She Built a Theater, a Community, Devoted to The Celebration of Blackness

“Black Art is a healing art, and It has the ability to heal the world.” – Dr. Barbara Ann Teer

 

She was an actor, a dancer, a producer, a writer, a director, a cultural ambassador, and an iconic visionary who saw beyond her station as a young Black girl born in the segregated, Blacks only, south-end section of E. St. Louis.  Even at a young age, Dr. Barbara Ann Teer showed promise.  She graduated high-school early, and went on to major in Dance at the University of Illinois, where she graduated magna cum laude. She would go on to study Dance in Berlin and Paris, and toured with the revolutionary modern dancer, Martha Graham.

After her studies, she moved to New York to further her career.  There she starred in numerous shows both on Broadway and Off-Broadway.  She was dance captain in the Tony Award nominated, Kwamina; and won a Drama Desk Award for her role in Home Movies. Her acting earned her many accolades, and despite her great success, she decided to leave ‘mainstream theater’ due to its lack of diverse roles for African-Americans.

In 1968, Dr. Teer wrote in a New York Times article, “We must begin building cultural centers where we can enjoy being free, open and Black.  Where we can find out how talented we really are, where we can be what we were born to be and not what we were brainwashed to be, where we can ‘blow our minds’ with Blackness.” That same year, she founded the revolutionary National Black Theatre in Harlem, an institution devoted to the support and promotion of Black Art, Black Artists, and the Black Community. Her theater was an influential institution during the Black Arts Movement, often referred to as the artistic branch of the Civil Right Movement. Those in the Black Arts Movement through artistic expression: poetry, dance, theatre, etc. fought against injustices by celebrating the multifaceted nature of Black Culture and History.   Though the Black Arts Movement began in New York, its influence would spread nationwide. Dr. Eugene Redmond, also of E. St. Louis, is a noted leader of the Black Arts Movement in the Midwest.  The National Black Theatre was a success, touring in Haiti, South Africa, Trinidad, Bermuda, Guyana and throughout the United States.

dr teer from website picDr. Teer sought to uplift not only the image of the African-American, but also the Harlem Community.  She succeeded in both. Because of her success, she has been awarded several honorary Doctorate degrees.  The National Black Theatre is currently in its 47th season, and thriving under the tutelage of Dr. Teer’s daughter Sade Lythcott.  If you visit New York try to visit the theater started by one of your Legendary Locals, Dr. Barbara Ann Teer.  For more on the theater, visit nationalblacktheatre.org.

Legendary East Saint Louisans by Reginald Petty and Tiffany Lee. Available on at http://amzn.to/29Bs21o.

Fab New Photo Of Harriet Tubman & 10 Amazing But Little Known Facts About Her Life

Black History: Special Delivery!!

harriet-tubman-younger Harriet Tubman (1819?-1913) She is believed to be between 43-46 years old in this photo

A newly discovered photo of a “younger” Harriet Tubman (1819? – 1913) is getting lots of publicity in the media! The photo was discovered among other pictures belonging to a deceased friend of Tubman’s.  It is estimated that Tubman is in her early to mid 40’s in the picture.  Her photo along with 44 other photos will be auctioned on March 30 by Swann Galleries.  The photo was likely taken just after the Civil War.  Tubman was then residing in Auburn, NY on land that would later become the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park.

Tubman also made the news in 2016 after it was announced that her image would be added to the $20 bill beginning in 2030 replacing, President Andrew Jackson. While many of us are familiar with Tubman’s bravery and heroism in…

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Madison Washington: Architect Of The Most Successful Slave Revolt In U.S. History

Black History: Special Delivery!!

 

slave revolt.jpg

In 1841, Madison Washington, an enslaved African American started a slave revolt aboard the ship, “Creole”. The vessel was taking 130 enslaved people from Virginia who were to be sold in New Orleans.  Madison Washington had escaped to freedom in Canada, but returned to try and free his wife.  He was captured and returned to slavery in Virginia. Washington and the enslaved men and women traveling aboard the “Creole” endured deplorable conditions and abuse. Led by Washington, 12 other enslaved people onboard the “Creole”, launched a revolt.  One of the slave traders was killed and crew members were also wounded.  Washington and the other slaves were able to take control of the ship and demanded that it be sailed to Nassau, Bahamas. 

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Sam “The Jet” Jethroe: ‘Could Outrun the Word of God’

Sam Jethroe was nicknamed the Jet because he could run so fast that one of his teammates declared that he could “outrun the word of God.” At Lincoln Senior High, he played football, basketball, baseball and even boxed. His favorite game though was baseball. After graduation, he played for the East Saint Louis Giants, then the East Saint Louis Colts, a semi-pro team from which many people were drafted into the Major Leagues.

As a Negro League player, he proved that he was unstoppable. One opponent noticed that Jethroe had a tell; when he was going to steal bases, he would pull up his pants leg. Even with this knowledge, the opponent could not stop him because he was just that fast. The baseball great even beat Olympic Gold Medalist sprinter, Barney Ewell, in a foot race. But to be a great baseball player you needed more than speed. In 1944 and 1945, the switch-hitter led the league in both batting, and stolen bases with batting averages at .353 and .393 and stolen bases with 18 and 21 respectively. While in the league, Jethroe led his team, The Cleveland Buckeyes, to the Negro American League pennant with a 4-0 sweep of the Homestead Grays.

Years before Jackie Robinson would become the first African American in the major leagues, Jethroe, Robinson, and Marvin Williams, all tried out for the Boston Red Sox, but neither were chosen for the team, despite their prowess as players.

In 1950, Jethroe was the first African-American signed to the Boston Braves, and only the sixth African American in the league. That year, he puts his jets on once again and led the league in stolen bases (35) and a batting average of .273. He claimed Rookie of the Year Honors, and to this day, still remains the record holder for the oldest Rookie of the Year in the League.

Sam “The Jet” Jethroe, your Legendary Local. See Legendary East Saint Louisans by Reginald Petty and Tiffany Lee at http://amzn.to/29Bs21o.

 

 

 

Reginald Hudlin, CEO Hudlin Entertainment

reginald Hudlin

Reginald Hudlin was born in East Saint Louis, Illinois on December 15, 1961.  Mr. Hudlin is an iconic writer, director, producer, and executive in the entertainment industry.  He is a coproducer for the 2016 88th Academy Award Ceremony. He produced Django Unchained which in 2012 won The American Film Institute Award for Movie of the Year, Two Golden Globe Awards and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Motion Picture of the Year.

He is a pioneer of African American films and made his debut by writing and directing the movie House Party which was said to be based off of the house parties that he and his brothers held at home on Virginia Place in East Saint Louis.  The success of House Party lead to his involvement in some of the classic black films of the 90’s.  He wrote and produced BeBe’s Kids.  He directed Boomerang, The Great White Hype, and The Ladies Man.

The Harvard graduate says of East Saint Louis in an interview on irockjazz.com, “I loved growing up in East Saint Louis.”  And in a recent interview on KSDK-TV. Hudlin stated, “I always carry the Metro-East with me, whatever I’m doing, wherever I go.”

Look for more in Legendary East Saint Louisans by Reginald Petty and Tiffany Lee at http://amzn.to/29Bs21o.

Fannie Jackson Coppin: 1st African American Female School Principal In The U.S.

Black History: Special Delivery!!

coppin_fannie_jackson Fannie Jackson-Coppin

Fannie Jackson Coppin was born enslaved in Washington DC. Her aunt purchased her freedom when she was 12 years old. As a teenager she worked as a domestic for author, George Henry Calvert. In 1860, she began taking classes at Oberlin College. It was the first college in the United States to accept both black and women students. During her time at Oberlin, Jackson exceled academically. She also joined the Young Ladies Literary Society. Jackson was also appointed to Oberlin’s preparatory department. With the civil war coming to a close, she also started a night school at the college to provide instruction to freed slaves.

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Dr. Larry Gladney’s Accomplishments are ‘Out of this World’

Dr. Larry Gladney

Dr. Larry Gladney, Physicist, Professor, and author or coauthor of over 600 published scholarly works on Physics, is an East Saint Louis Legendary Local.  Gladney says in an interview on the historymakers.com that most of the science that he had encountered, Chemistry and Biology, was not the kind of science that he found interesting. His calling came when he was just 13 after discovering a book on Physics in his Clark Jr. High School’s library.  Though still young and just learning about the field, he knew he was hooked.

By high school he “had already been set on the path to become a physicist.” So after graduating third in his class at East Saint Louis High School, he went on to study Physics at Northwestern, and later received his Master’s and Ph.D. from Stanford University. His expertise lies in the areas of Particle Physics and Cosmology, and their relation to how the Universe began.

Currently, Dr. Gladney teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has served as the Physics Department Chair and the Associate Dean for Natural Sciences.  He has made immeasurable contributions to the field of Physics due to the wealth of information included in his published works alone; however, he continues his research activities and was the co-leader for the Supernova/Acceleration Probe (SNAP) simulation team, which is a proposed space observatory designed to measure the expansion of the Universe and to determine the nature of the mysterious Dark Energy that is accelerating this expansion. SNAP is a joint venture between NASA and the United States Department of Energy.

Dr. Gladney, Physicist, Scholar, and a Legendary East St. Louisans. See Legendary East Saint Louisans by Reginald Petty and Tiffany Lee at http://amzn.to/29Bs21o.