Negro History Week – Springfield, Mass. 1946

There is no letter this time. I am posting several newspaper articles mailed home about various Negro History Week activities in Springfield, Massachusetts in February, 1946. Included are some articles I found at GenealogyBank.I thought I would post them as African American History Month draws to a close.  Something not covered by newspaper article is that there were only six more months until I arrived on the scene!

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Chapel of Air Lists Events

Special programs will be presented observance of Negro history week, which starts today, and Brotherhood month over the chapel of the Air program sponsored by the Greater Springfield Council of Churches.

Tomorrow and Tuesday members of the international seminar, meeting here at Hope Congregational church, will speak.  They are Rev Sabapathy Julandran, Chaplain Gernanda Laxamana and Miss Manawora Powar of India.

Rev Albert B. Cleage, pastor of St. John’s church will be speaker for the balance of the week. His topics will be “The Christian Dilemma” on Wednesday; “Pigmies and Supermen” on Thursday; and “Hope vs Reason” on Friday.  The program is scheduled at 1:30 over WSPR. (Schedule transcribed from The Springfield Sunday Union and Republican. February 10 1946)

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Civil War Called Economic Contest

George W. Goodman Asserts It was Fought Because Slave and Free Economies Were Opposed

The Civil War was not fought for the emancipation of the Negro but was a contest between two economic theories – slave economy and free economy – with the Negro as the scapegoat, was the declaration made by George W. Goodman, director of the North End Interracial Community Center in Hartford, in his talk last night at the observance of Negro history week conducted by the Springfield branch National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at St. John’s Congregational church.

Fluently expressing his thoughts on his topic of “Democracy at the Crossroads,” Mr. Goodman further declared that the present-day racial troubles in this country are not accidental but the result of an accumulation of negative attitudes and differences throughout the 300 years of this country’s existence.

Emphasizing that America must face squarely the matter of justice and equality for all men as being a basic moral issue, the speaker added “We’ve been talking democracy for about 200 years but we haven’t come close to actually applying it.”

Citing his experiences while a Red Cross worker for two years in England, Mr. Goodman said that the English people showed unreserved friendship to American Negro soldiers due to the friendly attitude and sense of humor the colored soldier displayed.

A part of the meeting featured the awarding of merit certificates issued by the national office of the NAACP in New York to eight members of the local unit who had been instrumental in increasing the membership during the campaign last year.  The presentations were made by Rev. Albert Cleage, pastor of St. John’s church.  Miss Marguerite Carson, president of the Springfield branch, was chairman of the meeting.(Transcribed from The Springfield Daily Republican, Springfield, Mass, Thursday, February 14, 1946)

In a combination of choral speaking, music and plain speech, a program of Negro folklore called “The Negro Speaks” was presented at the YWCA last night. In three movements which took almost two hours, the speech choir, soloists, quartet, speakers presented a rhythmic, sibilant tone and word picture of the progress of the Negro from slavery to the present.

Choral speaking is the oral interpretation of verse possessing many of the qualities of the Negro spiritual.  The speech choir was led by Langston Hughes. Soloist was Carol Somerville and the quartet was composed of Constance Taylor, Joanne Wilson, James Herbert and William Barnett.  Speakers were William Woods, Isiah Hill, John Carter and Marguerite Carson. Other singers were Clarence Calloway, James W. Johnson and J.R. Johnson, Frances Jones accompanied.

Members of the speech choir were Alfreda Desmond, Myrtle Desmond, Edith fuller, William B. Hill, Malcolm Lasseter, Nile Pettijohn, Joan Carole Porter, Charles Wiley, Willa Mae Porter, Lindbergh Pulley, Barbara Seymour, James Spruill, Alberta Walker, Dorothy Walker, Rodman Ware, Alfred B. Wimbish and W. Orrin Woods.

The program was a part of Negro history week which ends today. Opening remarks were made by Mrs William A. Lawrence.

According to The History of St. John’s congregational Church, published in 1966 “He (Albert B. Cleage) also wrote dramas; one of them coauthored with four other recalled ‘eighty years of progress’ since Emancipation and “the significant role the Negro played in our country’s history.'”

“It’s Thanksgiving eve…”

St. John’s Congregational Church
Springfield, Mass.

210 King Street
November 21, 1945

Hi folks:

It’s Thanksgiving eve…Doris is out to the Ballet with Mrs. DeBerry. We were planning to go but some of my folks are trying to organize a “Community Council of Negroes” and they called a meeting for tonight and I thought I’d better be there to see that nothing was pulled off… and when I arrived on time (for once) there was nobody present but me and another po’ cold Negro… and eventually two or three more showed up…but not the man with the key to the building so we adjourned without a meeting.  It was just as well that a way since I am interested in organizing a “similar” Council under the N.A.A.C.P. sponsorship…and that can’t be accomplished until the new president takes office December 1st.

Everything goes along…Our kitchen is now furnished except for the Frigidaire…The Ladies Progressive League finally got the “Breakfast set” in…and another lady contributed an electric wall clock..and other little nick nacks for the kitchen.  The guest-room is furnished with a bed and dresser…and the rest of the equipment is “on the way”.  Before Louis gets here and reports…I’d better mention that the house is still as empty as a barn….The living room has nothing in it….and the rest of the house has the uncoordinated look which a house has without curtains…drapes…pictures…n’ that…but its livable…and our credit is exhausted…The treasurer hands me my check and I hand it to the white-folks.  I guess I mentioned the couch we bought for the dining room…It’s “light oak”…modern’ n’ that… and sort of goes with our dinning-room outfit…we went down-town to get a studio couch that could be used as a bed for company… but saw this marked down from $129.00 to $89.00…and it being what we wanted (and couldn’t afford) we couldn’t resist a bargain…and put a nickle down on it.

My mother reads on the new couch

The church is going along nicely.  Sunday morning attendance is holding up…and quite a few visitors are dropping in.  We have seven new members waiting to be fellowshipped in. I’m trying to get fifteen before having an “in-gathering”.  The members are trying to make us fat with their Turkey dinner invitations …We ate out twice last week…great BIG ELEGANT dinners from soup to nuts n’ that.  We are also eating two Thanksgiving dinners out this week.  One tomorrow, Thanksgiving…and another Saturday with a family who have all their celebrations on Saturday when the father can be home from work.  We are still “ORGANIZING CRAZY”… We are organizing the entire church into “activity-groups ” of eighteen members each…About 25 or more groups.  These groups will meet monthly…The group leaders will “encourage the participation” of their members…check up on financial obligations (collect back dues) etc. and will raise their group-financial quota of $100.00.  They will, at least make it possible for more people to actively participate in the church program.  We are also organizing a Men’s Brotherhood consisting of all the men in the church.  They, too, will meet once a month with a Forum or banquet. or something “interesting”.  I’m trying to gradually get everybody DOING SOMETHING…and they seem to like the activity.  We had a recital at the church last Friday.  It was sponsored by the Choir.  The girl is studying at Julliard in New York and use to sing in the Choir.  Her father is on the Standing-Committee n’ that.  The admission was $1.20 which made me fearful… but a goodly crowd was out…and the girl got her $100.00 and the church cleared about $100.00 so everybody was happy. (See enclosed Program)

Hazel Scott
Hazel Scott. To read more about her and hear her sing click the photo.

We went down to hear Hazel Scott Monday night at the Civic auditorium.  It was jammed and packed….and she rocked them.  all of my members were out in a body…I didn’t recognize the scoundrels in them furs and diamonds..all sitting in the five dollar seats. AND IT WAS RAINING CATS AND DOGS.  Doris is taking a class in “Make-up” at the Springfield Playhouse…and I had to go by for her…and we had to run about ten blocks in the rain to the auditorium.. A sailor and his girl sat next to us…During the first half of the program he sat with his head down on his knees…I thought the music was just too much for him…Just as she got to the Modern music…he heaved once or twice…and turned out the balcony…(I was sitting next to him)…The woman sitting in front of him liked to died…and she came just that close to being drowned … it was a sorry mess…His girl friend was LOYAL …and I do mean LOYAL …she stuck  right with him…as we good neighbors fled in wild panic…wiped his face and helped his stinking hulk from the room…We enjoyed the program, however…The critic here was a little critical…she played too fast…had too heavy a hand…etc. with which I agreed…but anyhow… she sho’ rocked Springfield one time!  The Negro “Ministerial council” asked me to preach their Thanksgiving Sermon…But I had already agreed to say the Benediction for the White Folks at a city-wide Unity service at the civic auditorium.  Negroes do love to have their own little affairs.  They were all invited to participate in the downtown service….but they preferred to have their own “segregated service”.

The women’s missionary division of the State Congregational Conference is going to meet at St. John’s Church next week…to learn of our great work…and to consider possible expansions.  We are getting ready to receive them with open arms…and dreams of a parish house for them to chew on…

Church Choirs from here, there and everywhere are holding forth at our church next Sunday afternoon…at a Thanksgiving Vespers…Should be quite an affair.

Tell Louis and Hugh the girls having been notified of their coming are champing at the bit…with impatience.  One little girl said she’d hold up announcing her engagement until she had a chance to look them over…’cause after all.  We are EXPECTING THEM on the morning of December 1st.  the last dinner party we went to (last Sunday afternoon)… had places for them all set-up…The good lady understood they were coming that week-end.

Well…so-long…WRITE!