Stumbling Toward Enlightenment

Gatherings from the Internet

12/12/2020
by barenose
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Remember the Ladies: Linda Brent

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jacobs in 1894

Jacobs in 1894

Harriet Ann Jacobs (February 11, 1813 – March 7, 1897) was an African-American writer who escaped from slavery and was later freed. She became an abolitionist speaker and reformer. Jacobs wrote an autobiographical novel, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, first serialized in a newspaper and published as a book in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent. It was a reworking of the genres of slave narrative and sentimental novel, and was one of the first books to address the struggle for freedom by female slaves, and to explore their struggles with sexual harassment and abuse, and their effort to protect their roles as women and mothers.

After being overshadowed by the Civil War, the novel was rediscovered in the late 20th century, when there was new interest in minority and women writers. One scholar researched the novel, identifying Harriet Jacobs as the author and documenting many events and people in her life that corresponded to this fictionalized, autobiographical account. The novel has been the subject of many academic studies, as Jacobs challenged prevailing ideas about slavery and womanhood in her work.

Harriet Jacobs was born into slavery in Edenton, North Carolina, in 1813. Her father was Elijah Knox, an enslaved biracial house carpenter owned by Andrew Knox. Elijah was said to be the son of Athena Knox, who was enslaved, and a white farmer, Henry Jacobs. Harriet’s mother was Delilah Horniblow, an enslaved black woman held by John Horniblow, a tavern owner. Under the principle of partus sequitur ventrem, both Harriet and her brother John were born into slavery, as their mother was enslaved. Their likely European-American paternity did not alter their status. Harriet lived with her mother until Delilah’s death around 1819, when Harriet was six. Then she lived with her mother’s mistress, Margaret Horniblow, who taught Harriet to read, write and sew.

Three months before she died in 1825, Jacobs’ mistress Margaret Horniblow had signed a will leaving her slaves to her mother. Dr. James Norcom and a man named Henry Flury witnessed a later codicil to the will directing that the girl Harriet be left to Norcom’s daughter Mary Matilda, Horniblow’s five-year-old niece. The codicil was not signed by Margaret Horniblow. Norcom became Harriet’s de facto master.

Norcom sexually harassed Harriet when she came of age. He refused to allow her to marry, regardless of the man’s status. Hoping to escape his attentions, Jacobs took Samuel Sawyer, a free white lawyer, as a consensual lover. Sawyer was later elected as a member of the US House of Representatives. With Sawyer, she had two children, Joseph and Louisa. Because she was enslaved, their biracial children were born into slavery and Norcom was their master. Harriet later wrote that Norcom threatened to sell her children if she refused his sexual advances, but she continued to evade him.

Reward notice issued for the return of Harriet Jacobs

Reward notice issued for the return of Harriet Jacobs

By 1835 her domestic situation had become unbearable, and Jacobs managed to escape. She hid in the home of a slaveowner in Edenton to keep an eye on her children. After a short stay, she took refuge in a swamp called Cabarrus Pocosin. She next hid in a crawl space above the ceiling of her grandmother Molly’s shack.

Jacobs lived for seven years in her grandmother’s attic before escaping in 1842 to the North by boat to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Sawyer had purchased their two children from Norcom. He let them live with Jacobs’ grandmother but he did not free them. The state had made manumissions difficult following the Nat Turner slave rebellion of 1831. While in hiding, Jacobs had glimpses of her children from the attic and could hear their voices.

Jacobs escaped to the North in 1842, where she was taken in by anti-slavery friends from the Philadelphia Vigilant Committee. They helped her get to New York in September 1845. There she found work as a nursemaid in the home of Nathaniel Parker Willis and made a new life. She was also able to reunite with her daughter, Louisa, who had been sent to New York at a young age to work as a “waiting-maid.” By 1827, the last slaves had been freed in New York under its gradual abolition law.

In 1845, Jacobs’ employer Mary Stace Willis died. Jacobs continued to care for Mary’s daughter Imogen and to assist the widower Nathaniel Willis. In January she traveled to England with him and his daughter. In letters home, Jacobs claimed there was no prejudice against people of color in England. After returning from England, Jacobs left her employment with the Willises. She moved to Boston to visit with her daughter, son and brother for ten months. Her brother, John S. Jacobs, who had also escaped and was part of the anti-slavery movement, decided to open an anti-slavery reading room in Rochester, New York in 1849. The black abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, was active in Rochester and it was a center of anti-slavery activities among whites as well.

John Jacobs found a school for Louisa and by November 1849, she was attending the Young Ladies Domestic Seminary School located in Clinton, New York. The school was founded in 1832 by abolitionist Hiram Huntington Kellogg. In 1849 Jacobs joined her brother in Rochester, where she met Quaker Amy Post. Amy and her husband Isaac Post were staunch abolitionists. As Jacobs became part of the Anti-Slavery Society, she became very politicized. She helped support the Anti-Slavery Reading Room by speaking to audiences in Rochester to educate people and to raise money.

On October 1, 1850, John S. Jacobs’ speech was quoted in Meetings of Colored Citizens. Following Congressional passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, both John and Harriet Jacobs feared for each other’s safety, as legally they were still escaped slaves. The new law increased pressure to capture escaped slaves and required cooperation from officials and citizens of free states. The Jacobs’ siblings left Rochester and returned to New York City. Furious about the act, John wanted to leave the country. When he heard that the new state of California did not enforce the act, he decided to go there. He worked in the gold mines during the Gold Rush, where he was joined in 1852 by Joseph Jacobs, Harriet’s son and his nephew.

On February 29, 1852, Harriet Jacobs was informed that Daniel Messmore, the husband of her young legal mistress Mary Matilda (Norcom) Messmore, had checked into a hotel in New York. To avert the risk of Jacobs being kidnapped, Cornelia Grinnell Willis (Willis’ second wife) took Harriet and the Willis baby to a friend’s house where they hid. Cornelia Willis encouraged Jacobs to take the baby and go to Willis relatives in Massachusetts. Without Jacobs’ knowledge, Cornelia Willis paid $300 to Messmore for the rights to Harriet and gave Jacobs her freedom. Jacobs returned to New York with the Willis child.

Writing her memoir and other work
In late 1852 or early 1853, Amy Post suggested that Jacobs should write her life story. She also suggested that Jacobs contact the author Harriet Beecher Stowe, who was working on A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin. When Stowe wanted to use Jacobs’ history in her own book, Jacobs decided to write her own account. She wrote secretly at night, in a nursery in the Willis’ Idlewild estate.

In June 1853, Jacobs wrote a letter in response to an article in the New York Tribune by former First Lady Julia Tyler, called “The Women of England vs. the Women of America”. Her letter was Jacobs’ first published work. As Tyler referred to the lives of enslaved women in the United States, Jacobs believed she had the right to comment, as she had lived that life.

Over the next several years, Jacobs continued to write her memoir, as well as letters to newspapers. In 1854, as Nathaniel Parker Willis was downstairs writing Out-doors at Idlewild; Or, The Shaping of a Home on the Banks of the Hudson, Jacobs was upstairs completing her own manuscript. Jacobs changed the names of all the people she depicted, including her own, to conceal their true identities and protect them from any adverse reaction. The slave owner “Dr. Flint” was based on Jacobs’ former master, Dr. James Norcom.

In 1856, Jacobs’ daughter Louisa became a governess in the home of James and Sara Payson Willis Parton (Sara was the sister of Nathaniel Parker Willis; she later became known as a writer, under the pen name of Fanny Fern.(Wikipedia)

“It is painful for me, in many ways, to recall the dreary years I passed in bondage. I would gladly forget them if I could.”

For a short time Harriet and her brother worked in Rochester, N.Y. in the Anti-Slavery Office and Reading Room, where they became acquainted with Frederick Douglass, Amy Post and other abolitionists. With Amy’s encouragement, Harriet began writing Incidents in 1853. When attempts to have the book published failed, she had it “printed for the author” in 1861. The British edition, The Deeper Wrong, was published the following year.

During most of the 1860s, Harriet performed relief work, first nursing black troops and teaching, and later, assisted by Louisa Matilda, aiding freedmen in Washington, D.C., Savannah, GA., and Edenton. For a time, she ran a boarding house in Cambridge, MA. Later, Harriet and her daughter lived in Washington, D.C., where Louisa Matilda participated in organizing meetings of the National Association of Colored Women.

Harriet died in Washington on March 7, 1897, and was buried next to her brother in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge. (Harriet Jacobs.com)

12/12/2020
by barenose
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Remember the Ladies: Dionne Warwick

Soul singer Warwick became a superstar with early hits like “Walk On By” and “I Say a Little Prayer,” and later with albums like Dionne and Heartbreaker.

“I really attribute it to remaining who I am and not jumping ship, being completely cognizant of what the people … are accustomed to hearing from me.”[On her longevity as a musician.]” ~ —Dionne Warwick

The MOBO Awards 2012 - Arrivals Photo credit: Lia Toby / WENN

The MOBO Awards 2012 – Arrivals
Photo credit: Lia Toby / WENN

Dionne Warwick sang in a gospel trio before recording her first hit songs, including “Walk on By” and “I Say a Little Prayer.” After a lull in her career in the 1970s, her album Dionne (1979) sold a million copies. She went on to release the albums Heartbreaker (1982) and How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye? (1983). In 2012, Warwick celebrated her 50th anniversary in the music business with the album Now. She filed for bankruptcy the following year.

Early Life
Born Marie Dionne Warrick on December 12, 1940, in East Orange, New Jersey, Dionne Warwick has enjoyed a tremendously long career as a singer. She comes from a gospel musical background as the daughter of a record promoter and a gospel group manager and performer. As a teenager, Warwick started up her group, the Gospelaires, with her sister, Dee Dee, and aunt Cissy Houston.

After finishing high school in 1959, Warwick pursued her passion at the Hartt College of Music in Hartford, Connecticut. She also landed some work with her group singing backing vocals for recording sessions in New York City. During one session, Warwick met Burt Bacharach. Bacharach hired her to record demos featuring songs written by him and lyricist Hal David. A record executive liked Warwick’s demo so much that Warwick got her own record deal.

Top Pop Vocalist
In 1962, Warwick released her first single, “Don’t Make Me Over.” It became a hit the following year. A typo on the record led to an accidental name. Instead of “Dionne Warrick,” the label read “Dionne Warwick.” She decided to keep the new moniker and went on to greater chart success. In 1964, Warwick had two Top 10 singles with “Anyone Who Had a Heart” and “Walk On By”—both penned by Bacharach and David. “Walk On By” was also her first No. 1 R&B hit.

More hits, including many written by Bacharach and David, followed as the 1960s progressed. “Message to Michael” made the Top 10 in 1966, and her version of “I Say A Little Prayer” climbed as high as the No. 4 spot the following year. Warwick also found great success with her contributions to movie soundtracks. The theme song for the 1967 film Alfie, starring Michael Caine, was a solid success for her, as was “Valley of the Dolls,” from the 1968 movie of the same name.

In 1968, Warwick had other hits, including her trademark tune “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” which earned Warwick her first Grammy Award. That same year, Warwick made history as the first African-American woman to perform for Queen Elizabeth II in England.

Later Successes
Warwick reached the top of the pop charts for the first time in 1974 with “Then Came You,” which she recorded with the Spinners. But then Warwick suffered a career slump for several years. In 1979, she made a triumphant return to the charts with the ballad “I’ll Never Love This Way Again.” She also soon became a fixture on television with the music program Solid Gold, which she hosted in the early 1980s. Warwick also had several successful collaborative efforts. In 1982, she made the charts with “Friends In Love” with Johnny Mathis, and “Heart Breaker” with Barry Gibb.

Around this time, Warwick scored one of the biggest hits of her career with “That’s What Friends Are For.” Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Gladys Knight also appeared on this 1985 No. 1 hit, which was an AIDS charity single written by Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager. “Love Power,” her duet with Jeffrey Osbourne two years later, marked her next major hit.

Dionne WarwickTroubled Times
Warwick encountered some challenges beginning in the 1990s. It was revealed in the late 1990s that she had a lien against her for unpaid taxes. In 2002, she was arrested in a Miami airport for possession of marijuana. She lost her sister, Dee Dee, in 2008, and her cousin, Whitney Houston, four years later. Despite these personal losses, Warwick continued to perform and to record new music.

In 2012, Warwick celebrated her 50th year in music with the album Now. The recording features songs written by Bacharach and David. She once explained her longevity to Jet magazine, saying, “I really attribute it to remaining who I am and not jumping ship, being completely cognizant of what the people … are accustomed to hearing from me.”

Warwick’s personal life overshadowed her musical talents the following year. In March 2013, she made headlines when she declared bankruptcy. Warwick owned more than $10 million in unpaid taxes, but she stated that she only $1,000 in cash and $1,500 in personal property. According to CNN, her spokesperson explained that her economic crisis was because of “negligent and gross financial mismanagement” during the late 1980s through to the mid-1990s.

Personal Life
In 2011, the New Jazz style CD Only Trust Your Heart was released, featuring many Sammy Cahn songs. In March 2011, Warwick appeared on The Celebrity Apprentice 4. Her charity was the Hunger Project. She was dismissed from her “apprenticeship” to Donald Trump during the fourth task of the season. In February 2012, Warwick performed “Walk On By” on The Jonathan Ross Show. She also received the Goldene Kamera Musical Lifetime Achievement Award in Germany and performed “That’s What Friends Are For” at the ceremony.

On May 28, 2012, Warwick headlined the World Hunger Day concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall. She sang “One World One Song”, specially written for the Hunger Project by Tony Hatch and Tim Holder and was joined by Joe McElderry, the London Community Gospel Choir and a choir from Woodbridge School, Woodbridge, Suffolk.
In 2012, the 50th anniversary CD entitled NOW was released; Warwick recorded 12 Bacharach/David tracks produced by Phil Ramone.

On September 19, 2013, she collaborated with country singer Billy Ray Cyrus for his song “Hope Is Just Ahead”.

In 2014, the duets album Feels So Good was released. Funkytowngrooves re-issued the remastered Arista albums No Night So Long, How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye (“So Amazing”), and Finder of Lost Loves (“Without Your Love”), all expanded with bonus material.

In December 2015, Warwick’s website released the Tropical Love EP with five tracks previously unreleased from the Aquarel Do Brasil Sessions in 1994 – To Say Goodbye (Pra Dizer Adeus) with Edu Lobo – Love Me – Lullaby – Bridges (Travessia) – Rainy Day Girl with Ivan Lins.

A Heartbreaker two-disc expanded edition was planned for a 2016 release by Funkytowngrooves, which would include the original Heartbreaker album and up to 15 bonus tracks consisting of a mixture of unreleased songs, alternate takes, and instrumentals, with more remastered and expanded Arista albums to follow. In 2016, she was inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame.

In 2017, she performed a benefit in Chicago for the Center on Halstead, an organization that contributes to the LGBTQ community. This event was co-chaired by Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama.

2020s to present
In 2020, she appeared as the Mouse on season 3 of The Masked Singer. Despite being eliminated in the second round, Warwick came back during the first part of the season three finale to sing “What the World Needs Now is Love” with the finalists Night Angel, Frog and Turtle as a tribute to the healthcare workers working on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic. This performance was created after the season wrapped production in March. Wikipedia

Warwick has two sons, David and Damon Elliot, from her marriage to actor and musician William David Elliot. She has worked with both of her sons on different projects over the years. (Biography.com)

11/12/2020
by barenose
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Remember the Ladies: Big Mama Thornton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Big Mama Thornton circa 1955-1960

Big Mama Thornton circa 1955-1960

Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton (December 11, 1926 – July 25, 1984) was an American rhythm and blues singer and songwriter. She was the first to record Leiber and Stoller’s “Hound Dog” in 1952, which became her biggest hit. It spent seven weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B charts in 1953 and sold almost two million copies. However, her success was overshadowed three years later, when Elvis Presley recorded his more popular rendition of “Hound Dog”. Similarly, Thornton’s “Ball ‘n’ Chain” (written in 1961 but not released until 1968) had a bigger impact when performed and recorded by Janis Joplin in the late 1960s.

Style
Thornton’s performances were characterized by her deep, powerful voice and strong sense of self. She was given her nickname, “Big Mama,” by Frank Schiffman, manager of Harlem’s Apollo Theater, due to her big voice, size, and personality. Thornton specialized in playing drums and harmonica as well as singing, and she taught herself how to play these instruments simply by watching other musicians perform. Her style was heavily influenced by the gospel music that she witnessed growing up in the home of a preacher, though her genre could be described as blues.

Thornton was famous for her transgressive gender expression. She often dressed as a man in her performances, wearing items such as work shirts and slacks. This led to many rumors about her sexuality, though none confirmed. Her improvisation was a notable part of her performance. She often enters call-and-response exchanges with her band, inserting confident and notably subversive remarks. Her play with gender and sexuality set the stage for later rock ‘n’ roll artists’ own plays with sexuality.

Feminist scholars such as Maureen Mahon often praise Thornton for subverting traditional roles of African American women. She added a female voice to a field that was dominated by white males, and her strong personality transgressed patriarchal and white supremacist stereotypes of what an African American woman should be. This transgression was an integral part of her performance and stage persona.

Recognition
During her career, Thornton was nominated for the Blues Music Awards six times. In 1984, she was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. In addition to “Ball ‘n’ Chain” and “They Call Me Big Mama,” Thornton wrote twenty other blues songs. Her “Ball ‘n’ Chain” is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame list of the “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll”.

In 2004, the non-profit Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls—named for Thornton—was founded to offer a musical education to girls from ages eight to eighteen. The first full-length biography of Thornton “Big Mama Thornton: The Life and Music” written by Michael Spörke has been published in 2014.

11/12/2020
by barenose
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Remember the Ladies: Annie Jump Cannon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Annie Jump Cannon in 1922

Annie Jump Cannon in 1922

Annie Jump Cannon (December 11, 1863 – April 13, 1941) was an American astronomer whose cataloging work was instrumental in the development of contemporary stellar classification. With Edward C. Pickering, she is credited with the creation of the Harvard Classification Scheme, which was the first serious attempt to organize and classify stars based on their temperatures. She was nearly deaf throughout her career.

Professional history
In 1896, Cannon became a member of “Pickering’s Women”, the women hired by Harvard Observatory director Edward C. Pickering to complete the Henry Draper Catalogue, mapping and defining every star in the sky to photographic magnitude of about 9.

Anna Draper, the widow of wealthy physician and amateur astronomer Henry Draper, set up a fund to support the work. Men at the laboratory did the labor of operating the telescopes and taking photographs while the women examined the data, carried out astronomical calculations, and cataloged those photographs during the day.[9] Pickering made the Catalogue a long-term project to obtain the optical spectra of as many stars as possible and to index and classify stars by spectra. If making measurements was hard, the development of a reasonable classification was at least as difficult.

Not long after work began on the Draper Catalogue, a disagreement developed as to how to classify the stars. The analysis was first started by Nettie Farrar, who left a few months later to be married. This left the problem to the ideas of Henry Draper’s niece Antonia Maury (who insisted on a complex classification system) and Williamina Fleming (who was overseeing the project for Pickering, and wanted a much more simple, straightforward approach). Cannon negotiated a compromise: she started by examining the bright southern hemisphere stars. To these stars she applied a third system, a division of stars into the spectral classes O, B, A, F, G, K, M. Her scheme was based on the strength of the Balmer absorption lines. After absorption lines were understood in terms of stellar temperatures, her initial classification system was rearranged to avoid having to update star catalogues. Cannon came up with the mnemonic of “Oh Be a Fine Girl, Kiss Me” as a way to remember stellar classification. Cannon published her first catalog of stellar spectra in 1901.

Cannon and the other women at the Observatory were criticized at first for being “out of their place” and not being housewives. In fact, women could only get as high as assistants in this line of work and were only paid 25 cents an hour for seven hours a day, six days a week. Cannon dominated this field because of her “tidiness” and patience for the tedious work, and even helped the men in the observatory gain popularity. Cannon helped broker partnerships and exchanges of equipment between men in the international community and assumed an ambassador-like role outside of it. She wrote books and articles to increase astronomy’s status, and in 1933, she represented professional women at the World’s Fair in Chicago.

Cannon’s determination and hard work paid off. She classified more stars in a lifetime than anyone else, with a total of around 500,000 stars. She also discovered 300 variable stars, five novas, and one spectroscopic binary, creating a bibliography that included about 200,000 references. Cannon could classify three stars a minute just by looking at their spectral patterns and, if using a magnifying glass, could classify stars down to the ninth magnitude, around 16 times fainter than the human eye can see.

On May 9, 1922, the International Astronomical Union passed the resolution to formally adopt Cannon’s stellar classification system, and with only minor changes, it is still being used for classification today. The astronomer Cecilia Payne collaborated with Cannon and used Cannon’s data to show that the stars were composed mainly of hydrogen and helium.

Later life and death
Annie Jump Cannon’s career in astronomy lasted for more than 40 years, until her retirement in 1940. During this time, Cannon helped women gain acceptance and respect within the scientific community. Her calm and hardworking attitude and demeanor helped her gain respect throughout her lifetime and paved the path for future women astronomers.

Cannon died on April 13, 1941, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at the age of 77. The American Astronomical Society presents the Annie Jump Cannon Award annually to female astronomers for distinguished work in astronomy.

Further Reading
On Annie Jump Cannon as a woman scientist, see the classic work by Margaret W. Rossiter, Women Scientists in America Struggles and Strategies to 1940 (1982). A biography of Cannon was written by Owen Gingerich: “Cannon, Annie Jump,” in: Dictionary of Scientific Biography (1971). At the death of Cannon, two important obituaries were published, one by the first laureate of the Annie Jump Cannon Prize in 1934, Cecilia Payne Gaposchkin, in Science (May 9, 1941), and the other by R. L. Waterfield, in Nature (June 14, 1941). Apart from recalling the scientific career of Cannon, they paid homage to her personality. (Encyclopedia.com)

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