Susan Richardson Abbott seems to have had an easier time getting her widow’s pension than other’s I have read about. I believe it was because she had several important white citizens testify as to the truth of her statements and her good character. There was also testimony from several people that had been enslaved on the Col. Hazzard’s plantation on St. Simons Island.
This character reference was given by A. J. Crovatt, who was her employer and a well known attorney and eventually mayor in Brunswick, across the Mackay River from St. Simons Island.
State of Georgia, County of Glynn, ss:
In the matter of the application of Susan Abbott widow of Randolph Abbott because late private Co. “A” 33 Regt U. S. C. Inft
On this 5th day of January, A. D. 1895, personally appeared before me notary public in and for the aforesaid county, duly authorized to administer oaths, A. J. Corvatt aged 36 years, a resident of Brunswick, in the County of Glynn, and State of Georgia. Whose Post office address is Brunswick Georgia. Etc. etc.
Affiant has had Susan Abbott in his employ as a nurse for fourteen years and therefore knows her well. She is now in the employ of his family and has always been and is a faithful servant – reliable, trustworthy and truthful – She is as well as can be properly written in the neighborhood of seventy (70) years and is therefore feeble and will not be able to work much longer – She is now from time to time complaining and is frequently forced to remain in her room and bed and be treated by a physician.
Affiant further states that he fully believes from his knowledge of all the parties concerned their characters and the character o Susan Abbott that all of the statements made in and concerning her application for pension are true.
In making this affidavit I am not prompted by any written or printed statements or recital prepared or dictated by any other person but make it from knowledge gained from personal acquaintance with said Susan Abbott and her witnesses.
And we further declare that we have no interest in said case, and that we are not concerned in its prosecution
A. J. Corvatt (signature of affiants)
This is the sixth post about the life of Susan Richardson Abbott. You can read earlier parts of Susan Abbott’s story at these links.:
In 1890 Susan Richardson Abbott received a widow’s pension because of her husband Randolph Abbott’s service with the United States Colored Troops during the United States Civil War.
Today’s statement was made by fellow soldier, Wesley Lee. He testified several times during these pension hearings.
Click on any of the images to enlarge them.
State of Georgia, County of Glynn, ss:
In the matter of the application of Susan Abbott widow of Randolph Abbott deceased late private Co “A” 33 Regt USC infantry
Personally came before me a notary Public in and for aforesaid County and State Wesley Lee aged 66 years a citizen of the town of St. Simmons Mills, County of Glynn and State of Georgia. Well known to me to be reputable and entitled to credit and who being duly sworn declares in relation to aforesaid case as follows.
That Randolph Abbott who was a fellow comrade of mine in Co. “A” 33 Reg USC Infantry died on St. Simons Island Glynn County Georgia in the month of January 1874 and that he was with him at the time he died and saw him buried at St. Simons island at “West Point” burying grounds which is an old colored cemetery.
Affiant further declares that this affidavit was all written by W. B. Moore on the 6th day of August 1895 in his presence and only from his oral statements then made and that he made his oral statement to W. B. Moore and in making the same he did not use and were not aided or prompted by any written or printed statement or recital prepared or dictated by any other person and not attached as an exhibit to his testimony. And further declares that he has no interest in said case, and is not concerned in its prosecution.
Sworn to and Signed in the presence of L. M. Earhardt Wesley (his X mark) Lee M. L. Moore
This is the fifth post about the life of Susan Richardson Abbott. You can read earlier parts of Susan Abbott’s story at these links.:
In 1890 Susan Richardson Abbott received a widow’s pension because of her husband Randolph Abbott’s service with the United States Colored Troops during the United States Civil War.
Today there are two statements made concerning her marriage to the soldier, Randolph Abbott. The first are by two men who were also enslaved on Col. Hazzard’s plantation before Freedom. The second were made by the widow and daughter of a neighbor of Hazzard, Captain Stevens. Captain Stevens had the plantation next to Hazzard.
Click on any of the images to enlarge them.
State of Georgia, County of Glynn, SS:
In the matter of Pension of Susan Abbott
On this 18th day of May, A. D. 1894, personally appeared before me, a clerk County Court, in and for the aforesaid County, duly authorized to administer oats, Wesley Lee aged 70 years, a resident of St. Simons Island, in the County of Glynn, and state of Georgia, whose Post Office is St. Simons Island Ga, and Charles Ryals (about), aged 75 years, a resident of St. Simons Island, in the County of Glynn and State of Georgia, whose Post Office address is St. Simons Island, well know to be reputable and entitled to credit, and who, being duly sworn, declared in relation to aforesaid case, as follows;
(Affiants would state how they gained a knowledge of the facts to which they testify)
We lived on the same plantation with Randolph and Susan Abbott. We remember their marriage by white Episcopal minister (Mr. Brown) We moved back to the old home after the war. Sue never married again. Randolph and Sue was born and raised on West Point Plantation and owned by Col Hazzard.
Before the war Susan was a house servant, Randolph a farm hand. After the war, he was a farmer. Randolph was in bad health after he left the army until time of death, which took place Feb. 1875. We were with him when he was sick and at his death and attended his funeral. Randolph was tall and well made not quite black.
They had five children. Betsy, Louis, Brista, Joe Thomas.
Betsey and Louis died some years since.
Cannot give age of children.
And we further declare that we have no interest in said case, and that we are not concerned in its prosecution.
(If Affiants sign by mark, two witnesses who can write sign here) A. J. Corvatt A E Eve
(Affiants) Wesly Lee his X mark Charles Ryals his X mark
State of Georgia, County of Glynn SS:
In the matter of Pension of Susan Abbott
On this 18th day of May A. D. 1894 personally appeared before me, clerk of the Common Court in and for the aforesaid County, duly authorized to administer oaths, Annie F Arnold aged 50 years a resident of St. Simons Island in the County of Glynn, and state of Georgia whose Post Office address is St. Simons Island GA, and Sarah D. Stevens, aged 45 years, a resident of St. Simons Island, in the County of Glynn and State of Georgia, whose Post Office address is St. Simons Island Georgia, well known to be reputable and entitled to credit, and who, being duly sworn, declared in relation to aforesaid case, as follows:
(affiants should state how they gained a knowledge of the facts to which they testify)
Randolph and Susan Abbott were married by an Episcopal minister Rev Brown about the year 1852. (Am not certain about dates) The church books having been destroyed by fire it is impossible to get the certificate of marriage.
Their first child Betsy was born the following year and christened by same minister. Living on the next plantation and visiting their owners (Col Hazzard and family) we knew them well. After the war they returned to their old home and we saw them constantly. Susan did not marry after her husband’s death. They were good respectable people. Their P. O. address was Fredrica Ga at the time of their marriage. After the war ended they returned to their former home and same P .O. address until Randolph’s death, which happened, (I think) Feb 1875.
And we further declare that we have no interest in said case, and that we are not concerned in its prosecution
(If Affiants sign by mark, two witnesses who can write sign here) A J Corvatt A. E. Eve
(signature of Affiants) Annie F. Arnold Sarah D Stevens
In 1890 Susan Richardson Abbott received a widow’s pension because of her husband Randolph Abbott’s service with the United States Colored Troops during the United States Civil War. In the file were several statements by her then employer, Judge Crovatt and several former neighbors.
In 1903 she applied for an increase in her pension from $8 to $12 a month. In the deposition below she gives an overview of her life.
Click on any of the images to enlarge them.
Case of Susan Abbott ctf No. 416397 On this 4th day of August 1903 at Brunswick County of Glynn State of Ga before me, Don McClain a special examiner of the Bureau of pensions, personally appeared Susan Abbott who being by me first duly sworn to answer truly all interrogatories propounded to her during this special examination of aforesaid claim for pension, deposes and says: I am (blank) years of age; my post-office address is as above. I am a house servant.
I am the widow of Randolph Abbott, on account of whose service in the U.S army during the War of the Rebellion and subsequent death, I get a pension of $8 a month under the Act of June 27, 1890.
I can’t give my age. I had seven children when Charleston was taken. (She appears at least 65 years of age)
I was born in Charleston, S.C., the slave of Mr. Moon. 1He sold me to Ga. and I was the slave of Capt. Myers when freedom came. I can’t locate any of my white people now.
I married Randolph in slavery. I lived with him until he went in the war. We lived together about five years after the war when he died on St. Simon Island, Ga. I have not remarried since his death.
I have lived here with this family about 25 years
My husband was 6 feet tall and black. My claim was not examined before it was granted.
My husband served under Strawbridge and Capt. Walker. 2 They are the men he went away with. He was never called by any name except Randolph Abbott. He was the son of Tom Abbott.
I came down here long before the war. I met my husband here. He was born on St. Simon Island. He has a brother in Savannah. I mean a half brother. He is called Washington. I can’t give the other name.
I own no property at all. I have no income but my pension and what I cook for.
My husband died about five years after the war of a visur (?) in the throat. Dr. Wilson, dead, attended him in his last illness. He did not get a pension. He was never well after the war.
This is the only pension I ever applied for. I have not put in under the old law. I have no claim pending before the Pension Office at the present time.
Since the death of my husband I have lived no place except here in Brunswick.
I have forgotten the names of my original witnesses. Judge Crovatt is the only lawyer I had. I live with him. He charged me nothing. I keep my pension papers at the office of Judge Crovatt. I have never pledged them or either of them for money or thing of value. I do not go down town on signing day Judge Crovatt does that for me. He brings me $24 every time and puts it into my hand.
I have heard my answers and they are correct. Susan (her X mark) Abbott
The latter part of August, 1862, Captain C. T. Trowbridge, with his brother John and Lieutenant Walker, came to St. Simon’s Island from Hilton Head, by order of General Hunter, to get all the men possible to finish filling his regiment which he had organized in March, 1962. He had heard of the skirmish on this island, and was very much pleased at the bravery shown by these men. He found me at Gaston Bluff teaching my little school, and was muh interested in it. When I knew him better I found him to be a thorough gentleman and a staunch friend to my race.
Captain Trowbridge remained with us until October, when the order was received to evacuate, and so we boarded the Ben-De-Ford, a transport, for Beaufort, S. C. When we arrived in Beaufort, Captain Trowbridge and the men he had enlisted went to camp at Old Fort, which they named “Camp Saxton,” I was enrolled as laundress.
The first suits worn by the boys were red coats and pants, which they disliked very much, for, they said, “The rebels see us, miles away.”
The first colored troops did not receive any pay for eighteen months, and the men had to depend wholly on what they received from the commissary, established by General Saxton. A great many of these men had large families, and as they had no money to give them , their wives were obliged to support themselves and children by washing for the officers of the gunboats and the soldiers, and making cakes and pies which they sold to the boys in camp. Finally, in 1863, the government decided to give them half pay , but the men would not accept this . They wanted “ full pay ” or nothing. They preferred rather to give their services to the state , which they did until 1864, when the government granted them full pay , with all the back pay due.
Almost two hundred years ago Susan Richardson Abbot was born into slavery on the plantation of Thomas Boone in Charleston, SC. After Boone died 28 October, 1831, his wife began selling off land and people. https://findingeliza.com/archives/34332[↩]
He served under Trowbridge https://findingeliza.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/1962-Dec-19-enlisted-scaled.jpg[↩]
Twelve years ago, I wrote the following essay on how most of the Western broadcast news media consciously, willfully and, in my view, maliciously used selective editing to make the brilliant, exceptionally sincere African American freedom fighter Malcolm X look like a monster, as he often put it.
I used for my case study one the investigative programs produced by the widely respected British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). (Other BBC programs were fairer to Malcolm X.)
I built my study around a half-dozen BBC clips of a late June 1964 New York organizational rally that Malcolm X held exactly one month after his return from his historic religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
The date is important because the United Kingdom’s national broadcaster well knew that, by this time, Malcolm X had publicly repudiated the belief that its shameful editing suggested that he continued to espouse — namely, racism.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, the “Beeb” also deliberately perpetuated a popular fiction that, since around 1960, had helped news media purveyors gin up their print circulation and broadcast ratings: that Malcolm X advocated indiscriminate violence against “white” people — simply becausethey were “white.”
(As the son of a microbiologist father and a physician mother, it is impossible for me to swallow, and would be irresponsible for me to perpetuate, the dangerous, unscientific notion of “racial” differentiation in reference to the single human race.
(This sadly enduring fiction is the root of, and justification for, the lethal economic, political and psychological reality of racism. That’s why I qualify all “racial” terms by enclosing them within quotation marks.)
I’d hoped to post my composite video of these clips and my analysis of it on YouTube.com. However, to my great frustration, I couldn’t because that social media platform limits its descriptions to 5,000 characters.
Moreover, its descriptions don’t allow for footnotes, which I considered essential because I wanted to fully document my assertions about this type of news media malfeasance, which non-“white” peoples are very familiar with.
Last week, I chanced upon my old essay on an external hard drive and thought that it was still worthwhile. However, I was no more capable of sharing it now, in the form that I originally conceived it, than I was a dozen years ago.
Enter Kristin Cleage, my spiritual big sister, who moderates this wonderful family history blog.
When I asked her if she might consider posting the video and my essay, even though it wasn’t directly related to her family, she readily agreed.
(Perhaps she did so because her late father, Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman, formerly the Rev. Albert B. Cleage, Jr., founder of the Shrines of the Black Madonna of the Pan African Orthodox Christian Church [PAOCC], suffered precisely the same kind of news media demonization.)
I asked Kristin to post my essay as I’d written it in 2010. However, since, in the intervening years, eight of the video links had expired, I needed to replace them. I was blessed to do so with one exception — an old BBC Web page.
I pray that what you’re about to read justifies Kristin’s great generosity. — PL.
Composite video of Malcolm X’s speech at a Muslim Mosque, Inc. (MMI) rally in the Rose Ballroom of the Audubon Ballroom, 3940 Broadway at 166th Street, Washington Heights, N. Y., on June 21, 1964.
Six video excerpts have recently been made available online, but they are out of their original sequence. 1 The writer did his best to restore their proper order, using a nearly complete audiotape of the speech as a guide. 2
Becoming His Own Man
After Malcolm X felt compelled to break with Elijah Muhammad’s religiously sectarian, “race”-centered Nation of Islam (NOI) on March 8, 1964, he formed the Muslim Mosque, Inc. (MMI), a black nationalist group, which had a version of the NOI’s Islam as its “religious base.” 3
Two months later, following Malcolm X’s historic hajj, or religious pilgrimage, to the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia, where he rejected the NOI’s racism and abandoned its belief in separate “black” states as the solution to the African American problem, he made a tour of several West African nations, most of them newly independent.
While visiting Accra, Ghana, he and a group of “Afro-American” expatriates established a nonreligious, pan-Africanist group, which, after its New York branch was founded at the Audubon Ballroom on June 28, 1964, became known as the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). 4
The OAAU sought to create a “united black front” of all civil-rights organizations 5 and unite “black” people in the Western hemisphere with “black” people in Africa and throughout the world.
Upon Malcolm X’s return to the U. S., the MMI embraced traditional (Sunni) Islam.
From March 15, 1964, until Feb. 21, 1965, when Malcolm X was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom by a six-man 6 “special squad” of NOI members from Newark and Paterson, N. J., 18 of the 21 public rallies of the MMI and the OAAU addressed by Malcolm X were held at the Audubon 7 — all but one in the large Grand Ballroom. That exception was the rally held at the smaller, adjacent Rose Ballroom, on June 21, 1964, featured in the BBC video.
On the afternoon of Malcolm X’s final rally, two New York City patrolmen were secreted in this ballroom in case of trouble. When the shots that killed Malcolm X rang out, they alerted a nearby police detail by walkie-talkie. 8
Twenty years later, the Rose Ballroom had a brief rebirth and become internationally famous, if unrecognized, when it was used as “The Magic Club” in pop singer Madonna’s first major movie, Desperately Seeking Susan (1985). 9
How the ‘White’ News Media Distorted Malcolm X and His Message
The Rose Ballroom rally was filmed by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for a program titled Enquiry: The Angry Ghettos, which was broadcast at Britain on July 15, 1964. 10
However, how the BBC used what it filmed is illustrative of how the “white” news media, particularly in the U. S. and Britain, often distorted Malcolm X and his message through selective editing.
Malcolm X spoke for over an hour, but the BBC broadcast a little more than two minutes of his remarks — surely a small fraction of what it filmed. When one compares the nearly complete audio recording with the BBC excerpts, two things emerge.
Firstly, it’s clear that the BBC excerpts were chosen for their shock value, highlighting Malcolm X’s criticisms of “whites” and his comments on violence.
Edited in this way, the excerpts suggest that, despite Malcolm X’s recent philosophical evolution — which made worldwide print and broadcast news, including at Britain — he was still the two-dimensional caricature advocating hatred of and violence against “whites” that the Western news media had portrayed him as when he was still the NOI’s national representative and New York minister.
For example, in the BBC excerpts, Malcolm X speaks of striking “blows” and “taking action — any kind of action,” and talks metaphorically of African Americans burning down the “house” if they were denied their “equal share.”
However, because this excerpt was ripped out of context, the viewer has no way of knowing that Malcolm X was speaking of striking blows and taking action against oppression, in whatever forms it might present itself, not of physically attacking “whites.” He added that such blows should be “intelligently directed.”
To the extent that Malcolm X ever spoke of the latter, he was advocating self-defense — armed, if necessary — against violent “white” racists. On those rare occasions when he suggested retaliatory violence, it was in instances where the governmental or police were “unwilling or unable” to respond to racist attacks on “black” life and property.
Also, during the question and answer period, which the BBC filmed portions of, Malcolm X did speak of violent threats, but, in this case, he was referring to the NOI’s threats against him. 11
Moreover, Malcolm X strongly condemned a new state “anti-Negro law,” 12 which he believed would give the New York City Police Department encouragement and sanction to inflict even more brutality upon African Americans than it was already doing. But none of this appears in the BBC excerpts.
Similarly, in the BBC excerpts, Malcolm X speaks of “the man that kidnapped and brought us here, who made a slave out of us, who hung us on trees, who raped our mothers.” Again, wrenched out of context, this comment seems like a racist attack on “whites.”
However, the BBC almost certainly filmed, but apparently chose not to use the remark that almost immediately followed this, which is one of the clearest statements of Malcolm X’s mature, Sunni Islamic philosophy — based on judging deeds, not “race”:
“So, one of the things that we don’t want to do is fall into that trap where they can call us racists. I’m not a racist myself. I don’t endorse or practice anything that anyone can classify as racism. No. … If someone treats us all right, we treat them all right. But if they don’t treat us all right, we don’t treat them all right. That’s not racism.” 13
Also in the BBC excerpts, Malcolm X declares, “anyone — anyone — who stands in the way of your and my freedom, our human dignity, is a cold-blooded, blue-eyed enemy.”
This secular appropriation of the NOI’s famous theological characterization of “white” people as “blue-eyed devils” was not an expression of racism, but rather an attempt to galvanize African Americans against the “white” power structure.
Saying ‘No’ to Mr. Charlie
Such comments also served as a cathartic release for the pent-up frustrations and anger of African Americans, which were often turned inward into self-destruction or outward into hurting one another.
Malcolm X hoped that, once this “abundance of energy, both negative and positive,” was released, it could “then be channel constructively,” as he told a reporter for The Village Voice newspaper the month before he was assassinated.
“‘The greatest mistake of the Movement,’” he continued in a now-classic exchange, “‘has been trying to organize a sleeping people around specific goals. You have to wake people up first, then you’ll get action.’
“Wake them up to their exploitation?”
“‘No, to their humanity, to their own worth, and to their heritage. The biggest difference between the parallel oppression of the Jew and the Negro is that the Jew never lost his pride in being a Jew. He never ceased to be a man. He knew that he had made a significant contribution to the world, and his sense of his own value gave him the courage to fight back. It enabled him to act and think independently, unlike our people and our leaders.’”
“The hostility is good,” Malcolm X said at another point. “It’s been bottled up too long. When we stop always saying yes to Mr. Charlie and turning the hate against ourselves, we will begin to be free.” 14 (African Americans in urban centers used the term “Mr. Charlie” interchangeably with “The Man,” denoting powerful “whites” or the “white” power structure.)
Such a rhetorical approach was neither novel nor foreign. Like leaders of social movements around the world — including at Britain — Malcolm X was willing and able to “use a negative attack to produce a positive goal.” 15
Secondly, Malcolm X’s speech was liberally sprinkled with his characteristic use of humor and examples his deep interest in and grasp of history and world affairs.
Although viewers of the BBC excerpts would never know it, Malcolm X discussed the history of modern China and India, delivered an exceptionally sophisticated analysis of the civil-rights movement and its relationship to the administration of the martyred President John F. Kennedy and offered life wisdom, such as the following:
“We [African Americans] need brotherhood. You can never have brotherhood without love; you can never have love without patience; and you can never have patience without understanding.” 16
Even if the BBC’s chief interest was in presenting Malcolm X as an example of the growing militancy among African Americans, it could have done so without flattening his persona into that of an angry man 17 — period.
The BBC’s New York film crew and the program’s producers and director had footage demonstrating that Malcolm X was more than a convenient boogie-man, more than just a “militant” stick figure.
In fact, he was no less charismatic, charming and compelling than, for example, Jack Kennedy. Yet the Western news media always seemed to capture these qualities in Kennedy, no matter how short or angled its presentations of the “news” were.
But the BBC did more than cheat its viewers of a greater appreciation of other facets of Malcolm X. By stripping the speech excerpts of their broader social context, which Malcolm X articulated in other parts of his talk that were filmed, the BBC also removed the reasons why he and millions of other African Americans were angry and becoming more militant, thus subordinating causes to effects.
But Malcolm X, who approved the BBC’s filming of the rally, seems to have anticipated the likely outcome. During the question period, he announced that the following week’s rally would unveil a new organization (the OAAU) and asked the audience to help promote it, explaining his reason thusly:
“I might say [that] the reason we’re asking you to spread the word is we have found that whenever we send any kind of [news] release to the press, weekly or daily, concerning our — any upcoming meeting that we’re going to have, nothing is said.” [Man in audience: “That’s right.”]
“However, the press will sneak in here and try and get a few words that we say so that they can blow it up and dis — distort it and blow it up. They use it [access] that way.” 18
Thus, the BBC had, and threw way, a rare opportunity to not only show the growing militancy of African Americans, but also to fairly portray one of the “militant” wing of the movement’s most mature and visionary leaders, one of the few who might have been capable of turning the anger of the “ghettos” toward “constructive” purposes.
Four days after the BBC program The Angry Ghettos aired, the Harlem tinderbox finally exploded, soon to be followed by other “black” communities in the first of a series of urban uprisings that would characterize that and the next four summers.
By chance, Malcolm X was at Cairo, Egypt, where he had gone a week before to warn a summit conference of African heads of state of a coming “blood bath” in the U. S. Before he had a chance to try to channel this “abundance of energy” in advance of the next summer, he was slain by an NOI hit squad in the Audubon’s Grand Ballroom.
When I wrote my case study 12 years ago, the only visual evidence of Malcolm X’s June 21, 1964, Muslim Mosque, Inc., rally that I knew of were the six BBC video clips.
The Bee Man
However, a few years ago, I was delighted to discover on Getty Images, the giant British-U.S. visual media company, seven still photographs that were shot for Time Life by the late Burt Shavitz.
If his name sounds familiar, it’s because he later became a successful beekeeper and businessman, who created the popular Burt’s Bees line of personal care products.
For the now-defunct PIX, Inc., Shavitz had shot Malcolm X when he was still the Nation of Islam’s national representative and Harlem minister, addressing an outdoor rally in front of the Stephen Foster Homes at Lenox Avenue between 115th and 116th streets on July 13, 1963:
Shavitz would later memorialize Malcolm X’s Harlem funeral on Feb. 27, 1965 (Phyllis Austin, Queen Bee: Roxanne Quimby, Burt’s Bees, and Her Quest for a New National Park [Thomaston, Maine. Tilbury House, 2015]; sadly, no images of this are available online).
Like the BBC, neither Time Life nor Getty Images had any idea where or precisely when Shavitz’s 1964 photos were taken, but, significantly, they showed Malcolm X displaying a range of emotions, including one of him laughing.
However, for some reason/s, Time Life last year stopped using Getty Images as a vendor for its vast offerings, so Shavitz’s photos of this rally are no longer available there.
Fortunately, “twixnmix,” a blogger on the tumblr.com microblogging and social networking site, posted and, in the process, preserved for posterity all of them, which you could see here: twixmix Malcolm photos.
The audiotape is in the archives of Best Efforts, Inc. (BEI), a professional research and consulting service specializing in the recovery, preservation and promotion of global “black” history and culture, which is directed by the writer. The audiotape ends during the question period. Since I could not match two of the video excerpts (parts 3 and 6) to the audiotape, I assumed that they occurred during the question period. Therefore, along Part 2, which is silent, I attached them to the end of the composite video.[↩]
Malcolm X news statement, delivered at the Park Sheraton Hotel, New York City, March 12, 1964, in George Breitman, ed., Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements (New York: Grove-Evergreen Black Cat, 1965), p. 21. The NOI-like “base” was intended to provide “the spiritual force necessary to rid our people of the vices that destroy the moral fiber of our community.” Despite this, Malcolm X wanted the MMI “to provide for the active participation of all Negroes, despite their religious or non-religious beliefs” (Ibid.). However, he soon discovered that its religious name alienated those who were not interested in Islam or religion.[↩]
With only one exception, all of the biographers, writers and editors on Malcolm X have missed the fact that the OAAU was founded at Ghana, not New York, despite the fact that Malcolm X explicitly said so in his “Last Message” to Detroit a week before his assassination. In discussing his meetings with “Afro-Americans” who were working in government or business at various West African nations, he said: “…when I went through one country in particular [Nigeria], I heard a lot of their complaints [about supporting the African American struggle] and I didn’t make any move on them, but when I got to another country [Ghana], I found the Afro-Americans there were making the same complaints. So we sat down and talked and we organized a branch, in this particular country, a branch of the OAAU, Organization of Afro-American Unity, and that one was the only one in existence at that time.”
Malcolm X’s speech at Detroit’s riverfront Ford Auditorium on Feb. 14, 1965, was tape-recorded by Milton Henry, who posthumously released a lightly edited version of it as a long-playing record, The Last Message (Discos Hablando, undated), now available on several sites, including “Malcolm X: A Research Site”: http://www.brothermalcolm.net/aug04index.html.
At least three separate transcripts, none of them complete or wholly faithful, are available in print or online, only the first of which was based on the unedited tape: Breitman, pp. 157-77 at 159; Steve Clark, ed., February 1965: The Final Speeches (New York: Pathfinder, 1992), pp. 75-105 at 78; and Noaman Ali, ed., “After the Bombing/Speech at Ford Auditorium,” on Ali’s site, http://www.malcolm-x.org/speeches/spc_021465.htm [May 2010][Expired link replaced]. Ali’s transcript is mostly based on Clark’s. It was Clark who noted, “The first branch of the OAAU was organized in Ghana…” (Clark, p. 276, n. 45).[↩]
The most extensive treatment of these efforts, which were initiated by Malcolm X in earnest at a “secret summit,” as this writer’s calls it, at the home of Juanita Poitier, the estranged wife of famed actor Sidney Poitier, on June 15, 1964, are in an unpublished article and several unpublished email letter-essays by this writer: Paul Lee, “More than a eulogy: Ossie Davis and Malcolm X,” a memorial submitted to, but declined by, The Michigan Citizen (Detroit) on Feb. 7, 2005; Lee email letter to Queen Mother Osun Dara Nefertiti-El, “What REAL Atonement Looks Like,” Oct. 19, 2005, 11:04 PM; Lee email letter to Peter Goldman, cc’d to Taylor Branch and Silas Norman, “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. & Malcolm X: The Lost Opportunities,” April 12, 2006, 2:49 PM; and Lee email letter to Louis A. DeCaro, Jr., “Capt. John Brown and Ol’ John Killens,” May 6, 2009, 9:39 PM
Background on Malcolm X’s more modest efforts to forge a “united black front” during his tenure in the NOI — which were limited by Elijah Muhammad’s conservatism — could be found in Lee email letter to Goldman, “A Hot September: The Nucleus of Black Unity,” March 15, 2006, 5:28 PM.[↩]
Malcolm X’s best biographer, former Newsweek writer and editor Peter Goldman, was the first published author to note that a sixth man was a part of the five-man team that actually assassinated Malcolm X. He acted as a decoy to distract the attention of Malcolm X’s bodyguards. The New York City Police Department identified him as a lieutenant of the New Jersey Fruit of Islam (FOI), the NOI’s all-male “class,” which served as the group’s security force (Peter Goldman, The Death and Life of Malcolm X, 2d ed. [Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1974, 1979], pp. 270, 294, 316). In fact, he was the minister of Muhammad’s Mosque No. 80, Plainfield, N. J. (Paul Lee email letter to Peter Goldman, “Setting Conspiracy Nonsense to Rest,” April 24, 2010, 1:54 AM.[↩]
The three public rallies addressed by Malcolm X that were not held at the Audubon Ballroom were as follows: March 15, 1964 (Dawn Casino, Harlem); March 22, 1964 (Rockland Palace, Harlem); and, apparently, May 31, 1964 (Tuscan Ballroom, also known as Tuscan Hall). All of the organizational rallies addressed by Malcolm X were held on Sunday except one (Feb. 15, 1965; it was held on a Monday because Malcolm X had committed himself to address a Detroit meeting sponsored by his dear friend attorney Milton R. Henry). All of these rallies were held in the evening, usually at 8:00 p. m., except one (Feb. 21, 1965, scheduled for 2:00 p. m., it didn’t begin until shortly after 3:00 p. m., when Malcolm X was assassinated. A handful of OAAU rallies were held, also at the Audubon, during Malcolm X’s 18-week tour abroad from July-November 1964, but were only sparsely attended.[↩]
Goldman, p. 269. The patrolmen were John Carroll and Gilbert Henry.[↩]
Richard Alleman, New York: The Movie Lover’s Guide: The Ultimate Insider Tour of Movie New York (New York: Random House, 2005), p. 380.) [↩]
Indeed, in light of the tension between himself and the NOI, which considered him an apostate and the “Chief Hypocrite” (a brand that, as he well understood, made his life expendable to the NOI faithful), Malcolm X titled the topic of the rally “Brotherhood and the Importance of It In the Harlem Area.”[↩]
The act that Malcolm X referred to was the “Stop-and-Frisk” statute, which was signed into law in early March 1964 and became active on July 1, 1964. It granted police the right to stop persons upon reasonable suspicion of felonious conduct (Richard H. Kuh, “Reflections on New York’s ‘Stop-and-Frisk’ Law and Its Claimed Unconstitutionality,” The Journal of Law, Criminality & Police Science 56 , p. 32). It was related to the “No-knock” or “Knock-Not” statute, a warrant that allowed police to enter a property without knocking or identifying themselves as police. Both statutes, which quickly became infamous among African Americans, were part of the New York Code of Criminal Procedure.[↩]
Audiotape of Malcolm X speech, “Brotherhood and the Importance of It In the Harlem Area,” Audubon Ballroom, New York, June 21, 1964, BEI Archives.[↩]
Marlene Nadle, “Malcolm X: The Complexity Of a Man in the Jungle,” The Village Voice (New York), Feb. 25, 1965, pp. 1, 6 and 19 at 6. This article has been reprinted and excerpted in several collections, but all have taken some liberties in editing it, which is why I quoted from the original article.[↩]
Ibid. Nadle added: “To a white ear the attacks will sound like the rantings of a racist. “I care about all people,” Malcolm X told Nadle, “but especially about black people. I’m a Muslim. My religion teaches me brotherhood, but doesn’t make me a fool.”[↩]
Malcolm X speech, “Brotherhood and the Importance of It In the Harlem Area,” Audubon Ballroom, New York, June 21, 1964, BEI Archives.[↩]
This term harkens back to “God’s Angry Men,” a column that Malcolm X wrote in 1957-58 for three African-American newspapers: The Los Angeles Herald-Dispatch, New York Amsterdam News and The Westchester Observer (Westchester County, N. Y.).[↩]
Audiotape of Malcolm X speech, “Brotherhood and the Importance of It In the Harlem Area.” [↩]
In 1930 the Cleage family lived on the Old West Side in Detroit, Michigan. In this neighborhood everybody was identified as Neg(ro) in the 1930 Census.
“The trickle of Black people living outside of Black Bottom would grow exponentially in the decade following the Sweet trials. By the late 1930s, middle class African Americans are firmly ensconced in four other neighborhoods in Detroit:
Paradise Valley – the business and entertainment district north of Black Bottom in the area now occupied by Ford Field, Comerica Park, 36th District Court and the Chrysler Freeway
Conant Gardens – the northeast neighborhood between Conant & Ryan (west and east) and 7 Mile & Nevada (north and south),
The North End – the neighborhood situated Woodward (west), the city of Hamtramck (east) E. Grand Boulevard (south) and the city of Highland Park (north),
And the Old Westside – bounded by Grand River (East), Buchanan (South), Tireman (North) & Epworth (West).
However, those 4 neighborhoods primarily opened up for middle class Black Detroiters.”
On the enumeration sheet with the Albert and Pearl Cleage family were 50 people in six houses in seven households. Five had a few lodgers, five had extended family members – sibling, parents, cousins. All seven had radios. All of the houses were owned by people living there. One of the houses had another family renting part of their house.
There were 34 adults on the page. 30 of them had been born in the south. One was born in Canada, one was born in Iowa and two were born in Michigan. They are all literate. Three of the men were vets of World War 1. Ten were not vets. One of the men was an employeer. He was a contractor. Two worked on their own account, a barber and my grandfather, a physician . Eighteen people worked for wages. Five women worked outside of the home. Three were married, one was divorced and one was single.
All of the children under 18 were born in Michigan. There were two eighteen year olds. One was born in Michigan and one was born in Alabama. All of the school age children, including the two eighteen year olds, were attending school.
The Albert and Pearl Cleage Family
My grandparent’s parents, my great grandparents, were born into slavery. My grandfather was born in 1883 in Louden Tennessee. He was 46 when the 1930 census was taken. He was a physician working on his own account, that is he had his own office at 4224 McGraw, which was some blocks from the house. He and Pearl Reed had married when he was 27. Although it says Pearl was 21 when they married, she was actually 26. She was born in Kentucky and did not work outside of the home.
They had seven children and all were still living at home and attending school. My father, Albert B. Cleage Jr. was the oldest and had been born in Indianapolis. He was eighteen. He had graduated from Northwestern High School in 1929 and was attending what is now Wayne State University.
Louis was sixteen and attended Northwestern High School. Henry was fourteen and also at McMichael Junior High or Northwestern. Hugh was eleven and probably still at Wingert Elementary school. Barbara was nine, Gladys was seven and Anna was five. All three would have been attending Wingert Elementary. Anna was in kindergarten and only attended half a day.
Albert’s mother, Anna Celia Sherman lived with them and is listed as 76. She was born in Tennessee. She died the following month after suffering a stroke. Her body was taken back to Athens for burial.
Two of Albert’s brothers lived in Detroit in 1930. One, Jake, lived several blocks from the house on Scotten. The other, Henry, lived further away although by 1940 he was in the neighborhood too.
My grandfather Mershell C Graham was the son of Mary Jackson Graham who we saw auctioned off with her family after the death of slave holder Crawford Motley Jackson in 1860. We move forward 70 years to 1930 and see what the life of the Graham family was like during that decade. Click on any image to enlarge in another window.
The decade began with the Graham’s living in the house at 6638 Theodore where they had been for almost seven years. There were five family members – Mershell (42), Fannie (40), Mary Virginia (10), Doris(7) and Howard(almost 2). They owned their home which was valued at $8,000. They owned at least one radio. Everyone was identified as Neg(ro). Mershell and Fannie had been married ten years.
Both Mershell and Fannie had been born in Alabama, as had their parents. They were 32 and 30 when they married. Both were literate. The children were all born in Michigan. The two oldest girls attended school. Howard was too young.
Mershell was working as a stock keeper in an auto factory for wages. He had been at work the day before the census taker came to the house. He was a citizen and not a veteran. Fannie had not worked outside of the home in the past year.
There were 50 names on this census sheet. Aside from the Jordan family who lived next door to the Grahams, everyone on the page was white, a number having been born in other countries. None of the males on this census sheet had served in the armed forces. All of the school age children were attending school. Three men were unemployed. One of the married women worked outside of the home as a laundress.. There were three widows. One was 70 years old, lived with her son and did not work outside the home. One worked as a servant and one as a laundress. Both for private families. One single daughter worked as a telephone operator. One single sister-in-law worked as a “janitress” in a steel factory. All of the adults were literate. One household Had spoken Polish and one German & French, before coming to the United States. Fifteen people were born in Michigan. Others were born in Canada, Ohio, Scotland, Poland, Pennsylvania, England, Missouri, Washington, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, Alabama and Switzerland.
These statistics only include the people on the enumeration page. Not all of the people on the map below were included on the same page as my family.
Last spring I looked at the probate record of Crawford Motley Jackson and found the enslaved listed by family groups, all 135 of them. One of those groups was made up of my 2 x great grandmother Prissy and her children, including my great grandmother Mary. I wrote that up in Appraisement of the Negroes Belonging to the Estate of C. M. Jackson
C. M. Jackson died in February 1860. In December of that year, the administrator of the estate, Crawford M. Jackson’s brother Absalom Jackson and other family members who were heirs to the estate, agreed to sell land and 19 of the 135 enslaved, including the seven members of my family – Prissy and her six children.
State of Alabama Autauga County
22 Dec 1860
This instrument following that on Thursday 20th December a meeting was held between Absalom Jackson admin of Crawford M. Jackson deceased who as distributor of said estate was entitled to one half there of, Mrs. Temperance E. Young, Nimrod W Long (represented under a power of attorney by James O. Long) James O. Long, Evans A Long, and Lunceford C Long each of the last being entitled as distributed to one fifth part of the other half of said estate – and Mrs. Temperance Jackson who by agreement with all the distributes above named had released her claim to the indebtedness due her by the estate for an assignment of all said distributes of one sixth part of the said estate – this meeting was held for the purpose in the first place of setting apart the slaves to be sold by the administrate for the payment of debts under the decree? Of this court of probate already made.
2. Secondly to set apart to Mrs. Temperance Jackson one sixth part of the negroes (sic) remaining for division – thirdly to set apart to Absalom Jackson and the other distributes above named their respective share of the negroes (sic) remaining for division during these – by agreement between the parties the ??? named slaves were set apart to be sold by the administrator for payment of debts under the decree above referred to, to wit
names ages estimate value
1. Coosa 13 $1065.00 2. Lucy 13 1030.00 3. Fanny 15 1500.00 4. Mathew 31 1400.00 7. Justin & 2 children 26 1400.00 8. Naomi 8 550.00 9. Rush 6 400.00 10 Jenny Lind 5 275.00 11 Anna 2 200.00 12 Prissy 35 1000.00. My 2X great grandmother 13 Harjo 9 900.00 14 Griffin 8 900.00 15 Frank Prince 6 650.00 16 Jim Buck 23 1500.00 17 Delila child of Prissy 2 200.00 18 Iba “ 12 1004.00 19 Mary “ 4 450.00. My great grandmother
Which negroes (sic) are retained by the audit for sale as above – stated, the value set down being taken from the appraisement, but it being appointed that slaves are not worth as much …
Things I wonder – Who bought them? A family member or someone else? Was the family kept together? Why were these particular people chosen to be auctioned off? In 1870, the first census after Freedom, the whole family appears together. Except for Harjo. Did he die? Was he sold away? Did he change his name?
If you can make out any of the words I skipped or any of the words I wrote but may have transcribed wrong, please let me know!
I looked at Sanborn maps to locate the members of the Edelweiss Club. First I had to find out where they lived. In the items in The Emancipator the address of the house where the meeting was to be hosted was often given, but that didn’t happen every time and it didn’t tell me where the other members lived, nor where they were in relationship to each other. I did what I do when I am studying people, I made each of them a tree on ancestry.com. All 37 of them, or as many as I could find.
I searched for them in the Montgomery City Directory for 1919 or in the U.S. census for 1920. Those gave me their addresses and their occupation. If I found the census and they were living with their families (most were) I also found their ages, their parents ages and occupations and information about their siblings. With that information I could start a tree later to learn more. At the beginning, I just wanted to find basic information for my blog post and then I wanted to find where they lived. When I decided to write something about them for National Novel Writing Month, I created more complete trees to find out when they moved to Montgomery, if they married, if they moved out of Montgomery to points North, East and West.
Where did the women live in Montgomery? Were they spread out or did they live near each other? I have only been to Montgomery twice, once in 1975 and once in 2009. I knew where the neighborhood my grandmother had lived in was, and it was mostly torn down and absorbed into downtown Montgomery. The building that housed her uncle Victor Tulane’s grocery store, was still standing, but that was about it. What churches did the members attend? Were they active in church work? Did they sing in a group? For those that worked in a family business, as my grandmother Fannie Turner did, where was the business located? Was there (hopefully) an old and faded photograph of it in the paper? Was there, perhaps a photo of the young woman in the newspaper? And a question difficult to find an answer to, were the unidentified women in my grandmother’s photo album Edelweiss members?
While looking for information, I came across a document about gentrifying, they called it “rehabbing”. It the area where Victor Tulane’s store was and they gave me a name for the neighborhood where the store, my family and most of the Edelweiss members lived – The Centennial Community, a historic black Montgomery community. Some of the churches and schools and a few of my family had lived in the black community known as West Montgomery. That was where Washington Park, where the last dance was held, was located. It was on the other side of town from the Centennial Community. I found where the “Peacock Tract”, an early black, community was located and why there was a school way up in the northeast part of the city – another smaller, black community. Some of these questions I have answered – I found most of the members lived within walking distance of each other. At least so it looks on the map. I found all of my family members living within walking distance of each other. I located cemeteries, churches, drugstores, and private schools. There were a number of schools that were not a part of the public school system that had been started by northern missionaries after the Civil War. Aside from finding where the young women lived using the Sanborn maps, I was also able to find the relative size of the houses and schools. For the schools and churches, the type of heat and the source of light was given. If the streets were paved or not was more information. Most of the streets were not paved. Some of the schools had no heat. Lights were lanterns, or big windows in some cases. Reading the news articles, there were many drives by black citizens to raise money to repair schools, buy equipment and even built new additions.
During the time of the Edelweiss Club – 1918 – 1919, a flu pandemic raged. Schools were closed and then opened. Students returned to Montgomery from Fisk and Tuskegee due to the pandemic. People appeared on the sick list in The Emancipator newspaper. Some died.
The United States became involved in the first world war. Times were far from calm and peaceful, but the women met and ate delicious refreshments, played whist, went to work, and lived their lives a hundred years ago.
Who were the members of the Edelweiss Club? Thirty-seven women attended the monthly meetings judging from news items that appeared in The Emancipator, beginning on January 12, 1918 and continuing monthly during the school year, until May 3, 1919. Some were members and some were guests and not all were present at every meeting. Thirty of them were teachers. One was a seamstress. Three worked in family businesses. The other three were not employed and were relatives of members. Most of the members were single, some married as time went on. Some moved out of town. A good number never married.
All of them came from literate homes. Most of their parents owned their homes, either free and clear or mortgaged. Their fathers tended to work for themselves as barbers, carpenters and plasterers. Bertha Loveless’ father was an undertaker. Madge Brown’s father was a farmer. Alberta Boykin’s father was a mail carrier. Several lived with their widowed mother or an aunt. Most had multiple siblings.
Their parents were born in the mid 1850s to 1870 and would have been teenagers when slavery ended or were born during Reconstruction. Several were from families that were free before the Civil war. There were several clusters of cousins descended from unrelated women who were free and living in Montgomery before the Civil War.
There were no more reported meetings after May 3, 1919. The last event was a picnic dance given on June 16, just 3 days before my grandparents, Mershell and Fannie (Turner) Graham married and immediately moved to Detroit.