing the Constitution of the United States.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 1st district
| Political Scene in 1928 |
- Republican John Calvin Coolidge was the 30th President of the United States (1923–1929) A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state.
Analysis: John Calvin Coolidge probably came as close in character
to Abraham Lincoln than any other President. This man had compassion, common sense and was a great motivator. He wanted all Americans to get along. At the beginning of his term, he had the blacks pumped up with his beautiful speeches, saying everything they wanted to hear. Consider one of John Calvin Coolidge's speeches:
The propaganda of prejudice and hatred which sought to keep the men of color from supporting the national cause completely failed. The black man showed himself the same kind of citizen, moved by the same kind of patriotism, as the white man. They were tempted, but not one betrayed his country. ... They came home with many decorations, and their conduct repeatedly won high commendation from both American and European commanders. ... No part of the community responded more willingly, more generously, more unqualifiedly, to the demand for extraordinary exertion, than did the members of the Negro race. Whether in the military service or in the large mobilization of industrial resources which the war required, the Negro did his part precisely as did the white man. He drew no color line when patriotism made its call upon him. He gave precisely as his white fellow citizens gave, to the limit of resources and abilities, to help the general cause. Thus the American black person established his right to the gratitude and appreciation which the Nation has been glad to accord.
Dang, almost brought tears to my eyes. Finally a president who can feel our pain!!! Mr. Coolidge was a President who knew little about Negroes and the problems they were facing. He surrounded himself with black advisors who were actually out of touch with the black community and were only interested in patronage jobs for their following. These black advisors would give him bad advice, one, in particular, was William H. Lewis, who had attended Amherst College the same time as Coolidge. Lewis told the President to 'play politics' with W.E.B. Dubois, offering him a high political position so Dubois would write favorably about him. Dubois recognized the 'political play' and declined the offer. Another example was Jay Scott who later became the most influential Afro-American political adviser to the President. During all the time he spent with Coolidge he only brought up segregation and the lynching issue a couple of times. But he did assist in getting funding Howard University and other acts that benefited blacks. But how can I put this in a way that doesn't sound ungrateful for what he did do? His help, though appreciated was mainly cosmetic. He ended up letting down many blacks. The fact that he got bad advice from questionable black leaders doesn't matter. I'm sure he got bad advice from white advisors from time to time, but he still went on to get the job done. Black voters who had voted Republican since Lincoln began to give second thoughts of remaining loyal to a party who refused to offer real concrete help and reform in a racist society. Sorry, John Calvin Coolidge. I think you were sincere, but there was not enough motivation to match your excellent speeches. I was pulling for you, but history proves that you didn't tackle Negro issues like Abe Lincoln did.
- November 6, 1928 - when Republican congressman Martin B. Madden died, Mayor Thompson selected Oscar DePriest to replace him on the ballot and he became the first African-American elected to Congress in the 20th century, representing the 1st Congressional District of Illinois as a Republican.
"It is worthy of emphasis, that the antiquity of the Negro race is beyond dispute. His brightest days were when history was an infant; and, since he early turned from God, he has found the cold face of hate and the hurtful hand of the Caucasian against him."
George Washington Williams
Dislike of black people is a relatively new phenomenon that started after the 16th century. Before this time there wasn't a thing such as racial prejudices. If color issues did arise, it was an infrequent occurrence. It's hardly mentioned in history books. For the most part, skin color was not a factor.
In fact, it's well documented how the early Greek philosophers who were all white, Socrates, Herodotus, Thales, Alexander the Great, Aristotle among others happily mingled with the blacks. Africa was known as the learning capital of the world, and many philosophers traveled to Africa to study about everything from philosophy to mathematics. Pythagoras is believed to have made it the furthest, having studied in Kemet for 23 years.
The Greek Poet Homer was one of those travelers and made the following statement:
"In ancient times the blacks were known to be so gentle to
strangers that many believed that the gods sprang from them.
Homer sings of the Ocean, father of the gods; and says that
when Jupiter wishes to take a holiday, he visits the sea,
and goes to the banquets of the blacks,--a people humble,
courteous, and devout."
Mr. Reade http://www.gutenberg.org/files/15735/15735.txt
Black people had a good reputation for being intelligent, kind and hospitable and enjoying an advanced civilization that the Greeks envied.
If alive today, Greek scholars would find it surprising how a person might believe in superiority simply because of skin color.
History makes the answer easy. After the 16th century, race became an issue for whites because of three dynamics. Greed, science, and white history (legacy).
Not to pick on white people, but it's entirely accurate they made our co-existence on this earth a race issue. This developed scorn or dislike they have for blacks continues down to our day.
- Greed The trans-Atlantic slave trade was about greed. Free black labor aided in making Europeans countries and America very rich on the backs of black slaves. This created animosity between the blacks and whites.
- Erroneous science theoriesThe introduction of false science teaching aided European and Americans in abandoning their conscience, because science didn't require one. Early Western philosophy advocated peace and treating all men with respect, but subsequent white generations did the opposite. Whites started to feel like gods themselves with their advancements in science and began to exhibit hubris, which is a Greek word denoting overconfident pride combined with arrogance. In other words, their heads became too big.
- Incomplete history recording Eurocentric history is always portrayed as the centerpiece of world history. African history was habitually erased by invading troops to eliminate its contributions and accomplishments to the world while preserving their European legacy. White history regularly portrays Africa as a wasteland full of ignorant savages, but current excavations prove the opposite. Africa was a developed continent with advanced civilizations just as good as Europe if not better.
Listed below are a few of the so-called geniuses who got the ball rolling in pitting white against black.
Not one ounce of truth could be found in what these early scientists preached as fact. Modern science doesn't agree with them. But guess what? There's still a lot of people who believe in this ridiculous white superiority crap, either conscious or unconsciously, which doesn't say much for the intelligence of these people.
Believe it or not, this is one reason a lot of whites dislike blacks today. It's not rare to hear about media services about blacks being called derogatory names associated with past world history.
So to honestly answer the question above "Why do many in America dislike black people?" At this point, it's because they want to.
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a white officer in the Union army had the task of training colored soldiers in the Civil War. He kept a diary for our enjoyment today. (click here)
George W. Williams - History of the Negro Race in America From 1619 to 1880. (click here)
Europeans Come to Western Africa -
The Characteristics of the Negro People -
Cab Calloway, who wrote a Hepster's dictionary about the language of jive.
The term 'Baby' was for a long time, a racist expression meant to "denigrate" (to criticize unfairly, to say bad things about a person or thing) African-Americans. That all changed with the advent of the hit song, I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby, (1920s) From then on the expression, 'Baby' joined many other words used to express a term of endearment.
| sLANG tALK in 1928 |
- Jive talk - harlmese speech, slang talking
- Alligator - a devotee of jazz or swing music
- Bringer-Downer - a disappointment
- Chops - refers to any musician's level of ability
- Frail - a noun for any hepster woman
- G-man - government man, especially one harasses people
- Gage - marijuana, particularly associated with Louis Armstrong
- Gate - any man, usually used as a greeting
- Hep - in the know, hip
- Hep cat - smart and knowledgeable person, also hipster
- High - happy, content, mellow
- Hoochie Coocher - hot woman who dances laying down
- Hoochie coochie - sexy dance
- Jeff - opposite of hep; unhip, uncool
- Jitterbug - a dance created in the 1920s and 1930s
- Light up - to light a stick of T or reefer
- Lid - a Prince Albert tobacco can filled to the lid
- Man! - commonly used as an interjection or for emphasis
- Mighty Mezz - an expertly rolled joint
- Mop - woman, often meaning another hepster's girlfriend
- Ofay - police
- Puff - to smoke weed
- Stick of tea - joint, reefer, left-handed cigarette
- Zoot suit - suits popular with dancers of the swing era
The Homesteader (1919) is a lost black-and-white silent race film by African American
author and filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. This is a newspaper advert for the film.
Movies in America
Actress Evelyn Preer
American film director Oscar Micheaux
Actress Rose McClendon
Adelaide Louise Hall
| Movies / Broadway in 1928 |
- Evelyn Preer was a pioneering African-American stage and screen actress and blues singer of the 1910s through the early 1930s. Preer was regarded by many as the greatest actress of her time and was known within the black community as "The First Lady of the Screen"
- 1928 - Oscar Micheaux was an African-American author, film director and independent producer of more than 44 films. The first of which was released in 1919 called The Homesteader which was met with critical and commercial success.
Trivia: Image is everything and Oscar recognized that fact. Up unto the time, he began producing movies; the black person was portrayed as lazy, low morals, thieves, dishonest savage people you couldn't trust. Well guess what? Oscar changed all of that with his movies. He put positive role models on the silver screen and finally the world was able to see the black person in their true light, as intelligent, well to do honest people, hard working, industrious human beings who loved their families. Oscar was a critical aspect of positive Negro development in this country. Are we continuing to lift the image of our people in this country today?
- 1928 - Adelaide Louise Hall starred on Broadway with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson in Blackbirds of 1928. The show became the most successful all-black show ever staged on Broadway at that time and made Hall and Bojangles into household names.
- 1926 - The Colored Players Film Corporation was an independent silent film production company based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania founded in 1926. The film company, for the most part, made silent melodramatic films that featured all African American casts. During its brief time operating, the production company released four films, including A Prince of His Race (1926), a remake of Timothy Shay Arthur’s Ten Nights in a Bar Room (1926) with an all black cast, Children of Fate (1927), and finally The Scar of Shame (1929). Of the four films the company produced only Ten Nights in a Bar Room and The Scar of Shame remain.
- African American Charles Sidney Gilpin became one of the most highly regarded actors of the 1920s. In 1920 he was the first black American to receive the Drama League of New York's annual award, as one of the ten people who had done the most that year for American theater.
- 1920s - Rose McClendon was a leading African-American Broadway actress of the 1920s. McClendon was a contemporary of Paul Robeson, Ethel Barrymore, Lynn Fontanne and Langston Hughes.
Ruth Brown performing in 2005
Eartha Mae Kitt
Fats Domino singing "Blueberry Hill" on the "Alan Freed Show" 1956
| Famous Birthdays in 1928 |
- January 17, 1928 - Eartha Mae Kitt was an American actress, singer, cabaret star, dancer, stand-up comedienne, activist and voice artist, known for her highly distinctive singing style and her 1953 recordings of "C'est Si Bon" and the enduring Christmas novelty smash "Santa Baby", which were both US Top 10 hits.
- January 30, 1928 - Ruth Brown was an American singer-songwriter and actress also known as "Queen of R&B" noted for bringing a pop music style to R&B music in a series of hit songs for Atlantic Records in the 1950.
- February 26, 1928 - Fats Domino an American pianist and singer-songwriter. Domino released five gold (million-copy-selling) records before 1955.
- March 21, 1928 - Drew Bundini Brown was an assistant trainer and cornerman of Muhammad Ali throughout the former heavyweight champion's career.
- April 4, 1928 - Maya Angelou was an American author, poet, dancer.
- September 15, 1928 - Julian Edwin "Cannonball" Adderley was a jazz alto saxophonist of the hard bop era of the 1950s and 1960s.
- October 14, 1928 - Joyce Bryant an African-American singer and actress who achieved fame in the late 1940s and early 1950s as a theater and nightclub performer. With her signature silver hair and tight mermaid dresses, she became an early African-American sex symbol, garnering such nicknames as "The Bronze Blond Bombshell", "the black Marilyn Monroe", "The Belter", and "The Voice You'll Always Remember".
- November 11, 1928 - Ernestine Anderson an American jazz and blues singer. In a career spanning more than five decades, she has recorded over 30 albums.
- December 30, 1928 - Bo Diddley was an American R&B vocalist, guitarist and songwriter.
Cassius Clay & Bundini Brown
Lewis Howard Latimer
"Harvard's best baseball player", William Clarence Matthews
Timothy Thomas Fortune
| Famous Deaths in 1928 |
- March 29, 1928 - Pompey Factor was a Black Seminole who served as a United States Army Indian Scout and received America's highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Indian Wars of the Western United States.
- April 9, 1928 – William Clarence Matthews was an early 20th-century African-American pioneer in athletics, politics and law.
- June 2, 1928 – Timothy Thomas Fortune was an orator, civil rights leader, journalist, writer, editor and publisher. He was the highly influential editor of the nation's leading black newspaper The New York Age, and was the leading economist in the black community.
- December 11,1928 - Lewis Howard Latimer was an African-American inventor and draftsman.
and had a hand in the development of the telephone, being the draftsman who drew the plans for submission to the patent office.
- 1928 - Rodolphe Desdunes was an African-American author, civic leader, and scholar.
Jelly Roll Morton
| Famous Weddings in 1928 |
- 1928 - Ragtime and early jazz pianist, bandleader and composer Jelly Roll Morton and showgirl Mabel Bertrand were wed in holy matrimony.
- 1928 - Political scientist, academic, and diplomat Ralph Bunche and Ruth Harris were wed in holy matrimony.
Cotton Club on 125th Street in New York City
Cotton Club dancer Mildred Dixon - Duke Ellington's wife
|It's a Party in 1928 |
- 1923 - the Cotton Club on 142nd St & Lenox Ave in the heart of Harlem, New York was operated by white New York gangster Owney Madden. Madden used the Cotton Club as an outlet to sell his “#1 Beer” to the prohibition crowd. Although the club was briefly closed several times in the 1920s for selling alcohol, the owners’ political connections allowed them to always reopen quickly. The club was a whites-only establishment even though it featured many of the best black entertainers of the era.
- 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 there 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.
Slaves kidnapped from their homes years ago belonged to tribes. Each tribe was as different as night and day to the next tribe.|
They each had their individual languages and customs. So upon arriving in America they had to create a way to communicate with their master and each other, so over time they developed a spanking new and unique language called African American Vernacular English, and it didn't stop there.
Each group had their defined drum beat from their tribe that was added to the new way of life in the New World but with a new American twist with musical instruments they didn't have in Africa.
So to put it simply, soul or black music is a mixture of many different African beats incorporated into a new American culture. Think about how exciting that is, if it's possible to create anything positive at all from slavery it has to be African American music. It's admired all over the world.
We all originate from the same place, so it doesn't matter if we're listening to early 1900s blues singer "Ma Rainey" or the great 1940s singers "Billie Holiday" and "Nat King Cole" down to the famous rappers of our time such as the two late greats, "Biggie Smalls" or "Tupac", it all sounds good to us because we can feel and hear that beat.
Many cultures have contributed to the American way of life such as German Americans who introduced the Christmas tree tradition, or Italian Americans with their delicious pizza, or Mexican Americans with the tacos and tasty burritos, or the English Americans with their mainstays such as baseball and apple pie. The list goes on and on, and to add to those contributions, and without a doubt, soul music has changed the American way of life, it is truly an original, and one of our many proud contributions to our home here in America.
East St Louis Toodle-Oo
W. C. Handy
Josephine Baker dancing the Charleston
at the Folies-Bergère, Paris
Thomas "Fats" Waller
| Music in 1928 |
Popular Soul Dances
- Lindy Hop
- The Black Bottom
- The Foxtrot
- Shim Sham Shimmy, Shim Sham or just Sham originally is a particular tap dance routine and is regarded as tap dance's national anthem.
Musical Happenings in 1928:
- "East St Louis Toodle-Oo" is a composition written by Duke Ellington and Bubber Miley and recorded several times by Ellington for various labels from 1926-1930 under various titles. This song was the first charting single for Duke Ellington in 1927 and was one of the main examples of his early "jungle music".
- Ethel Waters' "Do What You Did Last Night" contains the first use of the word signifyin' in a record.
- W. C. Handy stages a landmark all-African-American concert at Carnegie Hall, one of the first concerts of its kind.
- The Savoy Ballroom opens in Chicago, soon becoming the premier African-American music venue in the city.
- The Silver Leaf Quartette's "Sleep On, Mother" introduces a new technique to African-American singing quartets, in which the lead "vocalist... apart from the remaining voices, which (supply) a repeating rhythmic pattern or riff", allowing the Quartette to develop the use of nonsense syllables as a rhythmic device (the clanka-lanka technique).
- Duke Ellington's "Creole Love Call" features a "wordless solo" by Adelaide Hall, which is the first "use of the voice as an instrument" in jazz
- 1928 - The Oklahoma City Blue Devils was the premier Southwest territory jazz band in the 1920s. Originally called Billy King's Road Show, it disbanded in Oklahoma City in 1925 where Walter Page renamed it. The name Blue Devils came from the name of a gang of fence cutters operating during the early days of the American West. The Blue Devils disbanded in 1933, after which Basie recruited most of the group's members to join his group, which had begun in 1931, but then changed the name to the Count Basie Orchestra.
- 1920s - "Fats" Waller was an important contributor to the popular stride piano style.
Women's fashion in 1920s
Women's fashion in 1920s
Men's fashion in 1920s
| Fashions in 1928 |
During the 1920s, the notion of keeping up with fashion trends and expressing oneself through material goods seized middle-class Americans as never before. Purchasing new clothes, new appliances, new automobiles, new anything indicated one's level of prosperity. Being considered old-fashioned, out-of-date, or—worse yet—unable to afford stylish new products was a fate many Americans went to great lengths to avoid.
- During the Harlem Renaissance, Black America’s clothing scene took a dramatic turn from the prim and proper. African-Americans wore clothing that was far from somber. Women were dressed in wide hats garlanded with flowers, modest veils, silk stockings that were held up by garters, open-toed slippers, and the low-slung dress, possibly with a ribbon at the hip. Though the 1920s cloche, a close-fitting number usually made of felt or wool, was extremely popular for casual wear and was worn gaily pulled down over the eyes. Popular by the 1930s was the trendy beret hat with stand-up or egret feather. Men wore zoot suits which were wide-legged, high-waisted, pegged trousers, and a long coat with wide padded shoulders and lapels. They also wore wide-brimmed hats, hand-colored socks, white gloves, and velvet-collared Chesterfield coats. African Americans also expressed respect for their heritage through a style of leopard-skin coats indicating the great power of the infamous African animal.
A young Malcolm X described the zoot suit as: "a killer-diller coat with a drape shape, reet pleats and shoulders padded like a lunatic's cell".
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
United States Census for African Americans
in the 1920s
Mary McLeod Bethune
American jazz violinist Eddie South
with a conk hairdo.
| Our Community in 1928 |
Newsworthy Events in the Black Community:
- 1928 - Gaining a National reputation, Mary Bethune was invited to attend the Child Welfare Conference called by Republican President Calvin Coolidge.
- 1928 - In the 1920s, some believed the conk hairdo served as a rite of passage from adolescence into adulthood for black males. Because of the pain involved in the process, the conk represented masculinity and virility within the community. Many of the popular musicians of the early to mid 20th century, including Chuck Berry, Little Richard, James Brown, and the members of The Temptations and The Miracles, were well known for sporting the conk hairstyle.
- The United States Population is 105,710,620 with a total of 10,463,131 being African Americans.
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