O – OSCAR Hand

This is my tenth A to Z Challenge. My first was in 2013, but I missed 2021. This April I am going through the alphabet using snippets about my family through the generations.

Oscar Hand was born in Tuskegee, Alabama. He moved with his family to Detroit, Michigan after 1935. The family lived near to the Cleage family on Scotten and he became a lifelong family friend. Music was always very important to Mr. Hand and he studied and sang with the Robert N. Nolan Chorus for years. When I knew him he was the director of our church choir and I can still hear him singing in my mind. He had a very powerful baritone.

Oscar Hand, one of the founding members of the Shrine of the Black Madonna in Detroit. For many years he was the choir director at the Shrine of the Black Madonna in Detroit. In his later years he lost his sight due to glaucoma. Almost until the end, he still sang “Let Us Break Bread Together” now and then.

Mr. Hand was one of the founding members of the Freedom Now Party and ran for sheriff on that ticket in 1964. He was always active in the fight for civil rights, regularly picketing Sears and A & P during the 1960s, for jobs for black people. He was married to Frankie Warren Hand and they had one daughter. Oscar died at home on October 26, 1996.

Oscar hand center back, with guest conductor Robert N. Nolan in front. Senior choir, St. Marks’s Presbyterian Church. 1952.
The Detroit Free Press, Detroit, MI, 1952
Detroit Free Press, Detroit, Michigan Sat, Dec 10, 1949 · Page 15

This is the song Oscar Hand sang in the play described above.

Oscar Hand, left. Milton Henry speaking. Freedom Now Party meeting 1963.
Left to right: Oscar and Frankie Hand, my father Jaramogi & his sister Barbara/Nandi Martin, Leontine and Biliy Smith. Founders of Central Congregational Church that evolved into The Shrine of the Black Madonna.
#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter O

16 thoughts on “O – OSCAR Hand

  1. Neighbors and friends often have important influences on a family — as Oscar Hand did with yours. My adult neighbors and my parents’ friends were not as politically and religiously engaged as yours were, but I remember learning something from each of them that I took into adulthood.

  2. I enjoyed the song.
    He was a good looking man, particularly in that first photo he looks very stylish. And he had a fantastic smile.

  3. Can still hear him sing “ Lord help me to hold out u til my nation come(s).” The “armor bearer” and his wife Frankie sit sweetly in my memory.

    1. I never heard him sing that song as I left Detroit before those times. I learned about Oscar’s early singing experiences from Frankie. She use to receive our family newsletter and we printed an obituary for Oscar. She wrote and told us he sang with Paul Robeson once. I was looking for her note, which I didn’t find, and something about him singing with Paul Robeson. I didn’t find that either, but I found so many articles about him singing.

      Frankie was 101 when she passed a few years ago. I remember both of them fondly.

      Thank you for commenting over here.

    1. I was thinking how that generation pretty much lived in one house for their growing up years and into adulthood so the friends they made then often stayed with them the rest of their lives. Also attending the same church and growing up with those young people.

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