Saturday, February 6, 2016
George H. White’s bold legislative proposals combating disenfranchisement and mob violence in the South distinguished him from his more reserved contemporaries. The lone African–American Representative at the dawn of the 20th century, White spoke candidly on the House Floor, confronting Booker T. Washington’s call to work within the segregated system. The onslaught of white supremacy in his home state assured White that to campaign for a third term would be fruitless, and he departed the chamber on March 3, 1901. It would be 28 years before another black Representative set foot in the Capitol. "This, Mr. Chairman, is perhaps the negroes’ temporary farewell to the American Congress," White declared in his final months as a Representative, "but let me say, Phoenix–like he will rise up someday and come again."
As a child growing up in New Bern, North Carolina my father talked to me about my great, great Uncle George H White. He took me by his old house still here in town. My father was pastor at Ebenezer Presbyterian church and George H. White was one of the founding members. As a child it was hard to understand how any black man could be elected to any thing from here;''Jim Crow'' was in full effect.
George Henry White (18 Dec. 1852-28 Dec. 1918), lawyer, legislator, congressman, and racial spokesman, was born near Rosindale in Bladen County,North Carolina.His natural mother may have been a slave. His father Wiley Franklin White was a free person of color, of African and Scots-Irish ancestry, who worked as a laborer in a turpentine camp. George had an older brother John, and their father may have purchased their freedom.
In 1857 their father married Mary Anna Spaulding, a young local woman of mixed race, who was the granddaughter of Benjamin Spaulding. Born into slavery as the son of a white plantation owner and a slave mother, he had been freed as a young man. As a free man of color, he worked to acquire more than 2300 acres of pine woods, which he apportioned to his own large family.
In 1860 the Whites' household lived on a farm in Welches Creek township, Columbus County. Because he was so young when Mary Anna joined the family, George White always thought of her as his mother. She and his father had more children together. George White probably first attended an "old field school", paid for by subscription. After the American Civil War, the Reconstruction era state legislature established the first public schools for black children in the state. At Welches Creek in 1870, White met the teacher David P. Allen, who encouraged him. Allen moved to Lumberton, where he established the Whitin Normal School. White studied academic courses there for a couple of years,
Wiley Franklin White was a justice of the peace in Columbus County during Reconstruction,before moving to Washington, D.C., in 1872 to work for the U.S. Treasury Department.
In 1874 George White started studies at Howard University, founded in 1867 in Washington, D.C. as a historically black college open to men and women of all races. He studied classical subjects to be certified as a schoolteacher. In addition to his experiences at the college, he worked for five months at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, which had visitors from around the world, and got to see something of its thriving black community.
White finished at Howard in 1877 and returned to North Carolina, where he was hired as a principal at a school in New Bern. He studied law in the city as a legal apprentice under former Superior Court Judge William J. Clarke, who had become a Republican after the war, and also established a newspaper. In 1879 White was admitted to the North Carolina bar. White established a thriving legal practice in New Bern and became active in Republican politics, winning election from Craven County to the N.C. House of Representatives (1880) and the N.C. Senate (1884). In 1886, he won office as solicitor of the state’s Second Judicial District, a six-county area in northeastern North Carolina; reelected in 1890, he was the nation’s only elected black prosecutor for eight years.
In 1896 he was elected to the U.S. Congress representing the predominantly black Second District from his residence in Tarboro. He defeated the white Democratic incumbent Frederick A. Woodard. The Republican president William McKinley carried many on his coattails, but White also benefited because a Democratic-Populist fusionist candidate had drawn off votes from Woodard. In addition, the 1894 legislature had repealed some laws which Democrats had used to restrict black voting, and the turnout in 1896 among black voters was 85 percent.
In 1898 White was re-elected in a three-way race. In a period of increasing disenfranchisement of blacks in the South, he was the last of five African Americans in Congress during the Jim Crow era of the later nineteenth century. There were two from South Carolina, Cheatham before him from North Carolina, and one from Virginia. After them, no African Americans would be elected from the South until 1972, after federal civil rights legislation was passed to enforce constitutional rights for citizens. No African Americans were elected to Congress from North Carolina until 1992.
White returned to law and entered banking, moving his family permanently to Washington, DC.In 1906 they moved to Philadelphia, which had a well-established black community. The city began to attract more blacks as it had many industrial jobs; it was a destination in the Great Migration of African Americans out of the South in the early twentieth century. White founded a commercial savings bank as well as practicing law. He also founded the town of Whitesboro in southern New Jersey as a planned community developed for African Americans,
Congressman George H. White's Farewell Address To Congress
In January 1901, at the beginning of a new century, George H. White was ending his term as a Congressman from North Carolina’s Second Congressional District. Realizing that he was bringing to a close a thirty two year period when nearly forty Southern African Americans sat in Congress, White used the occasion of his farewell address to remind that body and the nation of the reason for his defeat and the elimination of black representation in the nation’s capital. He also predicted that African Americans would return to Congress. His prediction became a reality when in 1928, Oscar DePriest was elected to represent a Chicago congressional district. Part of White’s address appears below.
I want to enter a plea for the colored man, the colored woman, the colored boy, and the colored girl of this country. I would not thus digress from the question at issue and detain the House in a discussion of the interests of this particular people at this time but for the constant and the persistent efforts of certain gentlemen upon this floor to mold and rivet public sentiment against us as a people and to lose no opportunity to hold up the unfortunate few who commit crimes and depredations and lead lives of infamy and shame, as other races do, as fair specimens of representatives of the entire colored race... In the catalogue of members of Congress in this House perhaps none have been more persistent in their determination to bring the black man into disrepute and…show that he was unworthy of the right of citizenship than my colleague from North Carolina, Mr. Kitchin. During the first session of this Congress…he labored long and hard to show that the white race was at all times and under all circumstances superior to the Negro by inheritance if not otherwise, and…that an illiterate Negro was unfit to participate in making the laws of a sovereign state and the administration and execution of them; but an illiterate white man living by his side, with no more or perhaps not as much property, with no more exalted character, no higher thoughts of civilization, no more knowledge of the handicraft of government, had by birth, because he was white, inherited some peculiar qualification...
In the town where this young gentleman was born, at the general election last August for…state and county officers, Scotland Neck had a REGISTERED white vote of 395, most of whom…were Democrats, and a registered colored vote of 534, virtually…all of whom were Republicans, and so voted. When the count was announced, however, there were 831 Democrats to 75 Republicans; but in the town of Halifax, same county, the result was much more pronounced. In that town the registered Republican vote was 345, and the total registered vote of the township was 539, but when the count was announced it stood 990 Democrats to 41 Republicans, or 492 more Democratic votes counted than were registered votes in the township. Comment here is unnecessary…
It would be unfair, however, for me to leave the inference upon the minds of those who hear me that all of the white people of the State of North Carolina hold views with Mr. Kitchin and think as he does. Thank God there are many noble exceptions to the example he sets, that, too, in the Democratic party; men who have never been afraid that one uneducated, poor, depressed Negro could put to flight and chase into degradation two educated, wealthy, thrifty white men. There never has been, nor ever will be, any Negro domination in that state, and no one knows it any better than the Democratic party. It is a convenient howl, however, often resorted to in order to consummate a diabolical purpose by scaring the weak and gullible whites into support of measures and men suitable to the demagogue…
I trust I will be pardoned for making a passing reference to one more gentleman -- Mr. Wilson of South Carolina -- who, in the early part of this month, made a speech, some parts of which did great credit to him… But his purpose was incomplete until he dragged in the Reconstruction days and held up to scorn and ridicule the few ignorant, gullible…Negroes who served in the state legislature of South Carolina over thirty years ago…These few ignorant men who chanced at that time to hold office are given as a reason why the black man should not be permitted to participate in the affairs of the government which he is forced to PAY TAXES to support…
If the gentleman to whom I have referred will pardon me, I would like to advance the statement that…what the Negro was thirty-two years ago, is not a proper standard by which the Negro living on the threshold of the twentieth century should be measured. Since that time we have reduced the illiteracy of the race at least 45 percent. We have written and published nearly 500 books. We have nearly 800 newspapers, three of which are dailies. We have now in practice over 2,000 lawyers, and a corresponding number of doctors. We have accumulated over $12,000,000 worth of school property and about $40,000,000 worth of church property. We have about 140,000 farms and homes, valued in the neighborhood of $750,000,000, and personal property valued about $170,000,000. WE HAVE RAISED ABOUT $11,000,000 for educational purposes, and the property per-capita for every colored man, woman and child in the United States is estimated at $75. We are operating SUCCESSFULLY several banks, commercial enterprises among our people in the South land, including one silk mill and one cotton factory. We have 32,000 teachers in the schools of the country; we have built, with the aid of our friends, about 20,000 churches, and support 7 colleges, 17 academies, 50 high schools, 5 law schools, 5 medical schools and 25 theological seminaries. We have over 600,000 acres of land in the South alone. The cotton produced, mainly by black labor, has increased from 4,669,770 bales in 1860 to 11,235,000 in 1899. All this was done under the most adverse circumstances.
We have done it in the face of lynching, burning at the stake, with the humiliation of "Jim Crow" laws, the disfranchisement of our male citizens, slander and degradation of our women, with the factories closed against us, no Negro permitted to be conductor on the railway CARS…no Negro permitted to run as engineer on a locomotive, most of the mines closed against us. Labor unions--carpenters, painters, brick masons, machinists, hackmen and those supplying nearly every conceivable avocation for livelihood--have banded themselves together to better their condition, but, with few exceptions, the black face has been left out. The Negroes are seldom employed in our mercantile stores… With all these odds against us, we are forging our way ahead, slowly, perhaps, but surely… You may use our labor for two and a half centuries and then taunt us for our poverty, but let me remind you we will not always remain poor! You may withhold even the knowledge of how to read God's word and…then taunt us for our ignorance, but we would remind you that there is plenty of room at the top, and we are climbing...!
Mr. Chairman, before concluding my remarks I want to submit a brief RECIPE for the solution of the so-called "American Negro problem." He asks no special favors, but simply demands that he be given the same chance for existence, for earning a livelihood, for raising himself in the scales of manhood and womanhood, that are accorded to kindred nationalities. Treat him as a man…open the doors of industry to him… Help him to overcome his weaknesses, punish the crime-committing class by the courts of the land, measure the standard of the race by its best material, cease to mold prejudicial and unjust public sentiment against him, and…he will learn to support…and join in with that political party, that institution, whether secular or religious, in every community where he lives, which is destined to do the greatest good for the greatest number. Obliterate race hatred, party prejudice, and help us to achieve nobler ends, greater results and become satisfactory citizens to our brother in white.
This, Mr. Chairman, is perhaps the Negroes' temporary farewell to the American Congress; but…phoenix-like he will rise up some day and come again…
Congressional Record, 56th Cong., 2d session, vol. 34, pt. 2 (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1901), pp. 1635, 1636, 1638.
- See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/1901-george-h-whites-farewell-address-congress#sthash.j2NY4E9n.dpuf
Obama Recalls When There Was Just One Black Congressman
Friday, January 22, 2016
Sunday, January 3, 2016
READ THE FULL LETTER YOU WILL SEE WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR FAMILIES
"willie lynch letter 1712"
This speech was delivered by Willie Lynch on the banks of the James River in the colony of Virginia in 1712. Lynch was a
British slave owner in the West Indies. He was invited to the colony of Virginia in 1712 to teach his methods to slave
owners there. The term "lynching" is derived from his last name.
I greet you here on the bank of the James River in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and twelve. First, I shall thank you, the gentlemen of the Colony of Virginia, for bringing me here. I am here to help you solve some of your problems with slaves. Your invitation reached me on my modest plantation in the West Indies, where I have experimented with some of the newest and still the oldest methods for control of slaves. Ancient Rome's would envy us if my program is implemented.
As our boat sailed south on the James River, named for our illustrious King, whose version of the Bible we cherish, I saw enough to know that your problem is not unique. While Rome used cords of wood as crosses for standing human bodies along its highways in great numbers, you are here using the tree and the rope on occasions. I caught the whiff of a dead slave hanging from a tree, a couple miles back. You are not only losing valuable stock by hangings, you are having uprisings, slaves are running away, your crops are sometimes left in the fields too long for maximum profit, You suffer occasional fires, your animals are killed.
Gentlemen, you know what your problems are; I do not need to elaborate. I am not here to enumerate your problems, I am here to introduce you to a method of solving them. In my bag here, I have a foolproof method for controlling your black slaves. I guarantee every one of you that if installed correctly it will control the slaves for at least 300 years [201 2]. My method is simple. Any member of your family or your overseer can use it. I have outlined a number of differences among the slaves and make the differences bigger. I use fear, distrust and envy for control.
These methods have worked on my modest plantation in the West Indies and it will work throughout the South. Take this simple little list of differences and think about them. On top of my list is "age" but it's there only because it starts with an "A." The second is "COLOR" or shade, there is intelligence, size, sex, size of plantations and status on plantations, attitude of owners, whether the slaves live in the valley, on a hill, East, West, North, South, have fine hair, course hair, or is tall or short. Now that you have a list of differences, I shall give you an outline of action, but before that, I shall assure you that distrust is stronger than trust and envy stronger than adulation, respect or admiration. The Black slaves after receiving this indoctrination shall carry on and will become self refueling and self generating for hundreds of years, maybe thousands. Don't forget you must pitch the old black Male vs. the young black Male, and the young black Male against the old black male. You must use the dark skin slaves vs. the light skin slaves, and the light skin slaves vs. the dark skin slaves. You must use the female vs. the male. And the male vs. the female. You must also have you white servants and overseers distrust all Blacks. It is necessary that your slaves trust and depend on us. They must love, respect and trust only us. Gentlemen, these kits are your keys to control. Use them. Have your wives and children use them, never miss an opportunity. If used intensely for one year, the slaves themselves will remain perpetually distrustful of each other.
Thank you gentlemen
Lets Make a Slave
It was the interest and business of slave holders to study human nature, and the slave nature in particular, with a view to practical results. I and many of them attained astonishing proficiency in this direction. They had to deal not with earth, wood and stone, but with men and by every regard they had for their own safety and prosperity they needed to know the material on which they were to work. Conscious of the injustice and wrong they were every hour perpetuating and knowing what they themselves would do. Were they the victims of such wrongs? They were constantly looking for the first signs of the dreaded retribution. They watched, therefore with skilled and practiced eyes, and learned to read with great accuracy, the state of mind and heart of the slave, through his sable face. Unusual sobriety, apparent abstractions, sullenness and indifference indeed, any mood out of the common was afforded ground for suspicion and inquiry.
Let us make a slave. What do we need? First of all we need a black nigger man, a pregnant nigger woman and her baby nigger boy. Second, we will use the same basic principle that we use in breaking a horse, combined with some more sustaining factors. What we do with horses is that we break them from one form of life to another that is we reduce them from their natural state in nature. Whereas nature provides them with the natural capacity to take care of their offspring, we break that natural string of independence from them and thereby create a dependency status, so that we may be able to get from them useful production for our business and pleasure
Cardinal Principles for making a Negro
For fear that our future Generations may not understand the principles of breaking both of the beast together, the nigger and the horse. We understand that short range planning economics results in periodic economic chaos; so that to avoid turmoil in the economy, it requires us to have breath and depth in long range comprehensive planning, articulating both skill sharp perceptions. We lay down the following principles for long range comprehensive economic planning. Both horse and niggers is no good to the economy in the wild or natural state. Both must be broken and tied together for orderly production. For orderly future, special and particular attention must be paid to the female and the youngest offspring. Both must be crossbred to produce a variety and division of labor. Both must be taught to respond to a peculiar new language. Psychological and physical instruction of containment must be created for both. We hold the six cardinal principles as truth to be self evident, based upon the following the discourse concerning the economics of breaking and tying the horse and the nigger together, all inclusive of the six principles laid down about. NOTE: Neither principle alone will suffice for good economics. All principles must be employed for orderly good of the nation. Accordingly, both a wild horse and a wild or nature nigger is dangerous even if captured, for they will have the tendency to seek their customary freedom, and in doing so, might kill you in your sleep. You cannot rest. They sleep while you are awake, and are awake while you are asleep. They are dangerous near the family house and it requires too much labor to watch them away from the house. Above all, you cannot get them to work in this natural state. Hence both the horse and the nigger must be broken; that is breaking them from one form of mental life to another. Keep the body take the mind! In other words break the will to resist. Now the breaking process is the same for both the horse and the nigger, only slightly varying in degrees. But as we said before, there is an art in long range economic planning. You must keep your eye and thoughts on the female and the offspring of the horse and the nigger. A brief discourse in offspring development will shed light on the key to sound economic principles. Pay little attention to the generation of original breaking, but concentrate on future generations.
Therefore, if you break the female mother, she will break the offspring in its early years of development and when the offspring is old enough to work, she will deliver it up to you, for her normal female protective tendencies will have been lost in the original breaking process. For example take the case of the wild stud horse, a female horse and an already infant horse and compare the breaking process with two captured nigger males in their natural state, a pregnant nigger woman with her infant offspring. Take the stud horse, break him for limited containment.
Completely break the female horse until she becomes very gentle, whereas you or anybody can ride her in her comfort. Breed the mare and the stud until you have the desired offspring. Then you can turn the stud to freedom until you need him again. Train the female horse where by she will eat out of your hand, and she will in turn train the infant horse to eat out of your hand also. When it comes to breaking the uncivilized nigger, use the same process, but vary the degree and step up the pressure, so as to do a complete reversal of the mind. Take the meanest and most restless nigger, strip him of his clothes in front of the remaining male niggers, the female, and the nigger infant, tar and feather him, tie each leg to a different horse faced in opposite directions, set him a fire and beat both horses to pull him apart in front of the remaining nigger. The next step is to take a bull whip and beat the remaining nigger male to the point of death, in front of the female and the infant. Don't kill him, but put the fear of God in him, for he can be useful for future breeding.
The Breaking Process of the African Woman
Take the female and run a series of tests on her to see if she will submit to your desires willingly. Test her in every way, because she is the most important factor for good economics. If she shows any sign of resistance in submitting completely to your will, do not hesitate to use the bull whip on her to extract that last bit of resistance out of her. Take care not to kill her, for in doing so, you spoil good economic. When in complete submission, she will train her off springs in the early years to submit to labor when the become of age. Understanding is the best thing. Therefore, we shall go deeper into this area of the subject matter concerning what we have produced here in this breaking process of the female nigger. We have reversed the relationship in her natural uncivilized state she would have a strong dependency on the uncivilized nigger male, and she would have a limited protective tendency toward her independent male offspring and would raise male off springs to be dependent like her. Nature had provided for this type of balance. We reversed nature by burning and pulling a civilized nigger apart and bull whipping the other to the point of death, all in her presence. By her being left alone, unprotected, with the male image destroyed, the ordeal caused her to move from her psychological dependent state to a frozen independent state. In this frozen psychological state of independence, she will raise her male and female offspring in reversed roles.
For fear of the young males life she will psychologically train him to be mentally weak and dependent, but physically strong. Because she has become psychologically independent, she will train her female off springs to be psychological independent. What have you got? You've got the nigger women out front and the nigger man behind and scared. This is a perfect situation of sound sleep and economic. Before the breaking process, we had to be alertly on guard at all times.
Now we can sleep soundly, for out of frozen fear his woman stands guard for us. He cannot get past her early slave molding process. He is a good tool, now ready to be tied to the horse at a tender age. By the time a nigger boy reaches the age of sixteen, he is soundly broken in and ready for a long life of sound and efficient work and the reproduction of a unit of good labor force. Continually through the breaking of uncivilized savage nigger, by throwing the nigger female savage into a frozen psychological state of independence, by killing of the protective male image, and by creating a submissive dependent mind of the nigger male slave, we have created an orbiting cycle that turns on its own axis forever, unless a phenomenon occurs and re shifts the position of the male and female slaves. We show what we mean by example. Take the case of the two economic slave units and examine them closely.
The Nigger Marriage
We breed two nigger males with two nigger females. Then we take the nigger males away from them and keep them moving and working. Say one nigger female bears a nigger female and the other bears a nigger male. Both nigger females being without influence of the nigger male image, frozen with an independent psychology, will raise their offspring into reverse positions. The one with the female offspring will teach her to be like herself, independent and negotiable (we negotiate with her, through her, by her, we negotiate her at will). The one with the nigger male offspring, she being frozen with a subconscious fear for his life, will raise him to be mentally dependent and weak, but physically strong, in other words, body over mind. Now in a few years when these two offspring's become fertile for early reproduction we will mate and breed them and continue the cycle. That is good, sound, and long range comprehensive planning.
Warning: Possible Interloping Negatives
Earlier we talked about the non economic good of the horse and the nigger in their wild or natural state; we talked out the principle of breaking and tying them together for orderly production. Furthermore, we talked about paying particular attention to the female savage and her offspring for orderly future planning, then more recently we stated that, by reversing the positions of the male and female savages, we created an orbiting cycle that turns on its own axis forever unless a phenomenon occurred and resift and positions of the male and female savages. Our experts warned us about the possibility of this phenomenon occurring, for they say that the mind has a strong drive to correct and re-correct itself over a period of time if I can touch some substantial original historical base, and they advised us that the best way to deal with the phenomenon is to shave off the brute's mental history and create a multiplicity of phenomena of illusions, so that each illusion will twirl in its own orbit, something similar to floating balls in a vacuum.
This creation of multiplicity of phenomena of illusions entails the principle of crossbreeding the nigger and the horse as we stated above, the purpose of which is to create a diversified division of labor thereby creating different levels of labor and different values of illusion at each connecting level of labor. The results of which is the severance of the points of original beginnings for each sphere illusion. Since we feel that the subject matter may get more complicated as we proceed in laying down our economic plan concerning the purpose, reason and effect of crossbreeding horses and nigger, we shall lay down the following definition terms for future generations.
Orbiting cycle means a thing turning in a given path. Axis means upon which or around which a body turns. Phenomenon means something beyond ordinary conception and inspires awe and wonder. Multiplicity means a great number. Sphere means a globe. Cross breeding a horse means taking a horse and breeding it with an ass and you get a dumb backward ass long headed mule that is not reproductive nor productive by itself.
Crossbreeding niggers mean taking so many drops of good white blood and putting them into as many nigger women as possible, varying the drops by the various tone that you want, and then letting them breed with each other until another cycle of color appears as you desire. What this means is this; Put the niggers and the horse in a breeding pot, mix some assess and some good white blood and what do you get? You got a multiplicity of colors of ass backward, unusual niggers, running, tied to a backward ass long headed mule, the one productive of itself, the other sterile. (The one constant, the other dying, we keep the nigger constant for we may replace the mules for another tool) both mule and nigger tied to each other, neither knowing where the other came from and neither productive for itself, nor without each other.
Control the Language
Crossbreeding completed, for further severance from their original beginning, we must completely annihilate the mother tongue of both the new nigger and the new mule and institute a new language that involves the new life's work of both. You know language is a peculiar institution. It leads to the heart of a people. The more a foreigner knows about the language of another country the more he is able to move through all levels of that society. Therefore, if the foreigner is an enemy of the country, to the extent that he knows the body of the language, to that extent is the country vulnerable to attack or invasion of a foreign culture. For example, if you take a slave, if you teach him all about your language, he will know all your secrets, and he is then no more a slave, for you can't fool him any longer. For example, if you told a slave that he must perform in getting out "our crops" and he knows the language well, he would know that "our crops" didn't mean "our crops" and the slavery system would break down, for he would relate on the basis of what "our crops" really meant. So you have to be careful in setting up the new language for the slaves would soon be in your house, talking to you "man to man" and that is death to our economic system. In addition, the definitions of words or terms are only a minute part of the process. Values are created and transported by communication through the body of the language. A total society has many interconnected value system. All the values in the society have bridges of language to connect them for orderly working in the society. But for these language bridges, these many value systems would sharply clash and cause internal strife or civil war, the degree of the conflict being determined by the magnitude of the issues or relative opposing strength in whatever form.
For example, if you put a slave in a hog pen and train him to live there and incorporate in him to value it as a way of life completely, the biggest problem you would have out of him is that he would worry you about provisions to keep the hog pen clean, or the same hog pen and make a slip and incorporate something in his language where by he comes to value a house more than he does his hog pen, you got a problem. He will soon be in your house.
Friday, January 1, 2016
Saturday, December 19, 2015
Monday, December 14, 2015
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Sometimes we just have to look at some other matters of life to let us smile and still have faith in the possible joy of life with all of the awful incidents that are occurring in the world today that make us miserable and sad with all the war, violence, police killings, sex trafficking of young children. It makes us think that too much of life is so awful. But there still must be many things to be positive about and be thankful. Kid President helps lead us in the right direction. This is a special "Kid!" He has a special gift that needs to become contagous to many in the world as well as myself. Peace and Blessings to all.
Saturday, November 7, 2015
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
The First African-American Piano Manufacturer
WILLARD JENKINS FROM NPR JAZZ
At the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival in February, one couldn't help but notice the striking new grand piano on the main stage, emblazoned with the name SHADD. When the many accomplished pianists that weekend sat down to strike those keys, it was equally easy to spot their delight in the instrument.
That piano was the product of a trailblazer in his field. The Shadd in question is jazz drummer Warren Shadd, the first African-American piano manufacturer. That makes him the first large-scale commercial African-American instrument manufacturer, period.
For Shadd, piano making is part of his birthright. His grandparents were musicians: His grandmother was a ragtime pianist in the South in the '30s, and his grandfather invented (and performed on) a collapsible drum set. (He never patented it, a lesson his grandson learned.) Shadd's father was himself a piano technician, restorer, builder and performer — as well as a trombonist. And Shadd's aunt was the NEA Jazz Master pianist and vocalist Shirley Horn. A child prodigy, young Warren made his own concert debut at age 4.
Shadd Pianos are now in churches and concert venues across the U.S. — including the set of American Idol, where house keyboardist Wayne Linsey will play it on Wednesday night's episode. On a recent visit to Warren Shadd's home in a suburb of Washington, D.C. — a home that doubles as the Shadd Piano showroom — he spoke about his life and work.
Willard Jenkins: What sparked your original interest in pianos?
Warren Shadd: My father was the exclusive piano technician for the Howard Theatre, so I would go down there with him four times a week and see James Brown, Count Basie, [Duke] Ellington, Pearl Bailey, Peggy Lee, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers ... rehearsing. I'd see this all day long, every day. From the time I woke up, there were band rehearsals. Shirley Horn rehearsing in my basement with Billy Hart and Marshall Hawkins ... We had pianos everywhere in my house, from the garage to the basement, sometimes even one of the upright pianos sitting in the kitchen, [Laughs.] And musicians would come over to our house after the gig and play all night: Dude Brown, Bernard Sweetney, Steve Novosel, Roberta Flack ...
My father would have me do little repairs on the piano. When he went on these piano [repair] jobs, he would take me with him to see what the whole thing was about ... and I would never want to go. I just wanted to stay home and play the drums; just wanted to be Warren Shadd the drummer. Except when he said he was going to the Howard Theatre — I was in the car before he got there! I wanted to see all these cats rehearse, see the show ... I met Grady Tate when I was about 6 years old, playing with Jimmy Smith, then went full circle and played with Jimmy Smith myself.
As I progressed and learned more about piano technology, I never aspired to; I just knew how to do it. I would say, 'Piano is what I know, drums is who I am.' As I went out there and toured with different acts, did a bunch of Broadway shows and got a little tired of the road, I learned how to tune, rebuild and restore pianos. I would take these pianos down to the nuts and bolts and build them back up just for fun, just for a hobby. I would take whole grand or upright pianos apart, build them back up with everything refinished — new strings, new soundboard, new keys, new ivories — for fun. And then my father would sell the piano. [Laughs.] I was about 12, 13 when I started doing this.
The record player was always going, from Sonny Stitt's Low Flame album, to Count Basie, to Buddy Rich, to Miles, to Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, the James Gang, Iron Butterfly — I had a real potpourri and understanding of all genres of music. While I was doing this piano thing just for the heck of it, I was also performing with a bunch of folks. After I got through high school, I went to Howard University and was in the big band with Wallace Roney, Geri Allen, Gary Thomas, Noble Jolley Sr., Carroll Dashiell and Paul Carr.
When my father passed in 1993, I took over the piano business full tilt, because he had all of these clients for tuning, rebuilding and restoring. He pretty much had Washington, D.C., totally sewn up with all the church pianos. So when I took it over, I already had a client base — it wasn't like I had to start over fresh. We had all these contracts with churches. Coming in as the second generation of this business was phenomenal for me. Secure from being a musician on tour, it was a built-in job.
As the industry changed a bit, I found that rebuilding pianos was not so much what I really wanted to do financially. I would take these pianos and beautifully restore them ... and somebody would say 'OK, I'll give you $600 for it...' [Laughs.] I'm like, 'Dude, even the new strings I put on this cost four times that much!' So I kind of migrated out of that restoration business into doing tunings and repair work.
I would also exchange parts. I'd take a soundboard out of a Steinway and put it in a Baldwin to see what kind of reaction it would give, understanding the engineering, understanding which side vibrates the most. I'd exchange strings, put on heavier strings, lighter strings, to achieve a certain type of sound. Being a musician, I have an advantage of understanding what musicians want and what they want to hear. If I can compare here — Mr. Steinway doesn't play piano, Yamaha no, Kawai no, Bosendorfer no, Fazioli a little bit ... They are engineers and businessmen; I'm a musician and an engineer and businessman. I have somewhat of a musical advantage. What I'm crafting is a musical instrument and all those different components that go into that, especially the musical parts.
At what point did you decide to actually manufacture pianos?
From churches and especially symphonic tunings, you understood that the piano had a disadvantage in terms of the pianists especially being able to hear themselves play, because in church you're in total competition with the Hammond B-3 organ or the pipe organ, the drums, the bass, the percussion, the choir and the congregation. They would put microphones in the piano, but they weren't placed right to give you the most opulent sound of the piano. You would have to totally jack up that sound for the pianist to feel really comfortable. In the symphony, there'd be a floor monitor, but you're totally surrounded by all these string instruments and you're still at a disadvantage ... and you just play the part.
My first notion was enhancing the volume of the acoustic piano by itself, without any kind of electronics. Even if you add electronics, you'll have more sound, because the origin of the piano will have more sound, more volume to it without distorting it — which is important, too. There's a piano on the market that is somewhat loud, but as you play it louder, it has distortion. The soundboard is not made so well that it can take that kind of pounding. My pianos: You can stand on them and you will not get any kind of distortion.
I studied and researched in the library and wrote a dissertation. I went back to some of those old pianos I restored, and I would experiment with the soundboard. I wrote this stuff on sheets of notebook paper and just put it away, didn't really think that much about it. One day, I was tuning a piano at this old man Mr. Tucker's house. As I'm tuning his old upright piano, he started whimpering. I said 'Mr. Tucker, what's going on?' He said, 'It's all right, Shadd, it's all right.' So I go on tuning the piano, then he really starts crying a lot. 'What's wrong, Mr. Tucker?' He said, 'Shadd, see that piano? See that name on the front of it? That should say Shadd, because you're the only one!' I said, 'OK, Mr. Tucker, I've got these ideas, I'm gonna go back and study.' He pretty much planted the seed.
I went back and blew the dust off of these old ideas that had been sitting in a cabinet, and I started trying to engage some of these parts and put some of these old ideas I had together. And then I said, 'Why not try to do some of this stuff electronically?' So I built this prototype piano. It took me two summers and there it is [pointing to a high-tech grand piano in the adjoining room]. I put an audio system in the piano where speakers are right in front of the piano, so the sound would come right to the pianist and the pianist can hear themselves play. And I put speakers under the piano and a subwoofer so you can get the full gamut of the piano and control the volume and graphic equalize each section of the piano — bass, alto, tenor and treble — so you could go to each section of the piano and customize it just like that. I went another step and made it MIDI, so you could play all of your electronic synthesizer sounds on the piano.
For educational purposes, I made this piano interactive. I put a computer under the piano and I built this 24" touchscreen on the front and a 13" screen on the left and encompassed video cams throughout the piano. So on the other side, interactively, your piano teacher can see you, you can see your piano teacher, they can see our face, torso, left hand, right hand, pedal movement, and teach intelligently anywhere in the world ... distance learning right there at the piano.
From that point, you can also have your band on the other screen, so you can even cut tracks with your band live and in real time. You can teach and you can score on your touchscreen as you're watching that, so it's like a total workshop right in front of the piano. Now you can compete in a church environment, in a symphonic environment, because now you have the volume right in your face. But even taking it to another level ... I have a [piano] bench that has surround sound; it has a subwoofer in it. So now, you don't only just hear the music; you feel the music, so that every little nuance that you play on the piano down to the triple pianissimo ... you feel everything that you're playing.
From there, I said, 'Let me go back to the acoustic piano and see how I can apply some of that stuff to these new pianos.' So I incorporated a lot of the soundboard technology that I invented — and I have patents on all of this technology, unlike my grandfather with the collapsible drum set. I assembled an A team of piano manufacturers around the world and sort of cherry-picked the best of the best. I said I want you to make this ... in accordance to my patents and designs.
My first piano, I sold to the Setai Hotel in New York, now called the Langham Place Hotel, and they play jazz there on this piano — seven days a week. I was trying to get a particular piano company to build my pianos. When I called, they said, 'We'll build your pianos if you bring us 1,000 signatures of people who would buy your pianos.' A friend of mine suggested going to the Gospel Workshop of America, the big convention of all the ministers of music and trustees. It happens annually, and I'm thinking at that time all I had was paperwork: I had a provisional patent, but no prototype piano.
How am I going to go there without a piano? Hammond Organ, Yamaha are going to be there, and they're going to have instruments. So I'm just going to be there selling a piano without a piano? I had these big posters made to put on easels and put all this stuff into an SUV and traveled up to Detroit. I bought a corner booth because people were going to be coming to you on both sides as opposed to being in the middle of a straight line in the exhibit hall. I had these banners made that said, 'First African-American piano manufacturer.' I made a video of all the proposed technology. But I still didn't have a piano. [Laughs.]
I've got a lot of family in Detroit, so I got a couple cousins with clipboards to stand outside of my booth to get these signatures — the name of their church, their minister of music's name, what kind of piano they had in their church, how many pianos would they replace if they were able, and how many would they replace with the Shadd Piano based on the technology you see [in his booth presentation]? I ended up with 864 signatures in four days. I got the rest of them from DC Public Schools.
I had six people across and three deep the whole time. I had no idea there was going to be this much interest. This little church lady with a pillbox hat points up to the poster and says, "You mean, we've got a piano!" When she said that, it was like the whole place stopped — it went silent to me, I did not hear a word. At that moment, I knew that this wasn't about me; this was much bigger than me. I'm thinking I'm a conduit, being the first African-American piano manufacturer, and some would say the first African-American musical instrument maker — we don't make trumpets, trombones, tubas...
What's been the reaction of the players to your piano?
It was kind of tough initially to get cats to come out here and play the piano. One cat — after he came out and played the piano and was overwhelmed — said 'You know, I've got to apologize. I didn't come out at first because I didn't want to be disappointed!'
How are you going about connecting with piano players?
One player at a time. I call folks, they come over, they play the piano, and they're wowed. Barry Harris was here three weeks ago and he's brought some attention to some other folks about this piano. Church musicians are in here all the time now. I do know there's a responsibility with this, to make the best piano — not one of the best — the best piano, period, in the world, and that's what I believe I've done. As a people, we can't be parallel; we've got to be three times as good. I'm a perfectionist, so every nuance that goes into this piano has to be the very best.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
I shall never forget the incredible day that I, as one of those "Hard-Headed" women attended the Million Man March. Another woman and I motored to DC and had a hot breakfast prepared by my brother, a day of warmth and camaraderie with my brothers and nephews. My brother had also bought us all matching MM March T-shirts. I joyfully recall all those men of strong conviction who stood for hours to hear all speakers. I had brought blankets for us (women have forethought). I recall the strong arms of young men who, in a gentlemanly gesture, lifted my riding companion and me over a wall so we could venture nearer the front on the lawn to see better. It was a day of love and pride for Black men who traveled from all across the country to be there. And YES, there REALLY were a MILLION OR MORE BLACK MEN on the National Mall that day.