Saturday, September 30, 2017

Sarah Lou Harris Carter - Once the first African-American model featured in a national campaign for "Lucky Strike" cigarettes, she added the title "Lady" to her resume

Sarah Lou Harris born in Wilkesboro, North Carolina  (July 4th, 1923) went to the HBCU Bennett College, graduated and moved to New York City to teach. Once there, in addition to teaching, she took more courses and acquired a master's degree. Curious about other avenues of improvement, she became a radio host and a dancer. These fields led to signing to with the Branford Modelling Agency, an agency created for Black models only. She and her colleagues broke barriers and changed minds about the concept that models could only be blonde and White.

Modelling took her around the globe. On one of her assignments she met John Carter. No. Not that John Carter. This John Carter was a Guyanese attorney. A prominent barrister who in 1944 had successfully gotten the death penalty, which had been handed down from the US military court for a a rape charge to an African-American soldier, commuted. Kismet struck when the couple met. Smitten, they wed. Years later, Queen Elizabeth II knighted Carter et voila! Sarah became Lady Sarah Lou Harris Carter, wife to a lawyer who happened to be an ambassador and a politician

Not too shabby for a girl from Wilkesboro, NC.

Lady Carter continued to model, When she quit the bright lights, she opened her own charm school in Guyana.

Predeceased in death by her husband, Lady Carter died on December 16, 2016 at the age of 93.

Sarah in her heyday

Sir John Carter

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Octavius V. Catto - Homeboy finally acknowledged!

Octavius V. Catto. Orator. Educator. Intellectual. Military man. Cricket player. Activist. Martyr.

A Philadelphian by way of Charleston, South Carolina. Born free to freewoman Sara Isabella Cain on February 22, 1839 and itto the prominent mixed-race DeReef family, a family that had been free for decades. His father, William T. Catto,  had been a slave millwright and had gained his freedom. Once free, his father, now a Presbyterian minister, took the family North. First to Baltimore, then to Philly. He dedicated his life to educating black folk and rallying them to vote. A big fat no-no in Philly of that day. Actually, it's still an uncomfortable affair to be a black voter in Philly. Oh, the stories I could tell. Anyhoo, Catto lost his life organizing black people to get out the vote in 1871 on October 10th. A nasty business involving police and the immigrant Irish community who were mainly part of the Democratic machine and who fought constantly with Blacks who were Republicans. No, not THOSE kind of Republicans. This was the time just before the parties switched ideologies literally. Before that, Blacks had been Republicans and most Whites had been Democrats. The kind of Democrats who espoused the platform that present-day Republican do now. Get it? It's a long, sad story. Basically, a flip flop in thinking happened and we have what we have today. Wanna read more about the big upheaval in the parties? Google it. Catto had a vast and varied background too extensive to relate here. See the provided links below.

Again, tensions in the city were high as immigrants (mainly Irish) had been up in arms concerning their having being drawn into the Civil War. Many were still fuming over their conscription into a matter they felt had nothing to do with them. They'd come to a land for freedom, not to fight for somebody else's. Somebody they felt below them. They saw Blacks as a problem and did not want them organized in any manner, or gaining any power. Who know were that could lead? LOL.LOL. Possibly, solidarity, idiots.

My take? I felt they should have taken it up with the federal government. Not take it out on their Black neighbors. But that's par for the course. People always bitch about what favor their neighbor APPEARS to be getting when in actuality, while they fret, the gov't is taking them ALL for what they are worth and using them. It's laughable really. They thought themselves better than blacks when, if I recall, their names were right up there with Blacks and Jews on those signs proclaiming, "Stay Out. Not Welcome!" But back to Mister Catto.

He'd been rousing Blacks to vote on October 10, 1871. Election Day. A recognizable figure, he'd bought a gun for protection as he was always being accosted when out. While on his way to vote, he was confronted by one Frank Smith, an Irish immigrant. Catto was shot 3 times, dying of his wounds. An inquest could not determine if Catto had pulled his weapon though several depictions of the encounter depict it. In the end, Smith was not charged.

I chose him as a blog topic because growing up in South Philly this man's presence was palpable. As a child, I attended many an event at the O. V. Catto Hall in my neighborhood. Churches, families, and organizations held dances, meetings and socials there. The local fire department hosted Christmas parties there, giving out presents and money to us kids.  The hall was the place to hold all the events crucial to my neighborhood. I have fond memories of fun times at that space.

South Philly is not the same anymore. Gentrification has altered life there greatly. The wheels of time and folk with the money to buy up properties for next to nothing does that every time. I'm sure the hall is no longer there. And if it is, it's probably a coffee shop serving $10 avocado-toast-and-coffee combos to hipsters. The history is lost ut lives in the minds of the O. G.s. That is why I so happy that Philly is honoring the man that the hall was named for. Philadelphians, new and old, need to know of this man.

And it's happening on September 26th, 2017 A statue will be dedicated and erected outside City Hall. Protests will occur I am certain because a lot of people feel some kind of way about the removal of former mayor Frank Rizzo's statue from a public space. Oh, it's gonna get salty. But that is business as usual for Philly. I commend present mayor, Jim Kenney, for proceeding with the project. It was a brave move for a White guy of Irish decent to make  because...It's Philly. The installation will be covered by WURD Radio. Okay, Philly, are you ready for your close-up? Philadelphia. My wacky, nutty, racist hometown. You make me smile sometimes.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Harlem Cultural Festival in the summer of 1969 is often called the Black Woodstock.

The Harlem Cultural Festival was an event that comprised SIX FREE concerts filled to the brim with talent. The bill over the span of the shows featured Stevie Wonder, B. B. King, Sly and the Family Stone, Nina Simone, The Staple Singers, etc. The list went on and on. as you can see from the poster below. Sly and the Family Stone played BOTH venues that summer.

Listen to a 2009 NPR recollection at their website, or at  to get a feel of the event:

This is history. A videographer named Hal Tulchin, filmed and recorded the happening for posterity. I like the word happening. So '60s. Happening. All I can see are fringed vests, bell bottoms, bandanas and beads for days. Anyhoo, it seems posterity wasn't interested in the footage the man shot from the festival. That is until said languishing footage was uncovered. Et Voila! A documentary is in the making. At least 50 hours of performances were captured. 90-year-old Hal Tulchin passed but lived long enough to know that his work would be seen.

Well done, Mister Tulchin.

info courtesy and

Monday, September 18, 2017

Jimi Hendrix - Hail a guitar master!

A black and white photograph of a man playing an electric guitar.

Jimi Hendrix - Born 11/27/42 - Deceased 9/18/70

I've blogged about my love for '70s funk bands and their bass guitarists for a few years. The other type of guitarist I like are terrific rock guitarists.

Eric Clapton. Jimmy Page. Jeff Beck. Carlos Santana. Joe Perry. Duane Allman. Ernie Isley. Yes, Prince. Oh, the list goes on and on. I know I've left out a ton. But the one I listen to, to this day is Jimi Hendrix.

My youngest uncle who lived in the family home while going to college, introduced me to the music of this master. I recall being 8 years old, sitting on uncle's bedroom floor and listening to the needle drop on vinyl and commence to play Purple Haze, The Wind Cries Mary and Foxy Lady.  And my personal favorite: All Along the Watchtower. I was transfixed. My initiation into "The Experience" had begun. Uncle graduated and eventually moved away but Jimi's talent lingered.

Hendrix's style was unique to say the least. I like that reverberating sound he got from playing directly in front of the speakers. His breakout, breakthrough came at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. He and his group were the talk of the event. At Woodstock, he stole the show with his rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Dying young like Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison was part of his continued mystique.

Hendrix was celebrated in a rather overlooked film in 2013: Jimi: All Is By My Side. It didn't do well due to not being able to acquire the rights to his music. Bummer because singer Andre 3000 of Outkast was STUPENDOUS as Jimi. Andre caught the essence of the guitarist. It's a shame the film bombed. It would have released Andre into acting more and boosted Hendrix even more. But thems the breaks.

Today is the anniversary of Jimi's death. This day in 1970, he passed. Go listen to some of his music to honor a riveting talent. .

 All Along the Watchtower:

A color image of three men standing together wearing psychedelic clothing.

Jimi All Is by My Side poster.jpg

info courtesy of blackamericaweb

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Beauty is in session and the industry just got taken to school - Fenty Beauty

Fenty Beauty. Fenty Beauty. Fenty Beauty.

Rihanna. Rihanna. Rihanna. Not just another pretty face.

I can take, or leave her music but I will definitely take her makeup. Definitely. RiRi's launch into the beauty biz showed wannabes like the Kardashians how it should be done. Kim, having 4 contouring kits is nothing. Kylie, Kendall or whatever K you are in the family, your announcement of the addition of something called "Brown Sugar" (conspicuously after the Fenty Beauty launch) to your makeup line was feeble at best. Anemic at worst. It's a tacky, lame attempt to appear "inclusive" in the beauty game. A game who you, and all large, mainstream cosmetic companies, LOST on September 8th, 2017 when Fenty Beauty debuted.

That large section of makeup wearers with very dark skin, or very pale skin. The ones with all that MONEY to spend but had nearly nowhere to spend it, found a place that Friday night. Through your big-company-willful-ignorance, through your business model that touts "medium" as the only shade that matters, you lost out. Oh, yeah, you might have gotten off your lazy duff to make two crappy foundation shades for ALL black or brown women, without acknowledgement of their differing undertones and the fact that we all come in varied shades! Those two shades were supposed to be enough for over half the world. How big of you. And just as bad is your poor representation of deadly pale skin with one shade of "fair" no matter the wearer's undertone.

I will admit a few major brands - MAC, NARS, Lancome, even Clinique - tried. But it wasn't because they cared. It was for the money. They understood business. Not to say that there are no Black-owned beauty companies, or companies that do not have cosmetics for Black skin. There were/are several small Black-owned beauty brands. I left a list below. But we all know how they get treated. Scant shelf space in stores. Low visibility even if they get space in a store. Just to get the endeavor off the ground is a miracle. "White beauty companies get funded on POTENTIAL; Black beauty companies get funded on PROOF!" A quote from Youtube beauty blogger Jackie Aina. Meaning: A White idea gets the moolah without question. A Black idea gets scrutinized out the wazoo, schematics are needed and SALES! Where dey do dat at? How the Hell are you gonna have a sales track record PRIOR to the effin thing being produced?

No thing. Fenty Beauty is here to take all you big boys to school and to tell you that it has it covered. This is not a flash-in-the-pan effort. This is a major effort to rival the biggies in the field. I believe Fenty Beauty is here to stay a while.

40 shades of gloriously different foundation. FORTY! Not 50 permutations of medium beige.

At least 7 of which serve the darkest skin with all its possible undertones. And don't fret pale girls. On the other end of the spectrum, there are at least 5 shades of  Wednesday Addams' complexion and the undertones to go around. And if you are anywhere in-between, you've got it made and will get giddy from the selection.

So while all you big beauty giants scratch your asses and wonder how you missed that YUGE boat and how RiRi didn't, do let me hear the clack of those stilettoes running to whip up the products you SHOULD have been making for years. I know you are in a rush but take your time to make a quality product, okay? Otherwise, you'll have to revisit square one and will have missed the boat TWICE.

Ah! I do love the smell of regret and checked bigotry in the morning!

My personal favs are: the primer, the foundation and the blotter for shine.

PS Here are some small Black-owned beauty brands that have been in the trenches for a bit:

Monday, September 11, 2017

Happy Birthday, Miss Lola Falana!

Born this day in 1942. Lola Falana. An Afro-Cuban Philly, PA girl by way of Camden, NJ. A woman of many firsts. A fixture on every late '60s through early '70s variety show. The one known for her perky "backside" before all the other Janies-Come-Lately. A recording star. A TV star. A dancer. A Las Vegas star before the concept of "residency" was even dreamed up. Vixen before the video age. Often casts as the temptress in films. Face of a major cosmetics campaign (Tigress perfume). Once wife to Feliciano Tavares of the '70s group, Tavares. The total package. Survivor of multiple sclerosis. Human. Lola Falana.

Happy Birthday, Lola! MUAH!

ps Rihanna vibe in the second pic? Or Rihanna is a tad Falana-ish these days? You know what I mean.

Serendipity and Sloane Stephens, champ!


I'd say hold that place for Serena until she gets back but...You are your own force!

I must admit. If it were not for Venus, Serena, you, Madison Keys, women's tennis would be BORING! Boring I tell you. The sport is ALIVE because of BLACK women! Big statement, you say? Well, it's true.

I did yell out loud when Sharapova struck out. Sorry. But not really. I still boil at the thought that she makes the most in endorsements when it comes to women in tennis, but is still considered a TENNIS star. She's not that good. But, that's the way of this world when one is born with that aspect. Girlfriend will be just fine, though. Maybe Enrique will marry her. They still together?

Anyhoo, Sloane, hunty, enjoy that trophy and that check. I saw your eyes. Never seen that many zeroes, right? Kick back, do the vacay thing and hug yourself. Then prepare for that Clash of the Titans should you face Venus again and definitely when Serena returns. With those genes and that talent dashing around, that court is gonna be on fiyah!

Sloane's late father, NFL Running back, John Stephens wgho played for the New England Patriots

Sloane with her equally gorgeous mom, Sybil Smith, a top athlete in her own right. Was named the best swimmer that Boston University ever had!
Sybil Smith

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Ark of Return - A tribute, erected on the grounds of the U. N, in memory of the lives changed and lost during the Middle Passage into slavery

I am ashamed that I'd never heard of this. But it's sort of par for the course here in the States. Any apology or the mere acknowledgement of an apology to for Black misery and/or sacrifice is glossed over, or reported on the news in a 10-second snippet, or ignored greatly lest certain demographics take offense.

Well, I'm here to say: Be offended.

In 2015, a monument that had been commissioned to commemorate the end of the slave trade, was unveiled at the United Nations in New York City. The marker was created by Rodney Leon, a sculptor of Haitian descent. Side note: This talented man also created the African Burial Ground National Monument which resides in Manhattan.

The Ark of the the Return, as explained by the artist, is quite involved. Read his interview here.

I read a couple articles about the piece since I discovered it and all I can say is, I was moved to tears.
It's a piece that was looooong overdue. I suggest that for every Confederate hero statue being de-throned, a replica of this evocative sculpture be set in place.

That certain demographic I spoke of would survive. My people did.

2 Youtube videos on the making of the piece

Sunday, September 3, 2017

POWER - the Starz Network show's 4th season finale was all that!

POWER. My guilty pleasure. It's not a politically correct show. Not by a long shot. But I don't need it to be. Maybe that's why I love it.

I thought the week before last's episode of POWER (Sundays, Starz 9pm ET) was filled with angst and terror and sadness but this week's season 4 finale was all that and more. The family St. Patrick's dynamic played out in all its glory. Wife Tasha wasted no time in telling husband Ghost that their daughter's (Raina) killer has to be hunted down and killed. She told Ghost to get it right and to not get caught. She was in mourning mode and had no effs to give about anyonr's feelings, least of all her philandering husband's. She questioned Tariq, her wayward brother AND Ghost's son, about what he knew about his twin sister's killing. He said, "Nothing." But he lied. Tariq saw the whole thing, He knows who killed his sister (dirty cop Ray Ray) because the killer was gunning for him. Revenge belonged to Tariq tonight. The episode ends with Ghost, Tommy, his best friend, and Kanan (series creator 50 Cent) out hunting for the man (Dre) who'd arranged the hit on Tariq, but whose hitta killed Raina by accident. The Three Musketeers. It was all about business that turned personal that turned deadly. So much death, double-crossing and lying. My head was spinning. Will Ghost stay out of jail? Will Tasha keep him down again? Will Tommy lighten up? Man needs a vacation or some Paxil. All in all, a slam-bam season ending in a very involved, deep episode. The season closed on a tense high note and set up the purpose for season 5 perfectly. Long Live la famille St. Patrick and all their crooked co-horts.

Friday, September 1, 2017

You know what time it is.

Okay. Okay. I know I did this last year But so what? It's my blog. I can do what I want. I implore you. "Get up off of that thing. Dance and you'll feel better," said James Brown. Get on your feet. Welcome the month and say bye to the last unofficial weekend of summer according to those who run resorts (actually, you got another 31/2 weeks).

Whatever. Just dance to the iconic, legendary, unparalleled elements of the Universe!


Bring it, Maurice, Philip, Verdine et al!

P. S.
I don't know which is more disturbing. The white go-go boots on the dude relaxing, or his burgundy knee pants, or the lime green pants, or the red flares right behind them. Or the fact no one looks embarrassed by their individual, or collective, ensembles. Such '70s goodness.