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Today is National Tap Dance Day in honor of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, who was born Luther Robinson in Richmond, Virginia, on May 25, 1878. His father, Maxwell, worked in a machine shop, while his mother, Maria, was a choir singer. After both of his parents died in 1885, Robinson was raised by his grandmother, Bedilia, who had been a slave earlier in her life. According to Robinson, he used physical force to compel his brother, Bill, to switch names with him, since he did not care for his given name of Luther. Additionally, as a young man, he earned the nickname “Bojangles” for his contentious tendencies.

At the age of 5, Robinson began dancing for a living, performing in local beer gardens. In 1886, at the age of 9, he joined Mayme Remington’s touring troupe. In 1891, he joined a traveling company, later performing as a vaudeville act. He achieved great success as a nightclub and musical-comedy performer. At this stage of his career, he performed almost exclusively in black theaters before black audiences.

In 1908, Robinson met Marty Forkins, who became his manager. Forkins urged Robinson to develop his solo act in nightclubs. Robinson took a break from performance to serve as a rifleman in World War I. Along with fighting in the trenches, Robinson was also a drum major who led the regimental band up Fifth Avenue upon the regiment’s return from Europe.

In 1928, he starred on Broadway in the hugely successful musical revue Blackbirds of 1928, which featured his famous “stair dance.” Blackbirds was a revue starring African-American performers, intended for white audiences. The show was a breakthrough for Robinson. He became well known as “Bojangles,” which connoted a cheerful and happy-go-lucky demeanor for his white fans, despite the nearly polar-opposite meaning of the nickname in the black community. His catchphrase, “Everything’s copacetic,” reinforced Robinson’s sunny disposition. Although he worked regularly as an actor, Robinson was best known for his tap-dance routines. He pioneered a new form of tap, shifting from a flat-footed style to a light, swinging style that focused on elegant footwork.

Robinson’s fame withstood the decline of African-American revues. He starred in 14 Hollywood motion pictures, many of them musicals, and played multiple roles opposite the child star Shirley Temple. His film credits include Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, The Little Colonel and Stormy Weather, co-starring Lena Horne and Cab Calloway. Despite his fame, Robinson was not able to transcend the narrow range of stereotypical roles written for black actors at the time. By accepting these roles, Robinson was able to maintain steady employment and remain in the public eye. In 1939, at the age of 61, he performed in The Hot Mikado, a jazz-inspired interpretation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta. Robinson celebrated his 61st birthday publicly by dancing down 61 blocks of Broadway.

Robinson was married three times. His 1907 marriage to Lena Chase ended in 1922. He married his second wife, Fannie S. Clay, in 1922. Clay served as her husband’s manager and assisted him in founding the Negro Actors Guild of America, which advocated for the rights of African-American performers. Clay and Robinson divorced in 1943. In 1944, he married Elaine Plaines. Robinson and Plaines were together until Robinson’s death in 1949.

Bill Robinson was involved in baseball as well as theater. In 1936, He cofounded the New York Black Yankees team, based in Harlem, with financier James Semler. The team was a part of the Negro National League until 1948, when Major League Baseball first integrated racially.

Despite earning millions during his lifetime, Robinson died poor in 1949, at the age of 71. Much of his wealth went to charities in Harlem and beyond before his death. Robinson’s funeral, arranged by longtime friend and television host Ed Sullivan, was held at the 369th Infantry Regiment Armory and attended by thousands, including many stars from the entertainment industry. A eulogy by Adam Clayton Powell Sr. (father of Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr.) was broadcast over the radio. Robinson was buried in the Cemetery of the Evergreens in Brooklyn, New York.

Robinson remained a well-known figure after his death, particularly in dance circles. In 1989, a joint congressional resolution established National Tap Dance Day on May 25, Robinson’s birthday. Additionally, a public park in Harlem bears Robinson’s name—a way of honoring his charity contributions and participation in the neighborhood’s civic life.

Sources: YouTube and biography.com

@thefullbronte “everything’s copacetic” -Clete Purcell

Immense tristesse après cette attaque terroriste à #Barcelone. Mes pensées vont aux familles et aux proches des victimes.

此時,這個悲傷的時刻,我們的心思與巴塞隆納恐攻遇難者的家屬同在。

Huge sadness after this terrorist attack in #Barcelona. My thoughts go to the families and relatives of the victims.

The Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) was founded on July 20, 1914 when The Right Excellent Marcus Garvey recruited its first member, Miss Amy Ashwood, and held the organization’s first meeting at 121 Orange Street in Kingston. The UNIA was dedicated to promoting racial pride, econo-mic self-sufficiency, and the establishment of a united and independent Africa. The organisation adopted a motto, ‘One God! One Aim! One Destiny’. This year marks 100 years since he conceptualized and launched this historic and global confraternity of the race.

We Salute Marcus Mosiah Garvey on this the 100th Anniversary of the UNIA!!

“Up you mighty race! You can accomplish what you will.”

lucilliasheyff  asked:

OMG I LOVE OLD VINATAGE DOLLS! I've always wanted to collect them since my gf adores them, but I was looking for dolls of color and let's be honest. They're either very racist, cost a fortune, or tucked away in a nice doll museum. Any good picture or references of colored dolls?

I HAVE SO MANY

(sorry this took so long for me to answer)

So yeah, most of the good dolls of color were made by high-end French doll companies and nowadays are likely to cost well over $1,000. I have a lot of conflicting Thoughts about how most of them are in rich old white people’s collections (ranging from “is it racist to be white and only have white dolls?” to “but wouldn’t it be worse to hoard non-white dolls away from collectors of color?”), but that’s probably a more complex issue than I can fully understand.

As for pictures, feast your eyes:

(French fashion doll by the Gaultier firm, 1870s)


(child doll, possibly by Jumeau? 1880s)


(child doll by the Bru firm, 1880s)


(child doll, unknown French firm, 1890s? appears to have some rubbing around her mouth, possibly from being kissed too much by her first owner)


(cloth lady doll, unknown artist, 1800s)

I can’t find any pictures, but a man named Richard Henry Boyd founded the National Negro Doll Company in Nashville in 1911. His purpose, in his own words, was to “teach the people that they may teach their children how to look upon their people. “ He also said his dolls “[were] not made of that disgraceful and humiliating type that we have been accustomed to seeing… . They represent the intelligent and refined Negro of today, rather than that type of toy that is usually given to the children, and as a rule used as a scarecrow.” 

None of his dolls are known to survive today, but they had porcelain heads probably produced in Germany and ranged from $27.07 for a 12-inch doll to $230.12 for a 36-inch model (prices adjusted for inflation).

I’ve always guessed that the French companies made better dolls of color because France’s history of imperialism in the Caribbean and Africa meant that there were many, many families of color in Paris. And somebody finally wised up to the fact that, hey, little black girls probably want black dolls that don’t look like horrible caricatures. 

There were also European-made dolls that represented Asian children, but…you really don’t want to see them. Trust me. You just don’t. They were less “let’s make dolls for Parisians of this demographic!” and more “let’s make hyper-exoticized dolls for white kids to play out Orientalist fantasies with!”

I’m assumihg you meant Western dolls of color, but I’d be happy to do another post about non-Western dolls if you like. However, I’m afraid my knowledge on the subject is regrettably lacking and would mostly come from Google searches.

Badass Black Women History Month:
Celebrating 28 Black Women Who Said,
“Fuck it, I’ll Do It!”

Day 27: Ella Baker
One Of The Most Important Leaders Of The 20th Century

Ella Baker was a civil rights and human rights activist born in Virginia. She moved to North Carolina as a child and grew up listening to the stories of her grandmother, who had been born into slavery. Her grandmother would recount stories of slave revolts and violent whippings. These stories would guide Ella for the rest of her life.

After graduating college, Ella moved to New York City to escape the oppressive society of the South. While there, she worked as an editorial staff member of the American West Indian News before moving to the Negro National News. She was heavily influenced by the Harlem Renaissance that surrounded her. In 1938, she began her long association with the NAACP. She was eventually hired as a secretary in 1940. She was skilled at recruiting members and raising money, so it was no surprise when she was named director of branches in 1943, making her the highest-ranking woman in the organization. 

Ella, however, didn’t believe in abusing her power. She believed in egalitarian ideals and demanded that the organization decentralize its leadership structure and to aid activist campaigns at a local level. Baker believed that the strength of an organization grew from the bottom up and not the top down. This would be the main reason Ella would face difficulties within the Civil Rights Movement. Ella saw figures like MLK as mere orators rather than democratic crusaders. She believed that the best leaders were among the people and practiced “participatory democracy”

Pretty much, Ella was too much of an anti-elitism badass for groups like the NAACP and SCLC. She believed in a more collectivist model of leadership, rather than making herself the hero. She questioned the gender hierarchy of the Civil Rights Movement and the black community. She once claimed that “the movement made Martin, and not Martin the movement” and often said that MLK had “heavy feet of clay” that delayed progress. Ella Baker was a goddamn real one.

Ella would go on to teach and would influence future leaders like Stokely Carmichael, Diane Nash, and Julian Bond. Even into her older age, Ella still wouldn’t slow down as she helped aid the more radical black power movement of the 1960s and accepted armed self-defense among black people. She would go on to fight for the release of Angela Davis, the Puerto Rican independence movement and spoke out against apartheid in South Africa. 

“You didn’t see me on television, you didn’t see news stories about me. The kind of role that I tried to play was to pick up pieces or put together pieces out of which I hoped organization might come. My theory is, strong people don’t need strong leaders.” - Ella Baker

Why Do I harp on COINTELPRO so much?

Because it is DIRECTLY responsible for today’s current state of political apathy among Black youth. During the 1940s, 50s, and 60s even the most “non-political” Black teen played at least some role in ORGANIZED political activity to advance the station and standing of Black people in America. Look at those Black protest photos closely; many of the people you see in them are teenagers.

If you weren’t inclined to support the NAACP you could join the Urban League. If not the UL, then perhaps CORE. If not CORE, then SNCC. If not SNCC then the BPP. If not the BPP then BLA. Or perhaps, like your parents, you were UNIA members. If not the UNIA then the NOI. Or the MST. Or the KOY. Or the SCLC. Or the RNA. Or the AIM. Or the Young Lords

THE FBI’s Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) disrupted destroyed or totally diluted ALL of the those pro-Black and pro-Brown political organizations, leaving a dearth of uncompromising dedicated field-tested Black leadership in their wake, which most of Black America generally and Black youth in particular suffer from today.

A lack of visionary uncompromising Black leadership. The lack of experience of working VOLUNTARILY with and for OTHER BLACK PEOPLE from different walks of life, on a cause bigger than ourselves and greater than a paycheck. The total foreignness of the concept of a Black unity independent of the politics of either the Democrat or Republican parties.

So many of the ORGANIZATIONS that Black people had created to help them combat white supremacy and Black disunity were destroyed by COINTELPRO.

Where there is no vision… the people perish.

anonymous asked:

What do you mean by Susan B. Anthony school of feminism? (Your views have caused me to become more informed after researching what you've said and I'd like to learn a little more!)

Susan B. Anthony was ‘whiteness first’ in the way she approached her feminism (like many white women of her time). It’s why we have terms like ‘white feminism’ and the theory of internationality developed. She was perfectly fine with non-whites (including men) getting screwed over as long as white women got what they wanted/needed.

“I will cut off this right arm of mine before I will ever work or demand the ballot for the Negro and not the woman.” 

In marches, non-white women were often forced to march at the back of lines, because white suffragettes didn’t want to upset racist, white, southern women. 

White suffragettes were also PISSED black men got the right to vote before them.

What words can express her [the white woman’s] humiliation when, at the close of this long conflict, the government which she had served so faithfully held her unworthy of a voice in its councils, while it recognized as the political superiors of all the noble women of the nation the negro men just emerged from slavery, and not only totally illiterate, but also densely ignorant of every public question.

They put their whiteness above the wants/needs of others and stick to the idea that equality = white women being equal to white men and nobody else matters.

Madam C.J. Walker’s “Wonderful Hair Grower”

Photo:  This tin for Madam C. J. Walker’s “Wonderful Hair Grower” was a product of entrepreneur Madame C. J. Walker’s hair care line. Gift from Dawn Simon Spears and Alvin Spears, Sr., Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Hair care entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker was first exposed to the hair care business in the late 1880s when she moved to St. Louis, Missouri. She worked for Annie Turnbo Malone, an African American hair care entrepreneur and owner of the Poro Company, selling her hair care products for about a year and a half in the city. 

After experimenting with her own ingredients, she began marketing her products across the country. Her philosophy of “hair culture” grew to high demand among African Americans.  

In 1911, she incorporated the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company and began recruiting sales agents in major cities across the nation. Her efforts led to the creation of both the Madam C.J. Walker Hair Culturists Union of America and the National Negro Cosmetics Manufacturers Association in 1917. Walker’s efforts provided African American women steady employment as well as a career they and their communities could find pride in.

Mugshot of Angelo Georges Kobel, 1899, Sweden. He was arrested for vagrancy and let off with a warning. He’s described as 1.70m (5′7″), with brown eyes, black curly hair, and tattoos on his left arm. It notes that he is Catholic and “half Negro.” His father is listed as “Negro” and “French national.” Angelo was raised in Sweden by his mother. 

‘Negro National Colonial Question’, Communist League, United States, [early 1970s]. The Communist League were an African American majority Marxist-Leninist organization that eventually merged with members of Detroit’s League of Revolutionary Black Workers to form the Communist Labor Party in 1974.