Black History Fun Fact Friday – Selma Burke

Welcome back to Black History Fun Facts where I am still not finished with my original article (lol), but I got you covered.

Now, we are familiar with Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and many of the writers and musicians of The Harlem Renaissance Movement. What we are not always familiar with are the painters, photographers, and sculptors. That is why when I find someone great, I like to highlight them.

Before we go on, take a moment and dig into your purse, wallet or coin jar (or coin purse….I know some of ya’ll still have them!) Wherever you keep your change, pick out a dime.

In the 1920s, Selma Burke became one of the African American women of the Harlem Renaissance through her relationship with the writer Claude McKay. The two shared a Manhattan apartment but McKay was mean, destroying her work when he didn’t like it, and the relationship was a strange one. Nonetheless, it was through Claude that Burke got introduced to the Harlem community. She studied under another black woman sculptor of the movement, Augusta Savage.

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Selma Burke in her studio, Peter A. Juley & Son Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum J0100403.

An educator, Burke later taught at the Harlem Community Art Center and founded the Selma Burke Art School in New York City and the Selma Burke Art Center in Pittsburgh. (This makes her one of my heroes since I do want to start my own school one day.) Burke is most famous for her 1944 sculpture of Franklin D. Roosevelt, which was the model for his image on the dime, though she never received credit for it. Only now are people starting to recognize that she was the inspiration behind the image.

Burke’s sculpting of the image came about as part of a contest, where she wrote the White House stating that she could not sculpt the image from a photo alone. The White House responded and granted her a sitting with the president. The credit for the plaque was given to U.S. Mint Chief Engraver John Sinnock but it was Burke who created the original design. Burke also sculpted Booker T. Washington and later, Martin Luther King, Jr.

Burke made sculpture by shaping white clay from her parents’ farm as a child. After being educated at what is now Winston-Salem State University and trained as a nurse at St. Agnes Hospital Nursing School in Raleigh, Burke moved to New York City to work as a private nurse.

“Selma Burke was born on December 31, 1900, in Mooresville, North Carolina, the seventh of 10 children of Neil and Mary Colfield Burke. Her father was an AME Church Minister who worked on the railroads for additional income. As a child, she attended a one-room segregated schoolhouse and often played with the riverbed clay found near her home. She would later describe the feeling of squeezing the clay through her fingers as the first encounter with sculpture, saying “It was there in 1907 that I discovered me.” – Wikipedia

After completing a Masters of Fine Arts at Columbia University in 1941, Burke began to teach art, first at the Harlem Community Art Center and later at schools she founded in New York and Pittsburgh.

Burke’s last monumental work, a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Marshall Park in Charlotte, was completed in 1980. Selma Burke died in 1995 in New Hope, Pennsylvania.

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Writer’s Wednesday: Renaissance Sneak Peeks

“Alright, girl, here’s another one. This here from Caroline down the road”, said Pearl.

Molly rolled her eyes, “Alright, put it on the table.”

“Whew, child. You mind if I oblige myself to this here sofa? All this running around, can’t be healthy.” Pearl heaved in and out as she sat down, lighting a cigarette. She closed her eyes, savoring the nicotine in her throat before releasing it into the air.

Molly chuckled, “Did you just say running can’t be healthy?”

Pearl cut her eyes at Molly, smiled, and answered by taking another long pull from the cigarette. Pearl was a big girl, and proud of it. She had a plump backside, wide hips, thick legs, and big breasts. So is the make-up of all the Tate’s.

“Girl, you know I can’t be losing no weight. Charles will have a fit. Have me walking around here looking all sick like y’all skinny heifers,” said Pearl as Molly laughed.

“I’m serious. Shoot, the bigger the berry, the sweeter the juice.”

“No you didn’t!” laughed Molly. Pearl joined in. She cracked herself up.

Molly glanced over the table, almost completely covered with German Chocolate cake, sweet potato pies, greens, macaroni and cheese, yams, baked beans; you name it, it was here.

“She’s not dead, you know,” Molly spoke from nowhere.

“What?”

“All of this support. It’s like everyone’s acting like this is some kinda repass. Like my daughter is dead or something.”

Pearl let the cigarette die out in the ashtray. Whatever kinda buzz she had, Molly just blew it.

“They just tryna be supportive is all. You know how country folk are. Your child is their child. The men folk are out looking and the women folk are at home cooking. That’s how it is.”

“They will find her.”

Pearl shrugged, “Humph, I know they will. Got the dogs, NAACP and everything else. They better find her.”

“I mean alive. They’re going to find her alive. I can feel her, Pearl.” Molly thought about the last time she saw her very own mother that night on the porch, cold and tired. She wondered for a moment if that’s how Nora felt right now: alone, cold, and tired. Molly wanted to feed her. To give her all this food that was made for her.

Pearl sat back on the sofa, Here we go again. She wasn’t entirely honest with Molly, but everyone wore the same consensus on their hearts. There was a strong possibility they were not going to find Nora alive. No one wanted to give her credit because she talked too much. Miss Irene talked entirely too much and spoke with an unfiltered tongue, but what she said was true. Children in 1922 Mississippi didn’t just run away.

First, no one would let them. Besides their parents, there were just too many eyes watching, which is what makes it hard to believe no one saw anything. This was the South and you had not one parent or two, you had forty, fifty, and sixty. The whole colored community. People looked out for each other and someone, somewhere was always watching.

Still, she didn’t know how to break the news to her friend that she should prepare her heart for the unthinkable. Besides, she had her Marie to think about and she didn’t know what she’d do if something happened to her. If there was one thing her parents taught her, it was putting yourself in other people’s shoes. “That the onliest way to sympathize wit ‘em,” her father would say. “You gotta be able to feel where they been, where they walked, and then you can help ‘em ‘cause you knows. You knows in your heart what they been through and where they is.”

“She gone be alright, Molly. She gone be alright.”

Pearl lit her cigarette again, leaned back on the sofa, looked at the table, and prayed her words were true


Grab your copy of Renaissance today. Part two is on its way!

Renaissance Ebook 99cents from now through Friday 12/29

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW

After letting Revelation: The Nora White Story Book Two, sit for about two months, I am right back into revisions and getting excited all over again. As such, I decided to give those of you who have not read Book One an opportunity to do so.

Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One) is now available for just 99cents in eBook on Amazon from now through Friday, December 29, 2017. Also, be sure to leave me an honest review if you feel so obliged after this short read.  Reviews greatly help readers to understand what to expect from these books and are a great source of feedback for Indie Authors. As always, your support is golden.

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW

 

“The writing is of a very high quality, evoking period and place so well that I was transported to the Jazz Clubs and writers’ circles of nineteen twenties New York and to the equally hot and humid atmosphere of the Mississippi Delta.”

– Frank Parker

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW

Shadows and Lights of Harlem – Interview with Author Yecheilyah Ysrayl

I am mobile and will be over the next few days so I’ll be sharing Guest Posts this way because I cannot reblog.

Be sure to stop by Sarah’s blog for my latest interview on Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One)

Special thanks to Sarah for having me.

CLICK THROUGH TO THE ORIGINAL LINK BELOW:

https://theoldshelter.com/shadows-and-lights-of-harlem-interview-with-author-yecheilyah-ysrayl/

The Harlem Renaissance No One Talks About – Guest Post by, Yecheilyah Ysrayl…

For some reason I can’t reblog from my mobile anymore.

However, that’s not why you’re here…

Do be sure to check out my latest article on The Story Reading Ape Blog at the link below. We are covering some basic history on The Harlem Renaissance movement, to include what no one talks about.

Click through to the original post at the link below.

http://wp.me/p3mGq7-guo

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Renaissance and if you’ve read it, and you’re so obliged to do so, I’d be honored if you could leave an honest review!

 

Thanks,

Yecheilyah 💕

Black History Fun Fact Friday – Nora Holt

Did you know there was a woman writer during the Harlem Renaissance named Nora? Yup.

Nora Ad 2

One of the things I wanted to do with The Nora White Story project is to make everything make as much sense as possible. I know how important it is that everything fits the era to include names. Thus, I used names that were familiar with the time. Some of the names, like Nora, jumped out at me from the start. However, some of them were not so easy. To make sure everyone’s name (even minor characters) fit the time, I Googled the census data for popular names of the 1920s and scrolled through male and female names. So, who was Nora Holt?

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Nora Holt

Nora was a singer, composer and music critic. Born Lena Douglas in Kansas City, Kansas; Nora graduated from Western University of Quindaro, Kansas and later earned a Bachelor’s degree in music in 1917. In 1918, she earned her Master’s Degree in music at Chicago Musical College, becoming one of the first African-American women to complete a Master’s program in the United States. Her thesis composition was an orchestral work called Rhapsody on Negro Themes.

Nora was married quite a few times. On the fourth time, she changed her name from Lena to Nora when she married George Holt in 1916.

From 1917-1921 Nora contributed music criticism pieces to the Chicago Defender, a black daily newspaper. In 1919, she co-founded the National Association of Negro Musicians and then spent 12 years abroad in Europe and Asia singing at night clubs and private parties. Although composing over 200 works of orchestral music, one of the reasons Nora Holt is not well known is because her work was stolen. Upon leaving for Europe in 1926, she placed her manuscripts in storage when she returned they were gone. Only one piece survived because it was published prior to the theft and is called Negro Dance, (ragtime-based piano piece).

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Nora

Holt moved to Harlem in the early 1920s, where she became an important part of the Harlem Renaissance. She became good friends with novelist and critic Carl Van Vechten.

(You can meet some of these historical figures when they make special guest appearances in my new novel, Renaissance: The Nora White Story which releases tomorrow. Today (7/14) is the last day to get it at the reduced price of $1.99)

Nora was also a teacher. She studied music at the University of Southern California in the 1930s and went on to teach music in Los Angeles for several years. Nora was well rounded. Not only was she a writer and musician but she also ran a beauty shop. Apparently Nora knew how important it was to stay fly :-).

In 1943, Holt took a position as an editor and music critic with a black-oriented publication Amsterdam News and went on to live a full life. During the early 1950s and early 1960s, she hosted a radio concert series called “Nora Holt’s Concert Showcase”. It ran to 1964 and in 1966, she was a member of the First World Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar, Senegal.

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Photo of Nora Holt, taken by Carl Van Vechten, 1955

Nora Holt died January 25, 1974, in Los Angeles.


 

Poetry Contest Reminder: Closing July 19, 2017

As you all know, I am running my first ever poetry contest in honor of my upcoming release Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One) which features poetry and is available now for eBook preorders.

Click Here to order at the low price of $1.99 before the price goes up on July 15th.

This book will also be available in paperback.

You can help further by marking Renaissance as to read on Goodreads. CLICK HERE.

Now, poetry…

I am writing to remind you that this contest will end soon!

First, what is this all about? For those of you who have not already checked into Colleen’s Blog where I made the initial announcement on June 19, 2017,  here are the rules:

The Poem

Submit one or two original, unpublished poems to Yecheilyah at yecheilyah ysrayl dot com (yecheilyah@yecheilyahysrayl.com) between now through July 19, 2017. You will have until 12:00 midnight Central Standard Time on 7/19 to get your poems in before closing.

Poems must be your ORIGINAL work and UNPUBLISHED anywhere online.

There is one winner of this contest with up to 2 entries per poet.

Entry Fee:

There is a $5.00 Entry fee. Click HERE to pay the fee.

OR – Entry fees can be waived by signing up for my email list HERE. There is no other way to waive the fee.

If you are already on my email list, please mention this when submitting your poem.

Signing up for my email list represents one entry.

If you are entering more than one poem, you must pay the entry fee for any additional poems.

The Reason for the Fee:

The entry fee is in place to help pay for the prizes.

Current Prizes

At this time, we have one Grand Prize Winner who will receive:

  • Poem published to The PBS Blog (includes links to your social media, buy links to your books (if any) and promotion.)

  • Amazon Gift Card

  • Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

  • *From When I was a Black Girl by Yecheilyah Ysrayl

  • And Still, I Rise by Maya Angelou

*From When I was a Black Girl is my second collection of poetry. First published in 2012 with a second edition published in 2013, this book became a book of study at The Evergreen State College in Tacoma, Washington for the Fall 2014 semester. Part of an Independent Learning Contract, it remains part of the school’s files to this day. It is my honor to offer a paperback of this collection as a winning prize for this contest. This is an exclusive offer that you will not find on Amazon.

International Shipping

Please note: Winners outside the U.S. will be awarded Kindle downloads of the books listed if someone overseas wins.

Final Thoughts:

The winner will be announced on Monday, August 6, 2017 on both this blog and Colleen’s.

(If you win, you will be notified a couple days before the announcement via email you have won and that an announcement will go out featuring you. This is so that we can collect your information, social links and links to any books you have out if any).

The Grand Prize Winner will have their poetry featured on The PBS Blog with added promotion. The date for this will be revealed to the poet after they have won.

To enter this contest, please send $5.00 to the PayPal of Literary Korner Publishing HERE.

 

To waive your fee, please sign-up to my email list HERE.(Verification of sign-up will be reviewed before poem is accepted).

 

Send your poem to Yecheilyah @ yecheilyahysrayl.com

The Theme

Since Renaissance follows the theme of The Harlem Renaissance and Black life in the South, poems should have something to do with these themes and can be as long or as short as you would like. The contest is open to all poets.

I understand not all of you are familiar with this era so I am opening this up a bit. The theme will remain the same but it is not mandatory. Poems of all kinds will be accepted and considered for the win.

 

Would a focus on the 1920s era and women in general be nice? Yes, but it is not required to win. Consider this open mic!

 

If you didn’t see the original announcement, CLICK HERE to learn more.


That is all and I look forward to reading your poems!