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Guest column: The Closer Union Federation

8 Jan

Ebenezer offers his space to colleague Donald Moore. You’ll see in the “Dottings” column March 9, 1935, that Ebenezer offers his own take on the Closer Union Federation. If there are to be any changes in or of the present system of government which has been, and is still, a system of futility,” Moore wrote, “then let those changes be the elimination of said system and a government as given to the Irish, take its place for the general progress of the islands and their people.”

The New York Age, January 26, 1935

Merry Christmas, Joe Louis, the Communists, the Scottsboro Boys and Mother

25 Dec

Joe Louis 1935

I love the fact that my father gave a shout out to his mom, whom he said was responsible for all that was good in him.  (Sadly, he used the same line nine months later when she died.) He also sent greetings to Joe Louis, the “uncrowned king,” “the Scottsboro lads with a sincere hope for their ultimate freedom,” and  the Communists who took up the Scottsboro Boys cause and saved their lives. There was some reluctance among supporters of the NAACP about whether the Communists efforts on behalf of the Scottsboro Boys would hurt their cause.  Ebenezer did not seem to have those concerns. He did give props to the NAACP for its “untiring efforts on behalf of the Negro race.”

The New York Age, December 28, 1935

‘Vacation days are here!’

14 Dec
 

 

The New York Age, July 20, 1935

“Vacation  days are here!,”  Ebenezer wrote in his New York Age column published in July 20, 1935.  “A human current moves toward parks, playgrounds, camps, beaches and other vacation and summer resorts. The dust has been blown from the old lunch kit; the abbreviated bathing suit has been removed from the moth balls; the house holds but little charm; the typewriter, well we’d better skip it!”  Zuri and I arrived in Barbados yesterday on a flight filled mostly with folks headed “home” for the holidays. I envied them.  My seat mate on the JFK to Bridgetown was headed to St. Philip to spend six weeks with her daughter. Of course, I could not let an opportunity pass without asking if she knew any Wrays, Rays or Alkins. She didn’t.  We will head to the archives today. But first, the beach . . .

A cancer grows in Brooklyn

10 Dec

Georgia and Alabama’s “cancer” seems to be spreading its tendrils in Brooklyn. The sooner its growth is checked the better for all concerned – Negroes especially.

The New York Age, March 2, 1935

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine

5 Dec

This photo by William Porto was taken in 2008.

Construction of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, located at 112th St. and Amsterdam Ave. and dubbed a house of  worship “for all people,”  began on Dec. 27, 1892, when the first cornerstone was laid. But it took decades for the church to be completed. My father published  this column Feb. 23, 1935, and it would be more than six years before the opening of the full length of the Cathedral. (The opening celebration took place Nov. 30, 1941, and a week later the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Construction was halted during World War II and did not resume until the 1970s.)

The grand design inspired this response to those who warned that the Apocalypse was imminent:

“I am far more interested in the present rise in food prices, the prolonged depression, and the likely invasion of Abyssinia by the Italians than in any tornado of fire sweeping these hemispheres and leaving their inhabitants in ashes. Yet there remain a few devout persons who occasionally try to scare my reluctant soul into submission with this bogey, which, they say, will be followed by that great Judgment Day when I will have to account for even taking a lump of sugar when Mother wasn’t looking.  When they come around again I will tell them that while they in their puny knowledge look for world destruction, learned theologians are erecting structures of granite to stand forever.”

The New York Age, February 23, 1935

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