So, I know my mother was not my father’s first wife and that he divorced one Lucille Ray in the mid 1940s. This column makes me curious as to why he was so interested in “the divorce question” in Barbados a decade after he had arrived in New York.
This column launches into a diatribe about a fire and the lack of compassion of local churches, then veers into the misbehavior of a court magistrate. Then there’s some consternation as to whether “Negroes” should praise NBC when it presents quality programming, i.e. the Tuskegee choir, instead of complaining about Amos and Andy. The final paragraph is about the Massie case, in which a white woman falsely accused several men of color of rape. One of those men was lynched.
The Honolulu Advertiser described the case as “the most notorious criminal incident in the modern history of Hawai’i. Associated Press editors in 1932 voted it, along with the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, the biggest criminal case in the country. Books and articles have been written about it, and at least one Hollywood film was based — very loosely — on it. But by now many people have forgotten what actually happened, and many more have never heard of the case.”
On February 18, 1933, my father, Ebenezer Ray, debuted what appears to be his first column. He explains that he had been reporting on the courts for The New York Age for several years and was taking on the role of columnist. Seems he had issues with the use of first person, referring to himself in the third. “Altho the third person singular has been applied to the caption, the famous or infamous editorial ‘we’ will be used, which will stand for my scrapbook, the pigeonhole is my desk and me.”