Thursday, December 13, 2012
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Friday, November 23, 2012
Friday, November 9, 2012
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Friday, October 5, 2012
Monday, October 1, 2012
Ethel recalled, “…I would say that Countee Cullen used to drop by most frequently on his way home from school.... He was always so unassuming and charming, a fine young man, and we were only too happy to have him come, whatever we were doing we would stop and listen to it.”
Ethel further recalled, “Yes, we knew Countee and we saw a great deal of him…he came by quite often to read parts of poems that he was in the process of writing. And he would come in and say, ‘would you like to hear what I’ve written’ or ‘do you have time to listen to something that I’ve written."
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Thursday, September 13, 2012
This semester I am working with a student at my university through the Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) program. Al is editing digital stories about Regina Andrews' life. I hope to create eight digital stories this semester representing each chapter in my book manuscript. Chapter One debuts today about Regina's family.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Last weekend I had brunch at Eatonville, a Washington, DC restaurant named after the birthplace of folklorist and writer Zora Neale Hurston.
In 1924 Hurston’s story Drenched in Light was published in Opportunity magazine after she won one of the writing prizes. Hurston lived in Florida at the time and the editor Charles S. Johnson encouraged her to move to New York City. He suggested that Hurston contact his assistant Ethel Ray (Regina’s roommate), assuring her that she would be warmly welcomed at her apartment. Hurston ended up staying on their couch when she first arrived in New York City.* Ethel recollected that, “Zora could tell a good story…pretended that she couldn’t talk English and so she was passed off as an African and was permitted to stay at this hotel. It gave us a good laugh.” Later, “Zora was a person rather hard to keep within bounds, you had to ride herd on her a bit, so she stayed with us at the time. We felt responsible in making certain that she was going to keep these appointments (at Barnard College for a scholarship) because with her if something else interesting came up, off she was.”**
* Valerie Boyd, Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston (Great Britain: Virago, 2003).
** Ethel Ray Nance, interview by Anne Allen Shockley, tape recording, San Francisco, CA., 18 November 1970 and Nashville, TN., 23 December 1970. Black Oral History Collection, Fisk University, Nashville, TN.
A year after Regina Andrews became the first African American to head a branch of the New York Public Library there was a sit-in at a public library in Alexandria, Virginia in 1939. African Americans were not allowed to use the public library so several men (William Evans, Otto L. Tucker, Edward Gaddis, Morris Murray and Clarence Strange) staged a sit-in to protest the policy and were arrested (see picture on the right). This was organized by a young African American lawyer Samuel Tucker (Otto's brother). Instead of integrating the library, the city created a Negro branch--separate and unequal. Samuel Tucker refused to use the new branch. Last weekend I was in Alexandria and took pictures of the original library and the former Negro branch which is now a museum. For more about the sit-in.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
“I remember Van Vechten coming into our apartment this one evening and inquiring who was the hostess, well, the girls didn’t move, so I moved and he handed me this bottle of some exquisite wine. I took it to the kitchen, which was on the side of the living room and just left it there. Then later on when it was to be served, two of the women…their names escaped me not entirely, but we’ll just skip that, refused it when we passed the wine glasses. And then almost immediately, they came out in the kitchen and asked, ‘may we have some’ and I said ‘no,’ (Laughingly) ‘if you’re not willing to accept it in front of the group, I’m sorry.’"*
Monday, 26 January 1925
…Then to the James Weldon Johnson’. Walrond brings three girls in, including the wonderful Louella Tucker who dances the Charleston more wonderfully than I’ve ever seen it danced.*
Several months later…
Thursday, 21 May 1925…At 10.30 went to Regina Anderson’s birthday party. Louella Tucker, Eric Walrond, Ethel Ray...*
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Thursday, January 12, 2012
I recently received a grant that will allow me to travel this summer to explore Audre Lorde's archives at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia and the Lesbian Herstory Archives in Brooklyn, New York.
Sunday, January 8, 2012
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Although I have not come across anything to suggest that Regina knew writer Dorothy West or her cousin poet Helene Johnson, they moved in the same circles. The cousins were friends of Zora Neale Hurston (who stayed on Regina's couch when she first moved to New York City), actress Edna Lewis (who starred in a play with Regina) and actress Rose McClendon who was the executive director of the Harlem Experimental Theatre group that Regina co-founded.
Regina cited Eugene Kinckle Jones as an influence on her career and he advocated on her behalf along with W.E.B. DuBois in her fight against the New York Public Library. Regina was also an active member of the National Urban League under Jones, Lester Granger, and Whitney Young.
I've read the first two biographies and have pre-ordered Sherrard-Johnson's. I look forward to reading another biography about African Americans living extraordinary lives during the last century.