Remembering Ossie Davis at the Apollo with Fisk’s Jubilee Singers

Ossie_Ruby Collage

A large, beautiful, personally autographed photograph of Ruby and Ossie hung over my mother’s piano at home. It was a gift to her when her album Irene Day – He’s Everywhere was released. I had gifted them with a personal copy of the album.They both loved her soprano voice.

As president of my alma mater’s New York Alumni Association, Ossie had graciously agreed to serve as emcee for an event I chaired – a free concert presenting the historic Fisk Jubilee Singers at The Apollo Theater for the high school students of New York City, sponsored by Pfizer Corporation. Ossie agreed with one condition; that I write his prepared remarks.

I gladly agreed to the assignment. As a graduate of Howard University, Ossie Davis understood the importance of black students understanding the origins of black American music. And the Jubilee Singers embody the excellence and originality of African American music traditions in spirituals, slave songs, and sacred African American song – perhaps more than any group in history.

The busloads of energetic students arrived, noisy and playful, and packed the theater quickly. Ossie and I had spoken the evening before and I knew he had an early emergency dental appointment and might be running a few minutes late. I was getting nervous after the Apollo’s director and the governor’s surrogate had welcomed the Singers to New York and thanked the students and teachers for being there. Ossie had not arrived and that meant the task of emcee would fall on “moi.”

Luckily, I had written his prepared remarks as a script – a familiar form for the highly accomplished actor and great playwright. As the young Hip Hop-crazed audience grew more boisterous and rambunctious, I began to wonder just how they’d receive the show and whether Ossie would get there in time to bail me out of being the default Master of Ceremonies for 1300 unimpressed middle and high school kids.

Then, from stage right, the tall distinguished black man’s profile appeared off stage. I greeted him and asked him how he felt. He said, “About like you’d feel after a root canal.” I grimaced. He laughed heartily and that put me at ease. We quickly went over key points in the script. He the said, “Right, Dennis, show time!” After Ossie was introduced, the audience calmed down a bit.

Ossie brilliantly brought the words and context into focus for a generation of young people who had no clue what struggles black artists endured during and after Reconstruction to gain critical acclaim as the Fisk Jubilee Singers had achieved. After their first song – always acappela and unaccompanied – the theater was in rapt silence, and except for thunderous applause, remained appreciative through the end.

Ossie handed me the script as I thanked him and his chauffeur for traversing Manhattan traffic to accommodate this event. We both smiled broadly, knowing that the students would always remember hearing their ancient voices and hallowed history in song as performed by the Fisk Jubilee Singers.

In two weeks I will join my class reunion at Fisk in Nashville, and I’ll also donate the script marked on by the great thespian himself to the John Hope Franklin Library on campus. That large framed portrait of Ossie and Ruby that for years graced my mother’s living room was donated to the East Chicago public libraries special exhibits section.

D.Day Media 2018

 

Dennis Llewellyn Day – A Journey to Jazz

  Adapted from an article by Valerie Gladstone

WhiteHat©EnidFarberFoto

When Dennis Llewellyn Day was growing up in East Chicago, Indiana, he fully expected to work in a steel mill after high school. Music may have been his birthright but, being practical, he thought it had to remain a sideline. “I always sang,” says the tall, handsome tenor. “My family has been blessed with the gift of music.” His mother, Irene Day, was a well-known church soloist and concert singer and his sister is classically trained.

Over the years, Day made sure music wouldn’t remain a sideline. Teaching and counseling may have occupied his days but singing filled his nights. Jazz aficionados in Chicago, Washington DC, and New York have become as familiar with his sweet voice as the East Chicago churchgoers of his boyhood.

Never one to do things half-heartedly, Day spent most of his free time in his teens singing with various neighborhood groups, many of which were the first to be integrated. His stages were local street corners and churches. At 15 he formed The Valiants. This was the early ‘60’s, a hot time for music in East Chicago. Day’s group shared managers and rehearsal space with the legendary Dells and were often featured on shows with nearby rivals. The Jackson Five and the Valiants became the first vocal groups to sign on with the Gary, Indiana-based label Steeltown Records, hoping to challenge Motown’s domination of the airwaves.

According to Steeltown President and co-founder Gordon Keith, The Valiants recorded a single on the fledgling label credited to Day as writer and distributed on Chicago’s Destination and Steeltown records, produced by Steeltown’s co-founder, Mighty Mo Rodgers,” entitled “I Shed a Tear” and “So in Love”it  garnered regional acclaim in the mid-west. “The Jackson Five moved on to Motown Records and, as they say, the rest is history,” says Keith, who is now a counselor and minister in Gary. “Dennis decided to leave the area also to pursue his education. It was another big loss to us at Steeltown Records.”

Recalling those early years, being mentored by Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Dells, Day says, our two groups rehearsed Saturdays in our manger’s office at his Lumber Yard on 19th and Virginia street in Gary.“I learned a great deal from The Dells about harmony, vocal affect, and control. Marvin Jr., their lead, would tease me about “singing too pretty,” saying I needed ‘a little gravel in my growl.’ “That was never my style. He was only pointing out the range of emotions that all good singers use in delivering a song. I never forgot that.”

Day also counts among his early influences James Pookie Hudson and The Spaniels, local favorites who made the big time with one of the all-time classic hits, “Good Night, Sweetheart, It’s Time to Go.” Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Jon Hendricks, Johnny Mathis and Gospel greats the Roberta Martin Singers and Mel Torme helped to influence Day’s vocal style.

Inspired by the Civil Rights Movement and student activism for social justice, Dennis enrolled in Fisk University in Nashville, home of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, who introduced the world to American Black music in the form of Negro Spirituals. Day has always kept one foot in church music and the other in pop and jazz and while at Fisk, he continued the tradition, singing with the University Choir.

On a choir tour he performed a tenor duet under the baton of Eugene Ormandy, conductor of the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra. “Imagine me,” says Day, “a doo-wop street corner singer, fresh out of my steel worker’s sooty steel-toed metatarsal shoes and doing those one-nighters, school sock hops and ball rooms in Gary and Chicago, taking my cue from the Philadelphia Symphony’s celebrated maestro. It was incredible.”

In Nashville, Day formed a new group, Dino and the Dynamics (later named The Jades), for whom he was lead singer. They played to capacity audiences in clubs catering to his unique brand of “Chicago Smooth” and “Southern Soul” rock and roll. Day also became a regular demo artist for Columbia Screen Gems on famed Music Row. Music flowed then in Nashville with Little Richard, Jackie Wilson, and Jimi Hendrix as club regulars along the Jefferson street corridor.

At the end of his freshman year, Dennis won a talent show for which the prize was an extended engagement at Nashville’s Club Baron – a jewel of a music venue on the Chitlin’ Circuit located on the Jefferson street corridor the mid-south’s black entertainment strip. The Barron and El Tropicana’s weekend house band was hosted by such greats as Jimmy Hendricks and his longtime bassist Billy Cox pre-Gypsy Band, Sam and Dave, Otis Redding, James Brown, Little Richard, Booker T, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Gladys Knight and the Pips, B.B. King, Billy Paul, and Miles Davis. For his performances, Dennis enlisted a back-up group of three local performers to form Dino and the Dynamics. They played weekends at the Baron to packed houses for several months until Fisk’s President James Lawson persuaded Dennis to abandon his flirtation with the Music City’s allures and focus on his studies.

Although not singing regularly in Nashville clubs, Dennis continued to perform with the group, which had changed its name to The Jades and appeared at a variety of venues throughout the mid-South and in appearances at a number of the region’s colleges, and dances including Fisk and Tennessee A&I State University. The Jades were discovered by Nashville’s legendary record producer Ted Jarrett https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Jarrett who produced  their only nationally charted record, a ballad, “My Loss Your Gain,” on the Poncello Label, with Dennis as lead. The song debuted on the Cash Box Top R&B chart nationwide, was distributed by Decca Records, and is now available on an award-winning CD,in the Northern Soul genre as Music City Soul: From Nashville’s Black Cats – a best seller in the UK and Europe.

Dennis and his Fisk roommate, the late guitarist Frank “Silk” Smith,teamed-up and recorded demo sessions on Nashville’s Music Row for Columbia Screen Gems, Mercury and Capitol Records for Conway Twitty, Charlie Pride, Ricky Nelson, Joe Tex, and Ray Stevens, who wanted to hire Dennis and change his name to Travis Womack. Being under legal age, Dennis consulted his parents who staunchly refused to sign off on a name change and encouraged Dennis to complete his college education.

After graduating from Fisk with a degree in sociology, and completing a Masters degree at the University of Chicago he began a career that traversed the fields of criminal justice administration, education and human services,while continuing his pursuit of music as a life’s ambition and calling. Always pragmatic, heeding his father’s advice , “have something you can fall back on”. He taught Special Education in the New York City public middle schools for seven years teaching and counseling “at risk students” in Washington Heights and the bronx where he obtained New York State principal certification. I realized at some stage, I indeed may need a fall back”so I worked and prepared for  “what if possibilities” as I continued to gig  when and wherever I could?” Through out his music dual careers Day continued to perform in Chicago, Washington DC, and New York City, where he is currently resides with his wife. The father of two daughters from his first marriage, he established a music publishing company, Alylela Music ( Harry Fox Agency Affiliate), and record labels, D-Day Records and D-Day Media Records.

In reflecting on his move to Washington DC in 1980s a period that marked his full return to music. He muses over the deep reconnection he made with music after a few years a few years hiatus,returning for a period, full-time as an artist in venues of sold out enthusiastic performances with the D.C. based Blackbyrds, an award winning jazz/fusion group formed by Howard University’s resident jazz professor,and legendary jazz trumpeter, Dr. Donald Byrd. The group had six gold albums and a Grammy nomination for “Walkin’ in Rhythm” to its credit. It was during this period that Day had the distinction of singing an inspiring solo at the wake service held for the great  heavy weight champion, Joe Louis at Washington’s Nineteenth Street Baptist Church. After a string of featured appearances with The Blackbyrds, Day formed his own group and began playing Metro- DC’s club and festival circuit.

Since his New York debut in 1984 at the Presbyterian Jazz Society’s Second Sunday Jazz series, the singer has continued to pursue dual careers. Appointed by the Governor as New York State’s Chief Fair Housing Officer by day he helped establish fair housing,minority/ womens contracting and civil rights policy statewide. At night he performs with some of the best and has played or recorded with such luminaries Frank Foster, former leader of the Count Basie Orchestra, Clark Terry, Benny Powell, Dorothy Donegan, Ernie Hayes,Valery Ponomarev, Marion Cowings,Noel Pointer,Doc Cheatham, Dennis Irwin,Major Holly, Scott Hamilton,Buck Hill,Shirley Horne,Richard Wyands,John Miller,Jessie Davis,Leon Parker Jr.Billy Kaye,Paul Ramsey, Jackie Williams, Lionel Hampton, Melvin Sparks, Dr. Lonnie Smith,Eddie Chamblee, Art Porter Jr. Nick Collione,Walter Perkins Jr., Bross Townsend,Terry Morrisette, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Mercer Ellington to name a few and he has proudly shared the stage with Tony Bennett.

In New York Dennis spent a year as a member of the Lance Haywood Jazz Singers. He studied at the Manhattan School of Music, and in private lessons with Dr. Michael Warren, Melba Joyce, Andrew Frierson, Jackie Paris, Dr. Richard Harper, Bob Stoloff, Anne Marie Ross, Nancy Mareno, and Miles Griffith.always evolving  with his music and artistic pursuits he has since earned a second Master of Arts degree in Media Arts and documentary filmmaking from Long Island University. Since retirement  Day has pursued his musical aspirations and artistic projects full time.Forming his own company D-Day Media Group and making music, still with the very best. In 2007 Dennis was one of 12 finalists in New York’s annual Jazz Mobile Anheuser-Busch Best of the Best Jazz Vocal Competition. Currently, he is composing new songs working on a third album, studying piano, and performing in a variety of venues.

Usually Day fronts his own group consisting of piano, bass, percussion, and guitar and alto or tenor saxophone. His New York engagements have included The Blue Note, The West End Gate, The Village Vanguard (guest artist with pianist Dorothy Donegan, Minton’s Playhouse, the Lennox lounge), Vissiones,The West End Cafe,ST Nicholas Pub St. Peters’ Concert Series, Fat Cats, Sweet Basil’s,The Victoria Theater, Annual Harlem Week, Programs on the Plaza, One Penn Plaza Summer Concerts, Peter Pastor’s, The Karavan, Greenstreet’s, Al Defimio’s,Blues Alley, Woodrow Wilson Plaza Music Festival in Washington D.C., Constitution Hall,U.S.A for Fisk! The NAACP Capitol Region Telethon for UNCF.The Ebony Fashion Fair of Westchester County. PJS 2nd Sunday Jazz series The Portland Jazz Festival and The Vancouver Jazz Festival’s invitational jam session and a number of other venues including Cancun, Mexico and the Jazz Club in Havana, Cuba El Calle 28. One need only catch Day’s live performance to see that over night success sometimes can be a life time of dedication to what you joyously love to do.

In the 1990s, Dennis released his first album on D-Day Records, Dennis Day For Only You, which includes four of his original songs, “Sunday Morning Sunshine,” “Away with Me,” “No One-Night Stand,” and “I’ll Go It Alone.”

 

 

 

 

 

5_LenoxHerb Boyd, jazz critic for Downbeat Magazine and the New York Amsterdam News wrote in a 1996 article profiling the singer-songwriter, “Dennis Day is a versatile stylist who has an easy and distinctive style reminiscent of Brooke Benton, Marvin Gaye, or the Platters’ great lead singer, Tony Williams, depending on the mood or the music. Judging by his latest recording project, he has an obvious knack for composition, too.

 

Day’s original single Sunday Morning Sunshine features Art Porter, Jr. and TK Blue, in both instrumental and vocal versions.

 

 

 

 

Day’s second album, All Things in Time, peaked at #39 nationwide in College Music Journal’s annual Jazz charts. The album features his original song African Musing, and includes songs from the Great American Song Book with performances by Wycliff Gordon, Stephon Harris, Danny Mixon, and John Dimartino and John Miller. Dennis Day All Things in Time was presented the Grindie Award for Best in Jazz genre 2009 by RadioIndy the Internet Radio music aggregator.

In 2017, Day released a single – his rendition of Billy Vera’s Wastin’ My Time.

Coming in 2018, a new single, Waters of March, and a new album, Dennis Llewellyn Day, Bossa, Blues, and Ballads.

Day remains optimistic about his music. “I still enjoy what I do and as long as others do as well, I’ll continue the musical journey begun a lifetime ago.”

Dennis Llewellyn Day &Camille Thurman “Waters of March (single) from new CD Dennis Llewellyn Day Bossa, Blues &Ballads , Spring 2018 TBA

Link Below: “Waters of March  Spring 2018 D-Day Media Records

https://chirb.it/qhDekp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tribute to Louis Williams: Champion Athlete and Community Leader

Louis WilliamsA Tribute to Louis Williams: Champion Athlete and Community Leader                                                                                 by

Dennis Day President, D-Day Media Group, NY. NY.

 

It is with great sadness I share news of the passing of LOUIS WILLIAMS at the age of 82. As many elder residents of “The Region” may recall, Louis Williams was a towering and historic figure in the fields of sports, recreation and community improvement and development. A gifted athlete and coach, Louis was among the first significant wave of African American student athletes to participate and excel in inter-scholastic sports at East Chicago Roosevelt during the mid 1950s. Later as a collegian at the University of Michigan he held the broad jump record for the Big 10 Conference; a record later broken by U.S. Olympian legend Ralph Boston.

Louis Williams was a world-class athlete and a much sought-after executive leader and advisor within the fields of community development and recreation. He served as a mentor and coach to nearly two generations of youth – boys and girls and young men and women from throughout East Chicago.

Louis “Bodly” Williams was a proud native son of the City’s New Addition community where he honed his outstanding athletic skills on its courts, playgrounds, and fields under the tutelage of his early coach and mentor Monroe Walton. Mr. Walton was an Olympic aspirant who was narrowly defeated by Ralph Metcalf, teammate of Jessie Owens on the U.S. Olympic track and field team, and who later became South Chicago’s Congressman.

Louis Williams used his considerable skill sets, dedication, and commitment to impart the values of pursing a healthy lifestyle through community activities, encouraging sports along with individual and family recreation activities. His athletic prowess and skill for organizational management were developed over years – first competing as a youth attending Columbus elementary school, then through University, and later through competing on special service teams while serving honorably in the U.S. Army.

As an athlete Louis Williams is not a household name like Jordan, Lebron, or Ali but he was a true athlete by skill, temperament, and a proven champion. More importantly he was a person who chose to give back to his community over a lifetime of service to youth and families seeking to find the right path and sound values needed to sustain success in life. Louis lived what he taught and led by example. He was a soft-spoken, strong role model who mirrored character development by his own life and encouraged our youth to acquire solid life skills and important values that, when used with discipline while also having fun, could help lay the foundation for a lifetime of success in broader pursuits. Through his commitment to the positive impact of sports and recreation, Louis helped build strong East Chicago communities.

Louis Williams _Jessie Owens

Louis Williams left, once held the Big 10 Conference Track & Field record for the long  jump pictured with United States four- time gold medalist of the 1936 Olympic games Jessie Owens.Williams died January 17, 2018 at age 82.

Louis, “Bodly” Williams will be sorely missed by loving family, by many friends, and by members and friends of the Twin Cities engaged within the community development and recreation services movement in East Chicago and throughout the Calumet Region and our nation.

R.I.P. (D. Day Media) Jan.18, 2018

 

 

 

East Chicago Ancestral Ties a Link between Two Global Icons of Pop Music

Growing up In my rust belt, blue collar neighborhood,as Al Jarreau sang, “We Got By!”We also took the idea of permanence and job security for granted. Being in the shadows and gravity of Chicago, we seldom looked at the greatness that surrounded us in everyday people with extraordinary talent and determination. Many people are un-aware that two of the greatest artists in American popular culture and history claim their ancestral roots in East Chicago, Indiana.Both Michael Jackson’s and Stevie Wonder’s grandparents lived only six blocks apart.And I lived a few blocks between both their grandparents.Small wonder, Stevie, Michael and their clans were like family; brothers and sisters with each other. They shared a common root and bond with their ancestor’s homes.Now that the once bustling steel city by the lake no longer has gigantic steel mills with fiery open hearths and blast furnaces lighting the skies,like most rust belt cities big industry is no longer and today full- time, solid employment is a scarcity.But at least the”good folk” of East Chicago for generations will always have bragging rights.Their neighbors, the Jacksons and Morris families helped nurture the “best of the best”.And Stevie’s and the Jackson family will always have deep kinship roots in the little steel town on Lake Michigan’s southern shore. D.Day Media 2017Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson both have Grandparents  they visted often who lived in East Chicago, Indiana six blocks apart.

Main&Broadway EC Harbor

Main and Broadway Indiana Harbor

Morris liquorstore and House EC

Morris Liquor Store owned by Bob and Ilona Morris, Stevie’s grandparents, lived next door,The Village of New Addition

Parade EC Mexican Independence

Mexican Independence Day Parade in a once bustling town where Big Steel and Oil refineries assured jobs for American migrants from the southwest and Mexico, Eastern European immigrants, and the great African America migrant wave during the 19th though 20th century.

 

Memories of My Segregated American Swimming Pool

More than a decade ago I decided to interview an aging former neighbor. A lovely woman of great dignity. Maturing ever so gracefully, she personifies wisdom and experience. My hope was that our conversation would yield a unique story and perspective about lifes’ joys and the challenges of raising and educating five children, while managing to earn a degree as a Registered nurse.No small fete as a single mom coping in an urban industrial rust belt community settled by a mixture of northern born blacks and stream of black migrants arriving from the south after WW II,Eastern European immigrants and Hispanic families, seeking work in the steel mills and foundries darting the industrial landscape of East Chicago, Indiana a short commute from Chicago’s bustling South side.

We sat on her lawn near the familiar sprawling empty lot that for fifty years had been the site of the George Washington Carver Swimming pool, a public facility constructed for the recreational use of the City’s sizable black and Latino population. The City of East Chicago possessed an excellent parks and recreation system with well equipped swimming pools, and access to specific reaches of Lake Michigan’s beach shorelines. However there was an unwritten rule for years among black and white citizens that “Carver Pool” was the exclusive preserve of blacks, thus for years a pattern of segregated swimming pools existed as a reminder of the northern racial divide and remained status quo in an arrangement of separate but dubiously equal swimming pools.
What stands out to me from my late summer conversation was the pride my dear neighbor exuded, when she recalled being present at the Ribbon cutting ceremony, dedicating Carver Swimming pool in honor of the great African American Scientist,Dr. George Washington Carver as he spoke softly but proudly of the racial progress made on that glorious day when little black boys and girls would learn how to swim.And swim, we did!

George Washignton Carver (1864-1943)
Born into slavery at birth and stolen and sold elsewhere, George Washington Carver would have never been able to guess how far his love of plants would take him. It was namely his work in crop rotation techniques and in agriculture of the south with peanuts and cotton that he won recognition. It was his invention of different consumer uses of these products that helped boost the economy of the entire country. Taken back to his original birthplace and following the abolition of slavery, he was raised by the family that had enslaved him. They knew he was bright for his age and encouraged him in his educational pursuits. He would go to Kansas for High School as schools farther south were not open to African American attendance yet. When George applied to different colleges, he was rejected once they learned his was black. His name did not reveal his color. Finding disappointment in this, he moved even farther north into Iowa, where he would eventually attend Iowa State University as the first black student. It was during this period that he adopted the name George ‘ Washington’ Carver since there was another George Carver in his classes. Later on in his career, he would become the sole African American faculty member. He even remained there and received a Master’s Degree, where he gained international recognition as a budding botanist. Upon graduation, he was recruited and paid a substantial salary to teach at Tuskegee University. Initially, he was hired by Booker T. Washington, who promoted industry and labor as a way for his fellow African American brethren to rise in society. At Tuskegee, George Washington Carver would stay, completing research and teaching for nearly fifty years. Through his research, he found a variety of uses for the peanut plant. He worked on better concoctions for glue, ink, makeup, oils, soaps, salts, and recipes for the home. It is even claimed that he invented peanut butter. Over the remaining years in his career and life, George Washington Carver did not publish his autobiography, but a lot has been written about his life. He gave advice to numerous presidents, and was aided in his hopes that soy could be used for fuel by Henry Ford. He has had museums, schools, libraries, scholarships, and other awards named in his honor.

George washington Carver

Dr. George Washington Carver for whom Carver Swimming Pool was named was present as honored guest of the grand opening of one of the nation’s few black public supported swimming pools. Carver pool was located in the New Addition section of East Chicago, Indiana a predominately African American neighborhood. Dr. Carver noted : “It was a great day for Negro boys and girls to able to learn to swim.” (Source: Interview 2002 with Mrs. Rosemary Moore, RRN

Swimming pool Carver

Wide shot George Washington Carver Pool inside green exterior foundation annexed to Bath and Shower House for boys and girls

Carver Pool &Bath House NA remodeled

GWC Swimming Pool and bath House was remodeled in the 80s, pictured are government, religious and community leaders.

Carver pool reopens ben Guesyer_ribbon cut

Rededication ceremony of the GWC SwimmingPool and Bath House at Ribbon Cutting, Dr.George Washington Carver actually was honoree at the first ribbon cutting event of the facility which primarily served black and Puerto Rican and Mexican youth throughout the Calumet Region for several decades.

Inter-racial Marriage, Dating and Love: A Conversation with a Few Friends

Inter-racial dating and Marriage

11/24/13

This Facebook conversation thread developed from a post on Facebook started by E.J. Strickland a musician. I responded to E.J’s observations and the ensuing thread of friends mushroomed  into open thoughtful discourse on the subject of race, and inter-racial dating and marriage in America. The contributors range from a retired Indiana attorney, Richard Miller, a retired Indiana State Government Health Executive, James “Jim” Ladd, E.J. Strickland a noted jazz musician,and Bruce Thomas actor, singer and former body guard for the late Muhammad Ali. After revisiting the lively informative post on my fifteenth wedding anniversary recently in 2017. I decided to post it on my blog here at ddaymedia.wordpress. To me it reflects the positive aspects of social media at it’s best when sensitive and controversial topics are openly and intelligently discussed  with the intention of  fomenting better understanding of  the problems and obstacles we face as a nation seeking to fulfill its highest democratic ideals of freedom justice and equality for all its citizens.

Some Thoughts on Love, Race and Marriage in America 

E.J. Strickland a young musician friend,and rising star on the international jazz scene penned this very thoughtful status on Face Book today. I found it timely, since I reflected over having lived 18 years in America as part of an inter-racial relationship.D.Day 2013

E.J. on interracial relationships: “Anyone out there who thinks they’re going to stop people from all over this world from mixing racially.. GIVE IT UP!! It’s USELESS!! Interracial relationships have existed since the beginning of TIME!! Most of us are all mixed up anyhow.. even if we are unaware of it. Who people choose to love is THEIR business, and THEIR business only!! TRUE LOVE knows no color, and is a matching of SOULS.. Not SKINTONE.. My boo is White/Native American.. She is beautiful both inside and out!! And, I love her with every inch of my body AND soul!! Together we encounter some haters.. as well as those who see the light. For those who can’t accept.. Just remember.. LOVE WINS!! ALWAYS!! (ah-ite, I’m done.. LOL)”

Dennis Day: Thoughts on Love, Race and Marriage in America

“Hey E.J. I thank you for this post. Over this weekend my wife and I celebrated our 11th Anniversary.We have been in an inter-racial relationship for 18years.I’ve discovered that it’s a hang up on both sides, black as well as white. But at least many of my friends in the jazz and the arts community could care less, but some of them even have issues. It’s a form of self-imposed enslavement to close oneself off from having other friends, mates and relationships from among different races and cultures. Natural selection will always prevail over any man’s political laws or false racist sexual taboos. Both racial supremacists and racial purists of all persuasions have it wrong.Race is a “social construct” not a biological one, DNA confirms that fact.Unfortunately, in America much moreso than most places, we’re still”hung-up” in it’s irrational strangle-hold. Even many of my white friends and associates have huge limitations fully embracing the notion of mixed marriages, it’s subtle but it’s real and sad. I noted that only 1 or 2 were able to acknowledge my wedding anniversary over the weekend. I think it’s perhaps more comfortable ignoring a not so in-consequential fact of life concerning the race of my spouse.Life is too short to play other folks’ political head games. Live and love, and let live and treat people fairly is all one can do. Love wins every time over hate. Thanks for your honesty, it’s the only way we’ll ever get to the next level as human beings. I hope we get to play together again soon”.D.Day 2013

Bruce Thomas Hopefully it’s getting better. I also happen to be in an interracial relationship of 5 years. I say ‘happen to be in’ because my lady is beautiful both inside and out and I would have fallen in love with her regardless of her complexion. I thank God that we have never had any real negative experience or rudeness from the outside world. I’ve taken her to all black parties and events where she was the only white and she’s has always been treated with respect. I’ve also been the only black at all white activities, including a redneck tavern at the Conowingo Dam just last week and anyone was respectful (to my relief, lol). I think people are getting it. I also feel a lot of it is how we carry ourselves. Lori and I are openly affectionate and people can see that we are in love. How can you hate that? I have seen other interracial couples who looked uncomfortable or seemed to be seeking approval from the outside world. It’s just my opinion but I think when you are seeking approval that’s when you invite what people think. Frankly I don’t give a shit what people think but I am always courteous, respectful, and down to earth. Dennis you are on point AGAIN! We have got to meet someday!

November 25, 2013 at 12:23am ·

Jim Ladd- Funny, I don’t even think about it anymore, love is love. Race isn’t the building block that determines a good marriage.

 

Rich Miller- I know my friends above, Dennis and Jim, remember my college Anthropology professor’s sage accounting of the human experience: “Throughout history, when two groups met, they may have fought, but they always mated.”

November 25, 2013 at 8:23am ·

Phyllis Esposito D Happy Anniversary Dennis Day! May God Bless You and Your Wife with many more years of good health, peace, love and prosperity… Thank you for sharing this insightful on point post xox

November 25, 2013 at 10:11pm ·

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Dennis Day Rich Miller, My friend. We can agree with your professor on a much larger global level. The problems however, surface in the day-to-day inter-personal, group and at the human level.Under your prof’s theory, the adage,”To the victors go the spoils” historically has meant the vanquished and conquered races and nations are inevitably amalgamated or absorbed within the larger communal social order.American racism is different. It’s the legacy of American chattel slavery that has impeded this natural amalgam from becoming the new normal. It’s getting there slowly,but until each individual deals with his or her own blind spots regarding race and the stigma of inter-racial liaisons embedded for centuries as taboo in this country, we as a nation will continue to view such relationships as on the margins and atypical. D.Day 2013

November 26, 2013 at 10:52am · Edited ·

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Rich Miller- Thanks Dennis: If my post was read or interpreted to suggest anything more than yours or E J’s, such was not intended. My apologies.

November 26, 2013 at 10:56am ·

Dennis Day Not at all. Your post in my view was right on point. I merely felt the need to expand upon the more parochial aspects of this issue because of my own experience and experiences of those with whom I’m familiar.My point is, it all boils down to individuals and communities as to whether we get beyond what my friend EJ and I are addressing on these pages. I felt I needed to say for some time. Now it’s off my chest.

November 26, 2013 at 11:21am ·

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Rich Miller- Love ya

November 26, 2013 at 11:32am ·

Dennis Day Ditto “dat” bro LOL!

November 26, 2013 at 11:35am ·

Dennis Day It’s precisely streams of this sort that reveal FB at it’s best; a platform for open honest dialogue, in which our possibilities of deepening understanding of one another become real.

November 26, 2013 at 11:44am ·

Bruce Thomas I hope I’m not over talking this Dennis but your recent statement provokes thought and brings back memories. You are right on point when you say individual experiences are related to the communities where they occur. I’ve lived in the NYC area and the Baltimore/WDC communities. In the 90’s, I perceived interracial relationships in the NYC area as much more rare compared to what I saw in the WDC area. Also public reaction was more dramatic in the NYC area from what friends would tell me and from my own experiences. Back then, I was married to a Filipino. We’d get stares with a few people literally stopping in their tracks with opened mouth just seeing us walk down Broadway in midtown. My ex would also get hostile stares from sisters when we were in restaurants to the point of being so ridiculous we’d have to laugh. 20 years later, interracial relationships are common place here (WDC/Baltimore). Because I do see more interracial couples in NYC, I thought the public had grown with the times. Surprisingly, I think NYC’s southern neighbors are more open-minded of interracial relationships because as I stated, we haven’t had to deal with any foolishness. I’m sorry if you and your wife have had to… Y’all c’mon down! lol.

November 26, 2013 at 7:38pm ·

Dennis Day @ Bruce Thomas:Thanks a lot for your insightful stories. I somewhat disagree. By and large,NYC remains among this nation’s most tolerant with regard to inter-racial marriages. At least that’s been my experience. It has been so historically. Even at the time of the Draft Riots in NYC in 1841 there were inter-racial marriages across race and gender. Although the Draft Riots displaced black families who were forced to flee into other areas of the City.Race in general became a powder keg issue after that and even regressive laws and civil service practices were enacted to repress blacks in sectors of the City’s economy. Namely in Civil Service jobs, police and fire departments, a situation which lingers to this very day. Racial antipathy below the Mason-Dixon line ,in states like Virginia and Maryland are joined by a complex history of slavery and freedmen, a term used for “free men of color”. Demographically, a large population of free blacks ,either born free or manumitted by their slave holders have long held free license to marry across racial lines, maybe this in part accounts for the more liberal attitudes you perceive .The 1967 Supreme court landmark case,Loving vs Virginia challenged and prevailed against Virginia’s State laws to prevent such miscegenation. Inter-racial marriage had existed defacto for centuries since slavery and has been fairly commonplace in Virginia even prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling which up-held constitutional legitimacy of inter-racial marriages Dejure in all the States. However, the fact remains that Virginia between 1882-1968 recorded 83 black lynchings, Maryland in the same period, 27 blacks reported as lynched, DC, records 1 black and New York State 1 black lynched. These statistics do not undergird arguments either supporting or debunking the notion of specific states’ level of tolerance for inter-racial liaisons, they do suggest historical context that may influence larger community attitudes. As for your personal reference,I have written not from a perspective of personal crisis, attitudes have indeed changed nationwide, but we’ve yet a ways to go. I had hoped to shed light on some of the lasting impediments and diehard resistance to social change, that many individuals and communities continue to struggle with.There is in my view, no greater place than New York City in the world,in which to live! Thanks for the kind gesture to move south, it’s beautiful there,a nice place to visit and the offer is reciprocal. But we’ll take a pass! LOL D.Day 2013

Bruce Thomas Lol. I had a feeling that you would say that because there is indeed no place like New York! If it were not for raising my daughter I’d still live there. I love the city and I love the people that live there BUT my personal experience of living there, working there, and having an interracial marriage there was different from the history you very eloquently state above – which is, by the way, the same history I grew up believing and experienced living in a very racist Maryland and Virginia. But in the past 20 – 25 years, that history has changed (in my perception) because in New York, to my surprise, I encountered racism that I had not experienced since the 1960’s – not only with my interracial marriage but also where I lived, worked, and even the ‘Archie Bunkers’ I’d encounter on the bus who were so racially ignorant they didn’t know how ignorant they were. You couldn’t even get mad with them because you knew they were sincerely ignorant. I knew other interracial couples there also who received threats of bodily harm from just being together. So while I have no disputes with civil and legal history of interracial relationships that I’m impressed you wrote above, my personal experience in both communities is why I feel as I do and previously stated. I must say I appreciate this dialog of sharing that hopefully everyone can gain insight from. Thanks for the opportunity Brother!

November 27, 2013 at 3:09pm ·

Dennis Day Greater enlightenment, we all can use it! Thanks!

November 27, 2013 at 3:21pm ·

Dennis Day Bruce, Northern Va. in significant ways is one of the most divrse areas in the nation, 2008 and ’12national elections and 2010 census data bear that out. So to your point, today’s Northern Va. is probably much more tolerant, diverse and far less racist than a generation ago. Maybe even more so than NYC.

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W.E.B. Dubois at Fisk: A Discovery of The Beauty and Soul of Black Folks

For years my late father maintained a scrapbook he compiled from African American publications like Ebony,and The Chicago Defender. It was from his well kept book of black memorabilia that as an adolescent I learned about Dr. W.E.B. Dubois and Fisk University, the illustrious scholar’s beloved alma mater. A first rate scholar and among Harvard’s most esteemed Ph.d. graduates, among his classic, landmark books is The “Souls Of Black Folks” a masterful treatise on black leadership potential, intellectual contributions and cultural development.The book became a blue print for the concept of Negritude and expression of unassailed, unique contributions of the black arts movement and culture to the world entering the era of Harlem’s great Renaissance. From the fierce self-determination and talent of Fisk Jubilee Singers formed in 1866 whom he adored as well as the outstanding cultural contributions emerging from similar historically black colleges and arts groups to the era of Harlem’s fabled Renaissance unprecedented cultural production . In his classic book, “The Soul of Black Folks published in 1903 Dubois wrote:”

“Little of beauty has America given the world save the rude grandeur God himself stamped on her bosom; the human spirit in this new world has expressed itself in vigor and ingenuity rather than in beauty. And so by fateful chance the Negro folk-song — the rhythmic cry of the slave — stands to-day not simply as the sole American music, but as the most beautiful expression of human experience born this side the seas. It has been neglected, it has been, and is, half despised, and above all it has been persistently mistaken and misunderstood; but notwithstanding, it still remains as the singular spiritual heritage of the nation and the greatest gift of the Negro people.”Chapter XIV The Sorrow Songs”Souls of Black Folks(1903)

Dubois was enamored with the beauty and power of Negro spirituals and work songs introduced to the world by his classmates The Fisk Jubilee Singers whose enormous contributions introduced black music to European audiences that radically changed perceptions of a nation first coming to realize the impact of black culture and black folk as purveyors of serious world art. Hence, Dubois was inspired to pen his classic book,”The Soul’s of Black Folks”, and it became the clarion voice of black intellectual and artistic aspiration of the 20th century.It was by reading and leafing through my father’s well kept compendia of articles and photographs as well as an old Smithsonian Folkways recording of the renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers I became inspired to matriculate at his beloved alma mater, Fisk University.Dubois throughout his career as an international scholar and public intellectual unfailingly attributes his deep appreciation of black culture and discovery of Fisks’ environment for intellectual and cultural development to his years as a student at Fisk University in Nashville. This historical fact is often marginalized but must not be forgotten.D.Day 2016