Monday, September 27, 2010
Last week I was in Berkeley, California, staying at the Bancroft Hotel and taking a course at the Center for Digital Storytelling. I also had the opportunity to search the archives of Regina's Harlem Renaissance roommate, Ethel Ray Nance at the University of California - Berkeley's Bancroft Library. Numerous letters in Nance's papers indicated that she had a very close friendship with W.E.B. Du Bois. They used pet names, Marielle and Andre, in much of their correspondence. Nance also offered some insight into the third woman who lived with them, the little-known Louella Tucker. Ethel said, "My third roommate was a good time girl, but we needed her for the rent." Tucker also worked, as a typist, at the offices of Opportunity (the house organ for the National Urban League) with Nance.
The picture shows Nance (far right), then Ethel Ray, in 1922, before moving to New York City in 1923 or 1924. She's from Duluth, Minnesota and was the offspring of a Swedish immigrant woman and an African American man from North Carolina.