January 24, 2008
In his publication entitled Black Nova Scotians John N. Grant (1980:31) described how the Stag Hotel 1, an Inn located in Preston, was sometimes the terminus of Lt. Governor Joseph Howe’s carriage drives.” (p. 31.) Stag Hotel is a clever play on words as the proprietor was William Deer, an African Canadian.
This inn is referred to at length in Manette’s thesis (1990) where she describes and quotes Mrs. Deer. It is also in Brown’s Illustrated History of Canada (Brown 1987: 287) but no mention is made of the fact that the owners were black.
The book by John N. Grant entitled Black Nova Scotians was produced by Nova Scotia Communications and Information Centre and published by the Nova Scotia Museum as part of the Education Resource Service Program presenting the history of the Black Nova Scotians both as a people and as an important chapter in the history of Nova Scotia. It asserts the unique heritage of Black Nova Scotians. It traces the history from the arrival of the first Black Loyalists in 1793, the Refugees of the War of 1812 through the period of slavery examinging the role of education and religion. Grant underlines the fact that mainstream white educators overlooked the existence of black history.
The Stag Hotel, was popular with Halifax sportsmen for its hunting and fishing. On May 28, 1873, Joseph Howe — ex-premier and new Lieutenant-Governor of the province — visited it for sentimental reasons. But the long drive was too much for his failing health, and he died three days later (Brown 1987: 287).”We inserted this image of a mid-19th century oil painting by an anonymous artist into a Google generated map of Preston, Nova Scotia. This image was uploaded from my Flickr account and is geotagged to a spot near the Black Cultural Centre in Cherrybrook, Nova Scotia. I am not sure of the exact location of the Stag Hotel in Preston although I know it is ten miles east of Dartmouth.
The words on the sign were written by Colonel William Charnley. He described the Stag Hotel kept by William Dear:
“Outside the House looks somewhat queer, Only Look-in, and there’s no fear, But you’ll find Inside, the best of Cheer, Brandy, Whiskey, Hop, Spruce, Ginger Beer, Clean Beds and food for Horses here: Round about, both far and near, Are Streams for Trout, and Woods for Deer. To suit the Public taste, ’tis clear, Bill Dear will Labour, so will his dearest dear (Brown 1987: 287) .”
Grant also included an illustration of the sign and the inn in his Black Nova Scotians.
Grant’s (1980) helpful publication is a useful complement to Winks’ drier read. I have incorporated many of my notes from this book into my chronology. In 1783, after the American Revolution, 50,000 Loyalists came to Maritimes. 3,000 were Black. Many, both black and white were disillusioned. Life was so difficult that many whites Loyalists chose to go back to the United States. The Black Loyalists couldn’t. In Nova Scotia Black Loyalists who had been promised land were having great difficulty. Thomas Peters, a former sergeant with the Black Pioneers, went to England with a petition for land grants that had been denied Black Loyalists. Some of the most industrious Black Loyalists emigrated at that time to Sierre Leone from Nova Scotia. In 1796 543 Maroons arrived in Nova Scotia. Maroons had waged war with Britain for 140 years (1655 – 1796) in Jamaica. In Halifax the Maroons built Citadel Hill fortifications. Wentworth ordered special uniforms for them and named the officers but the Maroons had control of their own hierarchy. Money ran out and the Maroons became increasingly impatient with continual discomfort and hardships. The Maroons, as well, eventually agreed to go to Sierre Leone. They left in 1801. Only a few remained. Slavery did exist in Nova Scotia but by 1810 it was largely a dead issue. Although not completely abolished until the 1830’s the law would not assist slave-owners to catch runaway slaves. During the War of 1812-1814 Cochrane promised freedom to to Chesapeake Bay area slaves who crossed over to British lines. He had planned to recruit the newly freed slaves to the army. The Black troops `the Colonial Marines’ produced the desired effect on the side of the British. Many of them, 1500-2000 would later come to Nova Scotia. Their first winter was extremely difficult. The land given to them was not rich enough for agriculture but they had no other alternatives. The war economy of Nova Scotia was booming. But after the war was the slowdown. The 1815 smallpox epidemic added to the difficulties. In 1820s ome of the Colonial Marines were sent to Ireland Island in Bermuda and others emigrated to Trinidad. There were a few success stories among the Black community. Mr. Campbell, a successful businessman in the 1830’s owned the chief livery stable in Halifax. His farm and stock were comparable to Lieutenant Governor Sir James Kempt. However, most remained as unskilled labourers. Cross-reference to [ Halifax Robert Field]. There is a wonderful story of the role black ministers played re: education and social change as well as an 1850 illustration of Richard Preston. There is also a beautiful story of how he found his mother in Preston. In 1901 there were 5,984 black Nova Scotians (1% of the population). In the same year there were 17,432 black Canadians. In 1873 a Depression hit Canada. Canada continued to experience the financial bust until the Klondike gold strike in the 1890’s. The boom in the West did not help the Maritimes in general and was particularly devastating for the already vulnerable black Nova Scotians.Grant concludes by celebrating the lives of seven Black Nova Scotians including champion boxer: George Dixon, Dr. W. H. Golor college president, William Hall, VC (1826-1904) and B.A. Husbands, president of Halifax Coloured Citizens Improvement League.Webliography and Bibliography
Grant, John N. 1980. Black Nova Scotians. Halifax. Nova Scotia Museum.
Manette, J. A. 1990. Revelation, Revolution, or Both: Black Art as Cultural Politics. Toronto.
Brown, Robert Craig, Ed. 1987. The Illustrated History of Canada. Toronto. Lester & Orpen Dennys Limited.
CC Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen and Melanie G. H. 2008. “Popular 19th Century African Canadian-owned Stag Hotel and NS Premier Joseph Howe.” >> Google Docs.Uploaded by ocean.flynn on 23 Jan 08, 12.32PM MST.
February 17, 2007
Black History Month on Prince Edward Island:
Hi Jinny, Here are some supplemental resources that I have been developing and/or uploading using Web 2.0 technologies since the fall of 2006. I am touched when PEI students are able to use some of my teaching, learning and research resources. I have made my home on other islands and even another continent, but I am deeply grateful that my childhood and youth unfolded in Charlottetown and Rocky Point and my family’s story is rooted in Prince Edward Island.
I will use this page to keep track of additions to my Web 2.0 virtual villages on themes of Black History Month, African Canadian History, and the Positive Presence of Absence.
Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. A Timeline of Show Boat, Pinky and Other Tales of Miscegenation. Speechless @ worpdress. Uploaded February 17th, 2007.
— . 2007. “Review of the DVD Pinky (1949).” Speechless @ worpdress. Uploaded February 16th, 2007.
— . 2007. “Memory Work, Memory Palace and a Homage to Sarah Harvie.” Speechless @ worpdress. Uploaded February 10th, 2007
— . 2007. “John Beverley Robinson and the Abolition of Slavery in Upper Canada. Speechless @ worpdress. Uploaded February 9th, 2007.
— . 2007. “Flicktion in a Flickr of an Eye: 19.” ocean.flynn @ Flickr. Uploaded January 10, 2007.
— . “Positive Presence of Absence: A History of the African Canadian Community through Works in the Permanent Collection of the National Gallery of Canada“. Papergirls @ worpdress. Uploaded January 2nd, 2007.
— . “Jennifer Hodge da Silva (c.1963-1989) African Canadian filmmaker”. Papergirls @ worpdress. Uploaded January 2nd, 2007.
— .”The Gallery as Memory Palace: M. C. Escher, Gainsborough, Tommy Simmons and Ignatius Sancho.” ocean.flynn @ Flickr. Uploaded January 1, 2007.
— . 2006. “Atypical colonialist Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza 1852-1905 stoned in RPCongo”. Papergirls @ worpdress. Uploaded November 30th, 2006.
— . 2006. “Sinking Neptune: some background reading for memory work praxis”. Speechless @ worpdress. Uploaded November 16th, 2006.
— . 2006. “Anna Packwood, Dr. Carrie Best, Tommy Simmons.” Speechless @ worpdress. Uploaded November 16th, 2006.
— . 2006. “Chronology of Show Boat: Some Memory Work for Neptune.” Speechless @ worpdress. Uploaded November 16th, 2006.
— . 2006. “Neptune Sinks in 17th attitudes: what to do with distorted histories?” Papergirls @ worpdress. Uploaded November 15th, 2006.
— . 2006. “Anna Packwoods100th Birthday guests”. ocean.flynn @ Flickr. Uploaded November 15th, 2006.
—. 2006. “Bateke Mask“. ocean.flynn @ Flickr. Uploaded November 14th, 2006.
— . 2006. “Black Pupil as Mirror, the Other-Eye.” ocean.flynn @ Flickr. Uploaded October 13th, 2006.
©© Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “For Jinny and her PEI students Black History Month 2007.” Speechless @ wordpress. Uploaded February 17th, 2007. Creative Commons License 2.5 BY-NC-SA.
February 17, 2007
1812 One of the most powerful earthquakes to hit North American, struck New Madrid, Missouri temporarily reversing the flow of the mighty Mississippi according to a riverlorian.
1831 First show boat William Chapman
1863 President Lincoln, after two years of civil war declared the Emancipation Proclamation freeing American slaves.
1865-77 Reconstruction period: The period after the Civil War and the abolition of slavery.
1870 Fifteenth Amendment gave Black people the right to vote.
1880s and 1890s Fear of Black’s political power led to lynchings . . .
1883 Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi
1889 Chapter One of Ferber’s novel Show Boat opens on an April morning in Natchez, Mississippi. Natchez is south of Cairo where Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri come together. It takes place over a 43 year period.
1893 Chicago World’s Fair World’s Columbian Exposition.
1896 Ziegfeld met actress, Anna Held in London. She encouraged him to develop a show similar to the Paris revue, the Folies-Bergére.
1900 Taylorist political economy
1907 First Ziegfeld revue, the Follies of 1907, opened at the New York Theatre. It was the first of a series of long-running musicals that transformed musical theatre. His musical revues combined beautiful, but scantily clad chorus girls and showgirls with good legs, comedians, innovative and extravagant staging. He spared no expense in hiring the best actors, singers, comedians, composers, lyricists, costumers and set designers.
1909 W.E.B. Du Bois, the first black man to earn a PhD from Harvard University called for the creation of a black encyclopedia.
1912, 1914 and 1919 Ziegfield Follies.
1912 James Weldon Johnson first published The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man which described passing.
1918 Blacks who had served in WWI ideas and scholarship challenged theories of racial determinism and supremacy.
1918 Basu (2002) claimed that the political economic systems from Taylorism, through Fordism, post-Fordism, and flexible accumulation (Harvie 1989) spawned various forms of racial prejudice. Fordism combined with Taylorism as form of political economy. Fordism peaked in 1950s. Taylorism-Fordism encouraged the incorporation of ethnic populations into a hierarchical workforce in what Wallerstein described as ethnicization of workforce (Balibar and Wallerstein 1991). The phenomena of passing and had a socio-economic component.
Frederick Winslow Taylor published The Principles of Scientific Management in 1911, but he started and did much of his work in the last two decades of the nineteenth century. About the installation of the assembly line, Henry Ford comments that “the idea came in a general way from the over-head trolley that the Chicago packers use in dressing beef” (81). Ford dissociates himself from Taylor here, but the consistency of the procedures used in a whole new ergonomics legitimates the hyphenated usage of “Taylorism-Fordism” which stretches, then, from the last decades of the nineteenth century well into the twentieth. Taylorism and Fordism constitute a new ergonomics, but more broadly, they contribute significantly to the twentieth-century culture of the United States. In fact, Antonio Gramsci claims that “Americanism and Fordism” represent an effort “unmatched in history” to create “a new type of worker and of man” (302). Whatever we make of Gramsci’s reading of Taylorism and Fordism, it Is clear that he recognizes that economies of desire must be synchronized with the political economy, that the “new type of man” “cannot be developed until the sexual instinct has been suitably regulated” (297). (Basu 2002).
1920s Harlem Renaissance: Langston Hughes, Arna Bobtemps, Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Toomer.
1920s Romantic cynicism replaces 19th century idealism?
1922 George Gershwin’s wrote Blue Monday an opera about Harlem. Blue Monday was orchestrated by Will Vodery, “a prominent Negro musician of the time who worked as an orchestrator for Ziegfeld’s follies and an accomplished conductor.” (Crouch, Stanley (1999) “An Inspired Borrower of a Black Tradition” (NYTimes) January 1999.)
1926 Jerome Kern gets stage rights to Edna Ferber’s Show Boat. He collaborates with Oscar Hammerstein II to write a musical comedy.
1926 Twenty six lynchings in the south.
1927 James Weldon Johnson book The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man was republished during the Harlem Renaissance with a major publisher. According to the Literary Encyclopedia entry, Johnson’s book “influenced the form and content of later African American novels by authors ranging from Johnson’s contemporaries to mid-century novelists such as James Baldwin and Ralph Ellison.”
1927 The original production of Show Boat produced by Ziegfeld opened in December, 1927 at the Ziegfeld Theatre. It was the first great modern musical. It ran for 572 performances. “It was the second longest running musical of the 1920s.” The music was written by? Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II (uncredited?). Tess Gardella plays Queenie.
1928 – 1929 Show Boat opens May 3, 1928 at the Drury Lane Theatre, London, England and plays 572 performances. It was directed by Felix Edwardes. Paul Robeson as Joe becomes the star of the musical.
1929 Stock market crash. The Depression struck.
1929 May 5 Universal Studios film version of Show Boat is released.
1929 Nella Larsen Passing.
1931 The Ziegfeld Girl: Alvina Casucci, danced on Broadway for ten years during the Depression with Ginger Rogers and Milton Birle. She danced nude as a mermaid in the 1931 Ziegfeld Follies. Ziegfeld lost his personal fortune through massive gambling debts and Wall Street losses (Kreuger:99). Ziegfeld’s last show had to be financed by mobsters.
1932 The Ziegfeld revival. It was his last production. Show Boat played in New York, 180 performances at the Casino Theatre. Edna Ferber was moved by Paul Robeson, who replaced Jules Bledsoe playing Joe. The original Casino Theatre was built in an exotic Moorish design in 1882. (Kreuger:101)
1936 The Great Ziegfield, a film on the life of Broadway producer, Ziegfeld, produced by Henry Blanke and British director, James Whale, received the best picture award of 1936.
1936 Universal film directed by Englishman James Whale. Musical version of Show Boat with Paul Robeson, Irene Dunne and Hattie McDaniel. The Great Depression continues.
1930s Richard Wright: Black writers.
1940 Edna Ferber writes her biography A Peculiar Treasure.
1945 MGM film production ZIEGFELD FOLLIES (1945) directed by Vincente Minnelli. With a cast of top stars:William Powell, Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball, Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Esther Williams, Red Skelton, Gene Kelly, Fanny Brice, Edward Arnold. It was the first time Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly danced together. It made over $5 million.
1945 End of WWII. Returned Black servicemen demand integration and civil rights. Following World War II, returned Black servicemen demanded integration and civil rights. Basu (2002) claimed that the political economic systems from Taylorism (1900-), through Fordism (1918-), post-Fordism, and flexible accumulation (Harvie 1989) spawned various forms of racial prejudice. Fordism peaked in the 1950s. Taylorism-Fordism encouraged the incorporation of ethnic populations into a hierarchical workforce in what Wallerstein described as ethnicization of workforce (Balibar and Wallerstein 1991). The phenomena of passing and had a socio-economic component.
1946 Cidd Ricketts-Sumner wrote her novel Quality (1946). Ricketts-Sumner was an educated woman with an MA from Columbia University and some medical training. Quality like Show Boat dealt with the theme of miscegenation.
1947 Broadway production of Show Boat. check date 1946?
1948 South African author Alan Paton (1903-1988) wrote Cry, My Beloved Country about race relations in in this novel situated in pre-apartheid South Africa.
1949 Kurt Weill produced a shallow, melodramatic musical Lost in the Stars based loosely on Alan Paton’s (1948) Cry, My Beloved Country.
1949 Elia Kazan directed the film Pinky based on Cidd Ricketts-Sumner’s novel Quality (1946). Phillip Dunne (1908-1992) and Dudley Nichols (1895-1960), both activists in their own way, did the screen writing.
1949 Cid Ricketts-Sumner published But the Morning Will Come a book about passing.
1951 MGM Film version of Show Boat. Directed by George Sidney. Ava Gardner plays Julie. William Warfield plays Joe. The film grossed over $8 million. Frank Sinatra sang Ol’ Man River.?
1951 Zolton Korda directed the film version of Cry, My Beloved Country. Author Alan Paton contributed to the screenplay version.
1951 Till the Clouds Roll By Tony Martin as Ravenal; Julie is Lena Horne.
1954 On April 8 the New York City Opera presented Show Boat at the New York City Centre. The musical was elevated to the role of great art. (Kreuger:198)
1954 Brown vs the Board of Education ended segregation in education in the U.S.A.
1959 Film Version of Show Boat starring Ava Gardner as Julie?
1965 Assassination of Malcolm X.
1966 Stage production at the Lincoln Centre.
1960s Revivals of musicals. The era of nostalgia. (Marks 1999) NYT 99/01/24)
1960s Motown glory years.
1971 Thomas Carey in role of Joe is a sensation in London.
1987 Harold Prince revival of Cabaret.
1988 Show Boat recording with Frederica von Stade and Teresa Stratas.
1989 In The Condition of Postmodernity (1989) human geographer David Harvey described “the shift in the understanding of time and space operative in the postmodern experience, a shift characterized primarily by an intensification of space-time compression. For Harvey, postmodernism is a cultural manifestation of late capitalism and a transformation of time and space that serves to accommodate a shift from a political economy based on Fordism to one based on flexible accumulation.”
1989 Livent opens The Phantom of the Opera in December. Receipts for The Phantom of the Opera were $1.5 million. Livent developed their first educational program.
1991 Livent begins to manage the Ford Centre for the Performing Arts for the North York Performing Arts Centre Corporation.
1992 The Stephen Lewis Report (anti-Black racism in Ontario).
1993 World premiere of Livent’s $10 million production Show Boat opened in October 17, 1993 at the North York. Livent, Drabinsky’s production company uses Show Boat as a teaching tool.
1995-99 Dr. Henry Louis Gates develops the CD-ROM Encarta Africana in Microsoft’s Encarta series.
1994 – 1997 The Broadway production of Livent’s Show Boat opened October 2, 1994 to ‘unanimous critical acclaim’ (www.livent.com) played 951 performances over a 27 week period. Its receipts were $100 million. It attracted 1.5 million people. It won five Tony awards including Best Revival of a Musical.
1994 Pinky was released as VHS by Movies Unlimited in 1994 and on DVD 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment in 2006.
1995 Cry, My Beloved Country was produced by Miramax Films.
1998 Livent’s Show Boat opens in Australia.
1998 U.S. businessmen Roy Furman and Michael Ovitz take control of Livent. They file for bankruptcy protection in November. Livent Inc. last annual financial balance sheet listed total revenue of $321,092,000; a loss of -44,131,000. It’s operations were suspended in November, 1998. (Thomson Canada Ltd.)
1998 Hollywoodism; Jews, Movies and the American Dream ( aka Hollywood: An Empire of Their Own (USA: video title) a documentary was produced by Simcha Jacobovici. He referred to the film Pinky.
1999 Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb, co-founders of Livent, face criminal charges in the United States. They are accused of fraud.
1999 Broadway Musical Annie Get Your Gun, the 1946 hit musical with music by Irving Berlin, is revived in a “wholesale renovation” (Marks. 1999. “Rewrite a Classic Musical?” NYT).
1999 The Mississippi: River of Song a PBS seven-part radio series on Mississippi River music. (Rogers, J. 1999 www.ottawacitizen/990105/e010521.html)
2000 Livent’s Show Boat’s (www.livent.com) North American tour supposed to continue into 2000. It was sponsored by Canadian Airlines.
2006 Pinky was released as VHS by Movies Unlimited in 1994 and on DVD 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment in 2006.
©© Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 1999-2007. “A Timeline of Show Boat, Pinky and Other Tales of Miscegenation.” Creative Commons Copyright License 2.5 BY-NC-SA
February 16, 2007
Black and white films as popular culture provided an nonthreatening space where viewers could experience vicariously the extremes of hatred in the form of injustice, violence, cowardice, and despair, or idyllic romance, heroism, and hope. With the appearance of film classics on VCR in the 1990s — and now on DVD — we can imagine how previous generations spent their leisure hours, and perhaps how popular culture formed and informed their identities and by osmosis some of our own. I watched Pinky, one of the award-winning films1 of 1949 by controversial director Elia Kazan2, and recognized blatant stereotypes that had survived well into the 1950s and 1960s and were in no way limited to the southern states: the rebel girl who refused to conform to suffocating limitations based on gender, geography and race, the deified family doctors, the Black Mammy and preacher who had internalized prejudices and avoided overstepping their assigned status, the grumpy but kind and wealthy spinster, the wise judge, the bigoted but upright citizens of small-town America and white spinsters and matrons with formidable undeserved power to sway public opinion through gossip.
The overt racism of most of the cast of small rural town Alabama in the 1940s cut across lines of colour. The ubiquitous role of a heavy-set, weary but wise black maid was played by Ethel Waters (b. 1900) as Granny Dysey Johnson, who worked for a wealthy widow Miss Em (Ethel Barrymore) in her fine southern mansion. Granny Dysey lived a form of internalized racism which we only began to name in the post-colonial period. Her rejection of her granddaughter’s white fiancée was as adamant as Mrs. Woolly insistence that a store clerk interrupt her transaction with the ‘colored’ Pinky to serve a white customer first. The main character, the granddaughter Patricia ‘Pinky’ Johnson, played by Jeanne Crain (b. 1925), was ashamed of her black blood and “passed” for white, leaving her home in Alabama for a northern nursing school. While taking care of the ailing Miss Em they developed mutual respect and learned from each other. Gradually Pinky came to accept her black roots while refusing any limitations they placed on her, no easy feat in the 1940s in Alabama.
When Miss Em bequeaths her estate to Pinky the town turns against her. Neither the black nor white population want her to take possession of the mansion. Mrs. Wooly, Miss Em’s cousin who feels she was defrauded out of her inheritance challenges the will in a court of law.
Oddly enough Jeanne Crain is very Caucasian, which is quite confusing in scenes such as when Pinky and her grandmother literally walk the gauntlet of angry jurors following the verdict in her favour. Crain earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her role, one of the few serious roles she played. Apparently Lena Horne had wanted this role but was rejected to avoid unsettling contemporary audiences who would have been uncomfortable with the affection between the coloured Pinky and her white Bostonian fiancée.
Following the judge’s decision to accept the will as valid, Pinky and her fiancée Dr. Thomas Adam returned to Miss Em’s stately mansion. We see them from the second floor looking small and insignificant in the spacious foyer. As they walk from room to room they become more and more distant from one another. Dr. Adam calculates the value of expensive heirlooms and plans on the disposal of Miss Em’s valuable belongings. In an off-handed way he informs Pinky of his new position in Denver, which would be their new home. He had to leave his medical practice in Boston since the story of the court case had made the news there too. Once they were married she would no longer be Pinky Johnson. Her new identity would be as Mrs. Thomas Adam. She could leave all of the small-town bigotry, humiliations and injustice behind her. But this announcement had the opposite effect on Pinky who felt that the magnanimous gift from Miss Em had to be met with an equally grand gesture on her part. In the closing shots we see the estate transformed into a bustling clinic and child care facility.
The author of the novel on which this film was based was Cid Ricketts-Sumner, an educated woman with an MA from Columbia University and some medical training. She was one of a small group of people willing to discuss complex racial relations, hybridity4, miscegenation and the phenomena of passing3 in her novels Quality (1946) and But the Morning Will Come (1949).
In 1927 Zeigfeld’s Show Boat opened and became the longest running musical of the 1920s. The unlikely themes of this modern musical5 included hybridity, miscegenation and the phenomenon of passing. By the time Ricketts-Sumner published her second book But the Morning Will Come (1949) on the theme of passing, her first was already in film. Renamed Pinky, it was directed by Elia Kazan with script writing by Phillip Dunne (1908-1992) and Dudley Nichols (1895-1960), both activists in their own way. Show Boat was making another comeback with a Broadway version in 1947 and an MGM film version in 1951.
1 Academy Awards, USA: Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Actress in a Leading Role Jeanne Crain (b. 1925), Best Actress in a Supporting Role Writers Guild of America, USA: WGA Award (Screen) for The Robert Meltzer Award (Screenplay Dealing Most Ably with Problems of the American Scene).
2 Pinky was referenced in Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies and the American Dream (1998).
3Other books about passing include Nella Larsen’s Passing (1929) and James Weldon Johnson’s (1912 ) The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. Qualls (1949) claimed Sumner lacked writing skills evident in the way in which she inserted profound lectures on race unconvincingly delivered by her female character Bentley Churston, a high school graduate married to a part-Negro husband. James Weldon Johnson 1912 book about passing, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, was republished with a major publisher in 1927 during the Harlem Renaissance. According to the Literary Encyclopedia entry, Johnson’s book “influenced the form and content of later African American novels by authors ranging from Johnson’s contemporaries to mid-century novelists such as James Baldwin and Ralph Ellison.”
4 Basu interprets literature on similar themes and identifies various forms of prejudice according to contemporary political economies. His references to the work of Deleuze, Guattari, Hardt, Foucault, Balibar, Wallerstein and Nella Larsen drew my attention to the impact of shifts in political economies on the changing face of racism.
In the incorporation of different peoples into a global economy, racism operates through what Wallerstein calls an” ‘ethnicization’ of the work force,” a process which adjusts different “human genetic and social pools” to the “hierarchical needs of the economy” at different times and in different places (Balibar 1991:33-34). Perhaps Deleuze and Guattari come closer to the phenomenon being addressed here in their assertion that racism operates “by the determination of degrees of deviance in relation to the White-Man face” (1987:178); that is, the deviance from the physiognomy of whiteness. Commenting on the above passage from Deleuze and Guattari, Michael Hardt suggests that we speak of racist practice “not in terms of exclusion but as a strategy of differential inclusion” (146) (Basu 2002:1).
5 South African author Alan Paton’s (1903-1988) Cry, My Beloved Country (1948) about race relations in this novel situated in pre-apartheid South Africa was turned into a shallow melodramatic musical called Lost in the Stars (1949) by Kurt Weill. In 1951 Zolton Korda directed the film version of Cry, My Beloved Country. Author Alan Paton contributed to the screenplay version.
Selected webliography and bibliography
Abel, Elizabeth, Barbara Christian, and Helene Moglen, eds. , 1999. Female Subjects in Black and White: Race, Psychoanalysis, Feminism. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Balibar, Etienne, and Immanuel Wallerstein. 1991. Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities. London: Verso.
Basu, Biman. 2002. “Hybrid embodiment and an ethics of masochism: Nella Larsen’s Passing and Sherley Anne William’s Dessa Rose.” African American Review. Fall.
Basu, Biman. The Commerce of Peoples: A Reading of African American Literature.
Butler, Judith. 1999. “Passing, Queering: Nella Larsen’s Psychoanalytic Challenge.” Abel, Elizabeth, Barbara Christian, and Helene Moglen, Eds. Female Subjects in Black and White: Race, Psychoanalysis, Feminism. Berkeley: University of California Press. 266-84.
Butler, Octavia. 1988. Kindred. Boston: Beacon Press.
Deleuze, Gilles. 1991. “Coldness and Cruelty.” Masochism. New York: Zone Books. 9-138.
Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Fauset, Jessie. 1926  Plum Bun. 1926. Boston: Beacon Press.
Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 1999-2007. “A Timeline of Show Boat, Pinky and Other Tales of Miscegenation.”
Ford, Henry. 1922 . My Life and Work. New York: Amo.
Foucault, Michel. Essential Works of Foucault, 1954-1984: Ethics, Subjectivity, and Truth. Ed. Paul Rabinow. New York: New P, 1997.
Foucault, Michel. Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1993.
Foucault, Michel. Politics, Philosophy, Culture: Interviews and Other Writings, 1977-1984. Ed. Lawrence Kritzman. New York: Routledge, 1990.
Foucault, Michel. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977. Ed. Colin Gordon. New York: Pantheon, 1980.
Gramsci, Antonio. 1992. Selections from the Prison Notebooks. New York: International.
Hardt, Michael. 1998. “The Global Society of Control.” Discourse 20:3: 139-52.
Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri. 2000. Empire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Harvey, David. 1989. The Condition of Postmodernity: an Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change.
Henderson, Mae. 1999. “The Stories of (O)Dessa: Stories of Complicity and Resistance.” Abel, Elizabeth, Barbara Christian, and Helene Moglen, eds. Female Subjects in Black and White: Race, Psychoanalysis, Feminism. Berkeley: University of California Press. 285-304.
Kazan, Elia. 1949 [1994, 2006]. Pinky.
Larsen, Nella. 1928  Passing. 1928. Salem: Ayer.
McDowell, Deborah. 1986. “Introduction.” Quicksand and Passing. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP. ix-xxxv.
Morrison, Toni. 1988. Tar Baby. New York: Knopf.
Naylor, Gloria, and Toni Morrison. 1985. “A Conversation.” Southern Review NS 21. July. 567-93.
Parry, Benita. 1988. “Problems in Current Theories of Colonial Discourse.” Oxford Literary Review 9: 27-58.
Qualls, Youra. 1949. “World They Never Made: Only the Anatomy of Disaster: Reviews of Alien Land by Willard Savoy and But the Morning Will Come by Cid Ricketts Sumner.” Phylon (1940-1956). 10:2:185-187.
Ricketts-Sumner, Cid. 1946. Quality.
Ricketts-Sumner, Cid. Tammy
Ricketts-Sumner, Cid. 1949. But the Morning Will Come. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. 302 pp.
Sullivan, Neil. 1998. “Nella Larsen’s Passing and the Fading Subject.” African American Review. Fall.
Williams, Sherley Anne. 1987. Dessa Rose. New York: Berkley.
Williams, Sherley Anne. 1990. “Meditations on History.” Black-Eyed Susans/Midnight Birds. Ed. Mary Helen Washington. New York: Anchor. 230-77.
©© Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. Review of the DVD Pinky (1949). Copyright Creative Commons License 2.5
February 10, 2007
I situated Janelle walking past one of CBC’s heritage moments paintings in the room devoted to members and Presidents of the first Royal Canadian Academy. The water court is visible behind her with Orson Wheeler’s bronze larger-than-life, portrait bust of the African Canadian sleeping car porter and community activist, Tommy Simmons, highlighted by natural sunlight beaming through three floors of Moshe Safdie’s glass and pink granite open architecture.
Robert Harris, RCA (Wales, 1849 – Quebec, 1919) was part of the first Royal Canadian Academy painters formed in 1880. In this painting entitled The Meeting of the School Trustees (1885) he immortalizing Kate Henderson’s1 confrontation with self-righteous Victorian values of rural Prince Edward Island. Kate came to represent progressive thought. One of the “women fighting invisibly at her side” (Williamson 1970) was Sarah Harvie.
In the Bog, on Rochford Street, was an integrated school for the underprivileged. On Prince Edward Island in the 19th century, the gulf between the rich and the lower classes was enormous. Nowhere was this more obvious than in the Bog area of Charlottetown where many Black Islanders lived. For over fifty years in the Bog School (1848 – 1903) Sarah Harvie, trained more than two thousand children. Sarah, who was African Canadian, was highly respected for the positive influence she exerted on the locality (Hornby 1991). One can imagine the 1860 meeting in Charlottetown similar to the one portrayed here. Some protested the fact that children of “respectable parents” were sending their children to Sarah Harvie to benefit from her progressive teaching (Hornby 1991).
On the same street as the Bog School was Robert Harris’ family church, St. Peter’s. Harris who returned often to his Island home, was very attached to this Church. His brother was the architect of St. Peter’s Chapel and Harris contributed numerous paintings to decorate the interior. It is from here that Harris was buried in 1919. In the 1880’s Church meetings must have been heated when, against the wishes of more conservative members, St. Peter’s Chapel became a Chapel of Ease for the poor people of the Bog2.
The Bog was razed in a redevelopment project shortly after the school’s closing in 1903. With the local community scattered many black Islanders became part of an exodus. Within ten years the Island lost most of its African Canadians. The majority went to Boston, joining thousands of African Canadians moving south in search of community and opportunity (Hornby 1991).
In the 1950s when I was growing up in Charlottetown the Bog and its residents were forgotten. The Harris brothers were remembered in architecture, paintings and exhibitions. The fine Victorian mansion called Beaconsfield was the work of Harris the architect. The Harris connection to Charlottetown was revitalized in the Confederation Centre (1967). So it is to them that I link Sarah’s story in my memory palace, the National Gallery of Canada.
1. The name of the one-room school teacher is on the book visible in on the scribbler on the desk in the foreground.
2. In the 1870’s Harris did sketches of “urchins” from the Bog. In 1904 he sketched Sam Martin’s bridge. Martin, a former slave of a Loyalist was the founder of Charlottetown’s black in the early 1800’s. Harris himself had little sympathy with the impoverished.
Selected Webliography and Bibliography
Harris, Robert, RCA. 1885. A Meeting of the School Trustees 1885 Robert Harris RCA (Wales, 1849 – Quebec, 1919)
Hornby, Jim. 1991. Black Islander: Prince Edward Island’s Historical Black Community. Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Institute of Island Studies. no.3.
Tuck, R.C. 1988. “St.Peter’s Basilica” The Island Magazine. My information was based on a telephone call with Canon Tuck March, 1997.
Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 1997. “Memory Work, Memory Palace and a Homage to Sarah Harvie.” The Positive Presence of Absence: a History of the African Canadian Community through Works in the Permanent Collection of the National Gallery of Canada. Creative Commons License 2.5
Editors please note. This is authored using Google Docs technologies which allows for editorial collaboration. For questions, comments, corrections and concerns see Speechless.
February 9, 2007
He died on this day over a century ago and his obituary appeared again in the weekend Globe and Mail in 2007 reminding all Canadians that Attorney General John Beverley Robinson was part of our shared heritage. He was the attorney general of Upper Canada and a staunch defender of the the power elite called the Family Compact (Globe and Mail 2007: S8). But more importantly for me he was the Attorney General of Upper Canada in 1819 who declared that Blacks residing in Canada were free and protected by British law. (See Act Against Slavery) and (“Black History Canada.” In the southern United States slavery was not legally abolished until 1865 with the end of the Civil War.
I spent a lot of time walking slowly through the National Gallery of Canada notepad in hand examining details in each painting and its label looking for clues that would unravel parallel histories hidden by our desire to honour our Victorian heritage as Anglo-Canadians. I’m not sure when it was not enough for me. Perhaps it happened before I began to work here in this privileged place, the physical repository of our material culture, a shared communal archives, shared communal memory. It was a slow and difficult shift from thinking from a place of cognitive certitude to one of critical revisiting distorted histories. It wasn’t popular with docents or staff. But I had no choice. Perhaps I was already in a process of undermining my own job at the gallery from the moment I began asking inconvenient questions.
It’s why I stood for a long time in front of this small, well-crafted painting of John Beverley Robinson1 (1791-1863) in Room 104 of the Canadian collection.
This c. 1846 portrait of Attorney General John Beverley Robinson by George T. Berthon hung in the National Gallery of Canada’s Room A104. When I was researching for the Positive Presence of Absence: a History of the African Canadian Community through Works in the Permanent Collection of the National Gallery of Canada, I included this painting. In 1819 Attorney General John Beverley Robinson in Upper Canada declared:
“Since freedom of the person (is) the most important civil right protected by the law of England … the negroes (are) entitled to freedom through residence in (Canada) and any attempt to infringe their right (will) be resisted in the courts.”
It loosely covered the early 1800s with paintings by Robert Whale’s View of Hamilton and St. Thomas Railway, , the unattributed painting entitled View of Halifax, Paul Peel’s oil paintings based on his cross country tour with Governor Simpson and his painting of Amherstberg. There is also the Croscup room, a painting of a ship in a storm, a folk artist’s detailed painting of Miq’maq, portraits of Lt. Prevost Wallace, and of course the portrait of Robinson.
I was offered the possibility in 1997 of writing a 1500 word brochure touching on highlights of my research. The project was never realized and in a way I am glad for the power of the research was in its sources and the nonlinearity of its telling. Fifteen hundred words were never enough to make an ocean-liner-institution change its course. Web 2.0 is not limited by time and space.
So when I saw this obituary almost ten years later it reminded me of my memory palace, the NGC and of Black History Month. To be continued . . .
A selected webliography and bibliography
2007. “John Beverley Robinson.” Obituaries. Died this day. Globe and Mail. January 31. S8.
Berthon, George T. c.1846. “Sir John Beverley Robinson.” Gallery A104. National Gallery of Canada. cybermuse.
Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 1995-2007. “Sir John Beverley Robinson.” Positive Presence of Absence: a History of the African Canadian Community through Works of the National Gallery of Canada.
Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. My personalized cybermuse.
The Ontario Black History Society. 1981. Black History in Early Ontario. The Book Society of Canada. 1981:20.