Monday, February 27, 2017

Pinky

Racial passing is a subject matter that interests me and Pinky, a film from 1949, deals with this issue. I have never seen it, but plan to watch it this week for research purposes. Pinky is a race drama about a light-skinned black woman passing as white. For more about the film and the plot, click here

One of the controversies regarding the film was the casting of white actress Jeanne Crane to play the title role. Black actress Lena Horne had wanted the part, but having a white actress as Pinky with audience appeal and monetary pull led to the casting of Miss Crane. (In my opinion, since the actress had to be white, I would have chosen Jennifer Jones. She could have more realistically passed for black, again, just my opinion.)

Anyway, here's another interesting fact about the movie from Turner Classic Movies:

[A] major change in the production of Pinky was the director. [Director] John Ford left the film after only a week of shooting that was so traumatic [black co-star] Ethel Waters described it as a "shock treatment", with Ford's abrasive personality making her "almost have a stroke". [Producer] Zanuck was unhappy with the rushes he saw. 
Jeanne Crane
"Ford's Negroes were like Aunt Jemima caricatures. I thought we're going to get into trouble. Jack said, 'I think you'd better put someone else on it." Ford was replaced with Elia Kazan, who had made Gentleman's Agreement (1947), another racially-themed film for the studio, and earning it an Academy Award in the process. The official reason for John Ford's departure was listed as a bad case of the shingles, which Kazan later admitted was a lie. 
Lena Horne
"He pretended to have shingles. Some years later I said to Zanuck, 'Jack Ford never had shingles, did he?' And he said, 'Oh, hell, no. He just wanted to get out of it; he hated Ethel Waters and she sure as hell hated him.' Jack scared her to death and he knew she didn't want to work with him. I also think maybe he didn't like the whole project. Anyway, Zanuck wired me and asked if I'd come out. I wired back, 'I'll do it as a favor.' Firstly, I threw away whatever Ford had shot. It was poor. It showed a lack of interest and involvement. So, all the footage was mine. The only things that were not mine, which are a hell of a lot, were the script and the cast. It was the last time I ever allowed that. Jeanne Crain was a sweet girl, but she was like a Sunday school teacher. I did my best with her but she didn't have any fire. The only good thing about her face was that it went so far in the direction of no temperament that you felt Pinky was floating through all of her experiences without reacting to them, which is part of what 'passing' is." 
Jennifer Jones
Have you ever seen Pinky? If so, what did you think?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Ira Aldridge

I recently learned about a black Shakespearean actor named Ira Aldrige who lived back in the 1800's. His life was news to me! Here's more about him from Wikipedia:
Ira Aldridge was born in New York City to Reverend Daniel and Luranah Aldridge on July 24, 1807. At age 13, Aldridge went to the African Free School in New York City, established by the New York Manumission Society for the children of free black people and slaves. They were given a classical education, with the study of 
His early exposure to theater included viewing plays from the high balcony of the Park Theatre, New York's leading theater of the time, and seeing productions of Shakespeare's plays at the African Grove Theatre.
Aldridge's first professional acting experience was in the early 1820s with the African Company. In 1821, the group built the African Grove Theatre, the first resident African-American theatre in the United States.
Aldridge made his acting debut as Rolla, a Peruvian character in Richard Brinsley Sheridan's Pizarro. He may have also played the male lead in Romeo and Juliet, as reported later in an 1860 memoir by his schoolfellow, Dr. James McCune Smith.
Confronted with the persistent discrimination which black actors had to endure in the United States, Aldridge emigrated to Liverpool, England, in 1824 with actor James Wallack. During this time the Industrial Revolution had begun, bringing about radical economic change that helped expand the development of theatres. The British Parliament had already outlawed the slave trade and was moving toward abolishing slavery in the British colonies, which increased the prospect of black actors being able to perform.

Ira Aldridge as Mungo in The Padlock
Having limited onstage experience and lacking name recognition, Aldridge concocted a story of his African lineage, claiming to have descended from the Fulani princely line. By 1831 he had taken the name of Keene, a homonym for the then popular British actor, Edmund Kean. Aldridge observed a common theatrical practice of assuming an identical or similar nomenclature to that of a celebrity in order to garner attention.
On October 10, 1825, Aldridge made his European debut at London's Royal Coburg Theatre, the first African-American actor to establish himself professionally in a foreign country. He played the lead role of Oroonoko in The Revolt of Surinam.
An innovation Aldridge introduced early in his career was a direct address to the audience on the closing night of his engagement at a given theatre. Especially in the years leading up to the emancipation of all slaves in the British colonies in 1832, he would speak of the injustice of slavery and the passionate desire for freedom of those held in bondage.
To read more, click here.
Had you ever heard of Ira Aldridge? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Love, Love, Love the Lovings!

Mildred and Richard Loving
Valentine's Day is tomorrow, and the story of Mildred and Richard Loving is one of my favorite love stories! The Loving Story was an HBO Documentary back in 2011, and a feature film, Loving, was released just a few months back in 2016. What an impact they made on love!
When I first read about the Lovings several years ago, I thought what a fitting (and ironic) name for them!

Richard Loving was white, and his wife, Mildred, black. In 1958, since they couldn’t marry in their home state of Virginia where interracial marriage was banned, they went to Washington, D.C. where they could legally wed.  However, upon returning home as a married couple, they were arrested, jailed and banished from the state for 25 years for violating Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act.
The Lovings agreed to leave Virginia and relocated to Washington. By doing this they avoided jail time. But after living there for five years and having three children, they missed family and friends and wanted to return home to Caroline County, Virginia. 
Around this time they contacted Bernard Cohen, an attorney volunteering at the ACLU, to request that he ask the Caroline County judge to reconsider his decision.
Cohen and another lawyer challenged the Lovings' conviction, but the original judge in the case, Leon Bazile, upheld his ruling claiming: "Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. ... The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."
The case moved all the way up to the Supreme Court where Cohen made this argument:
"The Lovings have the right to go to sleep at night knowing that if should they not wake in the morning, their children would have the right to inherit from them. They have the right to be secure in knowing that, if they go to sleep and do not wake in the morning, that one of them, a survivor of themhas the right to Social Security benefitsAll of these are denied to them, and they will not be denied to them if the whole anti-miscegenistic scheme of Virginia... [is] found unconstitutional." 
After the ruling, in their favor (now known as the "Loving Decision") they returned home to Caroline County.
A happy ending to now what seems an unbelievable story—and believe it or not, they were arrested in the privacy of their bedroom during the middle of the night!
Had you ever heard of the Lovings' story? 
Thanks for visiting, and Happy Valentine's Day!

Originally Published 2/13/12

Monday, February 6, 2017

Claudette Colvin: Rebel With a Cause

Claudette Colvin in 1953
So it's Black History Month, and one of my kids told me about a young woman in Alabama in the 1950s who refused to give up her seat on the bus before Rosa Parks. That was news to me, so here's a little about her from Wikipedia:
Claudette Colvin (b. 1939) was a pioneer of the African American Civil Rights Movement. On March 2, 1955, she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus in segregated Montgomery, Alabama, nine months prior to Rosa Parks.
Colvin was among the five plaintiffs originally included in the federal court case filed by civil rights attorney Fred Gray on February 1, 1956, as Browder v. Gayle, and she testified before the three-judge panel that heard the case in the United States District Court. On June 13, 1956, the judges determined that the state and local laws requiring bus segregation in Alabama were unconstitutional. The case went to the United States Supreme Court, which upheld their ruling on December 17, 1956. Colvin was the last witness to testify. Three days later, the Supreme Court issued an order to Montgomery and the state of Alabama to end bus segregation, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott was called off.
For many years, Montgomery's black leaders did not publicize Colvin's pioneering effort because she was a teenager who was pregnant by a married man; words like "feisty", "mouthy", and "emotional" were used to describe her, while her older counterpart Rosa Parks was viewed as being calm, well-mannered, and studious. Because of the social norms of the time and her youth, the NAACP leaders worried about using her to symbolize their boycott.
Claudette Colvin said, "Young people think Rosa Parks just sat down on a bus and ended segregation, but that wasn't the case at all."
On the day Colvin was ordered from her seat by the bus driver but refused to move, here's what happened:
When Colvin refused to get up, she was thinking about a school paper she had written that day about the local custom which prevented blacks from using the dressing rooms and trying on clothes in department stores. In a later interview, she said: "We couldn't try on clothes. You had to take a brown paper bag and draw a diagram of your foot [...] and take it to the store”;and "She couldn't sit in the same row as us because that would mean we were as good as her".
"The bus was getting crowded, and I remember the bus driver looking through the rear view mirror asking her to get up for the white woman, which she didn't," said Annie Larkins Price, a classmate of Colvin's. "She had been yelling "It's my constitutional right!". She decided on that day that she wasn't going to move." Colvin was handcuffed, arrested and forcibly removed from the bus. She shouted that her constitutional rights were being violated. Price testified for Colvin in the juvenile court case. Colvin was convicted of disturbing the peace, violating the segregation law, and assault.
To read the complete article click here.
Feisty, mouthy and emotional; sounds like a teenager, and what a teen she was! I had never heard of Claudette Colvin. Had you?
Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Slow Cooker Spicy Beef & Bell Pepper

Today I was looking for an easy recipe to share and found this one at Let the Baking Begin. Looks easy, delicious and healthy. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Spicy Beef & Bell Pepper

  • 2 lbs beef chuck, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups chopped to 1 inch squares bell pepper
  • 1/2 medium onion, peeled, cut in half, sliced
  • 1 cup broth or 1 cup water + 3 bullion cube
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch
  • 2 tsp freeze dried garlic
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp – 1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce
Place meat on bottom of slow cooker. Top with sliced onion. 

Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic. Mix the broth with Sriracha; or water, bullion cubes and Sriracha. Pour over the peppers and beef.(if using bullion cubes, add only 1 tsp salt). Set on high heat for 3.5-4 hours.

Mix 1/2 cup water and 2 tablespoons corn starch. Add 1 cup of liquid from the meat & pepper mixture and cook on medium heat until boiling, then cook 2 minutes past boil to remove the cornstarch flavor. Add this mixture back to the meat and bell peppers. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, stir and serve.

Sound good to you? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!