Stumbling Toward Enlightenment

Gatherings from the Internet

by barenose

Remember the Ladies: Bertha Calloway

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bertha Calloway

Bertha Calloway

Bertha Calloway was an African-American community activist and historian in North Omaha, Nebraska. The founder of the Negro History Society and the Great Plains Black History Museum, Calloway won awards from several organizations for her activism in the community and Nebraska. “I Love Black History” is the current website for the Bertha W. Calloway Center for the Research and Study of African and African-American History, Art, and Culture.

Calloway was born in 1925. As a student, Calloway was a member of a pioneering Omaha civil rights group called the DePorres Club, first based at Creighton University. During those years, she already planned creating a museum about the African-American experience, to tell the history she never learned in school. She was also active for years with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which had a chapter in the city since 1912.

In 1962, Calloway created the Negro History Society. She started collecting artifacts, stories, papers, and art of African-American history and culture. She wanted to be able to tell her community the history not yet told in schools. In 1975 Calloway and her husband bought the Webster Telephone Exchange Building to establish the Great Plains Black History Museum.

In 1999 the Nebraska State Historical Society honored Calloway with the Addison E. Sheldon Memorial Award, for her “outstanding contributions to the preservation and interpretation of Nebraska history,” years of service to the NAACP, the Great Plains Black Museum in Omaha, and her contributions to the understanding of African-American culture in Nebraska. In November of 2016, a part of Lake Street in North Omaha was renamed Bertha Calloway Street.

Calloway died in 2017 at the age of 92.

by barenose

Remember the Ladies: Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller

Meta Warrick Fuller (public domain)

Meta Warrick Fuller

Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller (June 9, 1877 – March 18, 1968) was an African-American artist notable for celebrating Afrocentric themes. At the fore of the Harlem Renaissance, Warrick was known for being a poet, painter, and sculptor of the black American experience. At the turn of the 20th century, she had achieved a reputation as a well-known sculptor in Paris, before returning to the United States. Warrick was a protegée of Auguste Rodin, and has been described as “one of the most imaginative Black artists of her generation.” Through adopting a horror-based figural style and choosing to depict events of racial injustice, like the lynching of Mary Turner, Warrick used her platform to address the societal traumas of African-Americans.

Fuller was born to William and Emma Warrick, who owned a barbershop and was an accomplished wig maker and beautician for upper-class white women. Her father owned several barber shops and her mother owned her own beauty salon. Warrick was, in fact, named after Meta Vaux, the daughter of Senator Richard Vaux, one of her mother’s customers. Her maternal grandfather, Henry Jones, was a successful caterer in the city. Both of her parents were considered to have influential positions in African-American society.

Her family’s class status was a special privilege that was afforded to them through their talent and their location. After an influx of free blacks began making a home in Philadelphia, the available jobs were generally physically hard and low-paying. Only a few people were able to find desirable jobs as ministers, physicians, barbers, teachers, and caterers. During the Reconstruction, due to racism, legalized racial segregation laws, including Jim Crow laws limited the social progress of African Americans into the 20th century. Despite this, Warrick’s parents were able to find creative success amongst the “vibrant political, cultural, and economic center” the African American community of Philadelphia had established. As a young child, she exhibited artistic skills, and her talent was recognized and encouraged. She was 10 years younger than her siblings and given great encouragement to pursue her passions.

Due to her parent’s success, she was given access to various cultural and educational opportunities. Warrick trained in art, music, dance, and horseback riding. Warrick’s art education and art influences began at home, nurtured from childhood by her older sister Blanche, who studied art, and visits to Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with her father, who was interested in sculpture and painting. Her older sister, who later became a beautician like their mother, kept clay that Meta was able to use to create art. She was enrolled in 1893 in the Girls’ High School in Philadelphia, where she studied art as well as academic courses. Warrick was among the few gifted artists selected from the Philadelphia public schools to study art and design at J. Liberty Tadd’s art program at the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art in the early 1890s.

Her brother and grandfather entertained and fascinated her with endless horror stories. These influences partly shaped her sculpture, as she eventually developed as an internationally trained artist known as “the sculptor of horrors.”

In 1901, Fuller was invited to visit the studio of Auguste Rodin. During her visit, she brought along a recent piece of her work in the hopes that Rodin would accept her as one of his students. Although she was never formally apprenticed under the French master, he became a close friend and vital advocate for Fuller, introducing her to many of the most influential members of the Parisian art community.

Fuller met activist W.E.B. Du Bois for the first time while in Paris. Du Bois became a lifelong champion of Fuller’s work and suggested at their initial meeting that she use her black roots as subject matter for her work. At first, she resisted this suggestion, feeling that it would limit the scope of her work. But as she became more interested in Rodin’s expressive use of human emotion, Fuller returned again and again to impassioned depictions of black figures in harsh situations. Her sculpture Laughing Man, which was included in the 1902 Victor Hugo Centennial exhibition, explored white stereotypes of Blacks.

W.E.B. Du Bois asked Fuller to create a work for the 50th-anniversary celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1913. The final piece, Spirit of Emancipation, marked a subtle but vital shift in Fuller’s work. Instead of employing literal images of slavery, this piece focused on universal ideas of freedom and liberty.

In the late 1960s, Fuller completed The Crucifixion to commemorate the death of four girls in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Fuller continued to create sculptures until her death at age 90, on March 18, 1968.

Black Past

by barenose

Remember the Ladies: Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith
Tracy K. Smith (born April 16, 1972) is an American poet and educator. She served as the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States from 2017 to 2019.

In April 2018, she was nominated for a second term as United States Poet Laureate by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.

Tracy K. Smith was born in Massachusetts and raised in northern California. She earned a BA from Harvard University and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. From 1997 to 1999 she held a Stegner fellowship at Stanford University. Smith is the author of three books of poetry: The Body’s Question (2003), which won the Cave Canem prize for the best first book by an African-American poet; Duende (2007), winner of the James Laughlin Award and the Essense Literary Award; Life on Mars (2011), winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; and Wade in the Water (forthcoming, April 2018). In 2014, she was awarded the Academy of American Poets fellowship. Her memoir, Ordinary Light, was published in 2015.

Smith lives in Princeton, NJ with her husband, Raphael Allison, and their three children. Allison is an assistant professor of literature at Bard College. The family previously lived in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.

The Good Life
By Tracy K. Smith

When some people talk about money
They speak as if it were a mysterious lover
Who went out to buy milk and never
Came back, and it makes me nostalgic
For the years I lived on coffee and bread,
Hungry all the time, walking to work on payday
Like a woman journeying for water
From a village without a well, then living
One or two nights like everyone else
On roast chicken and red wine.

Poetry Foundation

by barenose

Remember the Ladies: Leontyne Price

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

230px-Leontyne_Price_(color)_by_Jack_MitchellMary Violet Leontyne Price (born February 10, 1927) is an American soprano. Born and raised in Laurel, Mississippi, she rose to international acclaim in the 1950s and 1960s, and was one of the first African Americans to become a leading artist at the Metropolitan Opera.

One critic characterized Price’s voice as “vibrant,” “soaring” and “a Price beyond pearls,” as well as “genuinely buttery, carefully produced but firmly under control,” with phrases that “took on a seductive sinuousness.” Time magazine called her voice “Rich, supple and shining, it was in its prime capable of effortlessly soaring from a smoky mezzo to the pure soprano gold of a perfectly spun high C.”

A lirico spinto (Italian for “pushed lyric”) soprano, she was considered especially well suited to the roles of Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini, as well as several in operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. After her retirement from the opera stage in 1985, she continued to appear in recitals and orchestral concerts until 1997.

Among her many honors are the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1964), the Spingarn Medal (1965),[6] the Kennedy Center Honors (1980), the National Medal of Arts (1985), numerous honorary degrees, and 19 Grammy Awards, 13 for operatic or song recitals, five for full operas, and a special Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989, more than any other classical singer. In October 2008, she was one of the recipients of the first Opera Honors given by the National Endowment for the Arts.