Black Swan Records


Answers to Questions About New York


Q. The liner notes for one of my albums mentions a Black Swan Records in New York. It sounds interesting. Could you tell me about the company?

A. Black Swan Records formally existed only from 1921 to its bankruptcy in 1923, but its cultural influence was profound. “By 1924, Black Swan was known not only as a pioneering black-owned business, but also as a radical experiment in black politics and culture,” David Suisman, a history professor at the University of Delaware, wrote in Humanities magazine last year.

The first major black-owned record company, it was founded by Harry H. Pace, a banking and insurance worker who had graduated valedictorian of his class at Atlanta University, where he became a disciple of one of his professors, W. E. B. Du Bois, the sociologist and founder of the N.A.A.C.P. Pace worked as the business manager of an early Du Bois journal of black ideas and culture. Later, in 1912, he met W. C. Handy, the “father of the blues,” in Memphis, and they formed the Pace & Handy Music Company, combining Pace’s business knowledge and Handy’s creative genius. In 1918, they moved Pace & Handy to the Gaiety Theater building on Broadway, which they promoted as the Home of the Blues and their company as the Leading Colored Music Publishers.

In early 1921, Pace struck out on his own, taking most of the office staff with him to found Pace Phonograph Company — its first office was in his home on West 138th Street — and starting Black Swan Records. It was aimed at recording black performers at a time when many big record companies would not. Pace’s goal was to challenge white stereotypes by recording not just comic and blues songs, but also sacred and operatic music and serious ballads. Du Bois was one of Black Swan’s directors.


Million March In Harlem August 13th: Stop the Bombing of Libya


African-American – News

African-American – News July 31, 2011

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Air Force Chief of Staff speaks about diversity at NAACP dinner
Air Force Chief of Staff speaks about diversity at NAACP dinner (Robins Rev-up)
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz addresses the audience at the NAACP’s Annual Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Awards Dinner held in Los Angeles on July 26, 2011.
Hispanics have to claw their way to the top: Political Insider (NJ)
Published: Saturday, July 30, 2011, 2:47 PM Updated: Saturday, July 30, 2011, 2:56 PM View full size Journal photo There’s nothing wrong with a parade, but it would be nice if a community could muster as much enthusiasm for a local election.

Few, proud and black (CNN)
Edwin J. Fizer got off the train to report for training at Montford Point, North Carolina in the summer of 1942.

The Rev. Philip L. Pryor and other members of the First Baptist...
The Rev. Philip L. Pryor and other members of the First Baptist… (Port Clinton News Herald)
The former First Baptist Church building has a rich history. The building, which housed the first African-American congregation in Port Clinton, is slated for demolition.
Black teen’s unusual talent: Singing Chinese opera (Asbury Park Press Online)
Tyler Thompson rehearses with the Great Wall Youth Orchestra in Oakland, Calif. The 15-year-old Oakland native, who sings traditional Chinese opera in Mandarin, plans to perform in China this summer.


Enjoy Park Greenery, City Says, but Not as Salad


Enjoy Park Greenery, City Says, but Not as Salad

Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Leda Meredith, right, who wrote a book about eating locally on a budget, leads tours in Prospect Park about foraging.

Published: July 29, 2011


Maybe it is the spiraling cost of food in a tough economy or the logical next step in the movement to eat locally. Whatever the reason, New Yorkers are increasingly fanning out across the city’s parks to hunt and gather edible wild plants, like mushrooms, American ginger and elderberries.

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Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Ruby Harris, 9, of Brooklyn, inspecting an edible plant on a foraging tour of Prospect Park.

Now parks officials want them to stop. New York’s public lands are not a communal pantry, they say. In recent months, the city has stepped up training of park rangers and enforcement-patrol officers, directing them to keep an eye out for foragers and chase them off.

“If people decide that they want to make their salads out of our plants, then we’re not going to have any chipmunks,” said Maria Hernandez, director of horticulture for the Central Park Conservancy, the nonprofit group that manages Central Park.


My Very Own Captain America

Clipped from

My Very Own Captain America


My grandfather spoke to me this week. That would’ve been unremarkable if not for the fact that he died four years ago.

I had ducked into a movie theater to escape the maddening debt-limit debacle. I chose “Captain America: The First Avenger.” Surely that would reset the patriotic optimism.

But as I watched the scenes of a fictitious integrated American Army fighting in Europe at the end of World War II, I became unsettled. Yes, I know that racial revisionism has become so common in film that it’s almost customary, so much so that moviegoers rarely balk or even blink. And even I try not to think too deeply about shallow fare. Escapism by its nature must bend away from reality. But this time I was forced to bend it back. It was personal.

The only black fighting force on the ground in Europe during World War II was the 92nd Infantry Division: the now famous, segregated “Buffalo Soldiers.” My grandfather, Fred D. Rhodes, was one of those soldiers.

The division was activated late in the war, more out of acquiescence to black leaders than the desire of white policy makers in the war department who doubted the battle worthiness of black soldiers. It was considered to be an experiment, one that the writer of the department’s recommendation to re-establish it would later describe as “programmed to fail from the inception.”



Police Search for Two Girls Missing Since Monday

Police Search for Two Girls Missing Since Monday

July 27, 2011 9:41am | By Tuan Nguyen, DNAinfo

Queen Sutherland, 14, (L) and Janell Johnson, 13, were last seen in Harlem July 25, 2011. (NYPD)

UPPER EAST SIDE — Police are seeking the public’s help to locate two girls who have been missing since Monday night.

Queen Sutherland, 14, of E 102nd Street and Janell Johnson, 13, of Brooklyn, were last seen around 9:00 p.m. in Sutherland’s house in Harlem. The girls are cousins, police said.

Sutherland is described as 4-foot-11-inches tall and weighing 100 pounds. She has black and blond braids and was last seen wearing an orange t-shirt, blue jeans and neon green and gray sneakers.

Johnson, who stands five-foot-six-inches tall and weighs 115 lbs., has long black hair that she often wears in a ponytail. She was last seen wearing a white t-shirt with the words “Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Pretty” and purple pants, and white and purple Airmax sneakers.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or send their tips or text 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

All calls are strictly confidential.

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Unearthing Traces of African-American Village Displaced by Central Park

Unearthing Traces of African-American Village Displaced by Central Park


For more than a decade, anthropologists and historians pieced together the history of a short-lived African-American community that was snuffed out in the 1850s by the creation of Central Park. They combed vital records and tax documents, scanned parkland using radar and studied soil borings.

But because the vestiges of the community were buried beneath the park, the leaders of the Institute for the Exploration of Seneca Village History — a consortium of three professors from City College, Barnard College and New York University — were kept from doing the one thing that would open a window onto the daily existence of the some 260 residents: digging.

That all changed eight weeks ago, after they won permission from the city to excavate in an area of the park near 85th Street and Central Park West.

While the borings of the past produced just a few artifacts, the dig, which will end on Friday, generated 250 bags of material that should keep the scholars busy for months, if not years. The work on Wednesday alone yielded a toothbrush handle fashioned of bone and the lid of a stoneware jar.

About two-thirds of the residents of Seneca Village were African-American, while the rest were of European descent, mostly Irish. The community was settled in the 1820s, a few years before slavery was abolished in New York. Despite old news reports that the village was a squatter camp, it was, in fact, made up of working- and middle-class property owners.

Detailed historical maps indicate that the village stretched from 82nd to 89th Streets, between what were then Seventh and Eighth Avenues. Nan A. Rothschild, an anthropologist who is a professor at Columbia University and Barnard College, said that there were other settlements in the area, but that “this is the most formal, coherent community that we know of, because it was laid out in a grid pattern and had three churches and a school.”

With the help of 10 college interns, the institute focused on two primary sites: the yard of a resident named Nancy Moore, and the home of William G. Wilson, a sexton at All Angels’ Episcopal Church, both of whom were black. Records show that Mr. Wilson and his wife, Charlotte, had eight children and lived in a three-story wood-frame house.

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Student interns in Central Park at the site of Seneca Village, which was settled in the 1820s.

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Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

A shard of pottery found at the site.

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Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Buttons were among the settlement artifacts.

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Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

The bowl of a clay pipe from the village, which was demolished in the 1850s.

African-American – News

African-American – News July 28, 2011

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New Census Data Show Disparities (WVNS-TV)
According to data from the 2010 census, West Virginia males outnumbered females in every year of age from birth to 46.

Belafonte: Hollywood won't yield to those of color
Belafonte: Hollywood won’t yield to those of color (Dayton Daily News)
Harry Belafonte says Hollywood has yet to explore the breadth of black experience and that the industry will “never ever yield to the needs of people of color.” The 84-year-old entertainer made the remarks at a presentation on artists and activism held Wednesday during the 102nd annual National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s …
High school student alleges racial bias in valedictorian choice (WTTV Indianapolis)
A black high school valedictorian says in a federal lawsuit that her school discriminated against her when they made her share the stage with a white “co-valedictorian” who had a lower grade point average.

NAACP urges minorities to up vote in 2012 (Salon)
The NAACP plans a big push to increase minority turnout in the 2012 elections, hoping to gain political influence and turn back what the civil rights group says are efforts in various states to deny minorities the right to vote.

What It Means To Be 'Black In Latin America'
What It Means To Be ‘Black In Latin America’ (National Public Radio)
Between 1502 and 1866, 11.2 million Africans disembarked from slave ships in the New World during the Middle Passage.
Fight for gay marriage subject of new doc (EDGE)
Out filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris was stunned to learn of State Representative Byron Rushing’s leadership role in the fight for and the passage of the Massachusetts same sex marriage equality legislation.

Republicans turn back redistricting challenges (Windsock)
The state Senate on Monday approved a new congressional political map and both the Senate and the House adopted their own legislative plans.

Black teen's unusual talent: Singing Chinese opera
Black teen’s unusual talent: Singing Chinese opera (St. Augustine Record)
Tyler Thompson is an unlikely star in the world of Chinese opera. The black teenager from Oakland has captivated audiences in the U.S. And China with his ability to sing pitch-perfect Mandarin and perform the ancient Chinese art form.


New Boss Looks to Revive Harlem Hospital

New Boss Looks to Revive Harlem Hospital

July 26, 2011 7:37am | By Jeff Mays, DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

Denise Soares, the new Executive Director of Harlem Hospital outside its new addition, scheduled to open in August 2012. (DNAinfo/Jeff Mays)

HARLEM—By the time she saw the thick black smoke rising from the Hudson River, Denise Soares, the new executive director for Harlem Hospital Center, was already on her BlackBerry.

Soares saw the smoke while on the roof of the hospital’s new addition during a walk-through last week. A fire and explosion at the North River Wastewater Treatment plant meant the possibility of patients with burns, chemical contamination and the need for emergency surgeries. Twenty ambulances were already on the scene.

In a span of five minutes, Soares, a lifelong resident of the Bronx, called or texted the hospital police, the burn unit, the emergency department, the nursing department, the chief operating officer, admitting department, the operating room and the plastics surgery department.


The emergency room needed to be cleared for the decontamination area and operating rooms had to be prepped. The chief nursing executive was advised to prepare her staff for a possible onslaught of patients. The flurry of calls involved two BlackBerries, a land line, Soares’ secretary and the associate director of public affairs.

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African-American – News

African-American – News July 27, 2011

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NAACP President Jealous Calls Out Racist Voting Bills at Convention
NAACP President Jealous Calls Out Racist Voting Bills at Convention (The Afro American Newspaper)
NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous evoked biblical characters and said faith is what the nation’s oldest civil rights organization has to have in order to follow through on the mission it started 102 years ago.
Venable, Belmont Fastest Growing Neighborhoods in Charlottesville (WCAV)
Charlottesville neighborhoods have grown and the population has become more diverse in the past decade, according to a report by demographers at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

Early birth link to stress disorder (BBC News)
Post traumatic stress disorder is a risk factor for premature birth, research suggests.

Black student sues over valedictorian flap (MSNBC)
PINE BLUFF, Ark. – A black teenager is suing an Arkansas school district, contending her high school discriminated against her by refusing to let her be sole valedictorian even though she had the highest grade-point average.

Being a White Female Rapper Does Not Give You Permission to use the N Word (womanist-musings)
All right, I am sure some of you have been following the mess that Kreayshawn and her crew, White Girl Mobs have created since their first single. There are many reasons why I find these women distasteful (note that’s me being nice) and chief amongst their justification of their continual usage of the N word. Little Miss Gucci Gucci had no problem say the word nigga on twitter. Yeah, heaven save us from White folks and their lived experience when it comes to race. Yes, growing up poor in a classist society is a form of oppression but in no way does that give one the right to utilize racist language, because no matter how much you feel like you have been in trenches right next to Black folks, you have not. What galls me about this is that this woman absolutely knows that what she is saying is offensive and yet she has found a twisted way to justify this.

NAACP Discusses Same Sex Marriage (NBC Los Angeles)
Gay rights are an awkward topic for the NAACP. And an appearance by Comic Wanda Sykes may have made some attendees squirm at a panel discussion in Downtown L.A. “I didn’t have to ‘come out’ Black,” offers Comic Wanda Sykes.

Recession Study Finds Hispanics Hit the Hardest (HendersonvilleNews)
Hispanic families accounted for the largest single decline in wealth of any ethnic and racial group in the country during the recession, according to a study published Tuesday by the Pew Foundation.