Amy Jacques Garvey, ”New York Jews Raise Over Six Million Dollars – What of Negroes?” Originally published in The Negro World, 5 June 1926.
The United Jewish campaign to raise $6,000,000 in Greater New York alone for the relief of Jews of Eastern Europe ended a few days ago. The amount was over-subscribed by $656,000. The national campaign aims to raise twenty-five million dollars, and from all indications this amount will also be over-subscribed.
The Bureau of Jewish Social Research estimates that there are only 3,600,00 0 Jews in this country, yet their ambition is to raise the enormous sum of twenty-five million dollars; not for their own benefit here, but to send to Europe to help their fellow-Jews who are in need. Such an example of racial love can not be too highly commended, as we ponder over the fellowship of these people, our thoughts return to our own race; but ah, how different it is with us. Fifteen million Negroes in America and what genius could get them to subscribe one dollar each for any laudable purpose that would benefit them here? As for sending money abroad to benefit Negroes in other countries, why almost every Negro newspaper would raise a storm of protest, and petty Negro politicians would shed greedy tears at the idea of American dollars going to help “foreign” Negroes. “Let them help themselves,” some of us would growl, “and if they can’t, that’s their hard luck.”
This accursed selfishness of the Negro has been his undoing, and until the Universal Negro Improvement Association has reached the heart of each and every one, he will continue to think of national boundaries and ignore racial ties.
Before Marcus Garvey gave birth to his great idea of a united Negro race — excepting none whether they be one per cent. or one hundred per cent.–West Indian Negroes were regarded by us as monkeys, and both groups regarded the African Negro as a maneater, thus unknowingly succumbing to the white man’s propaganda, and carrying out his policy of divide and rule. But Marcus Garvey showed them the folly of their way; he congregated thousands from different parts of the world in international conventions, where they heard each other’s tales of woe, compared notes, looked into each other’s eyes and felt the kinship of blood, and realized that all Negroes were brothers and their destiny was one. Now the Universal Negro Improvement Association can proudly boast of millions of members, whose concern is not where you were born, but are you a Negro.
This organization has a drive on for one million new members and one million dollars, to carry on its work of Negro uplift and African redemption, and we sincerely hope that the Jews will not put us to shame; but that in proportion to our meagre earnings we will oversubscribe the amount, which is a small amount indeed for the great work planned by our leader.
Jewish women have played an important part in making their campaign a success, and it is up to Negro women to rally to the call and round up the recruits and the dollars. One Jewish woman alone collected $161,200. Surely Negro women who have collected moneys to build so many churches, will now turn their attention to nation building, and thereby ensure the future for posterity.
This money must be raised and raised quickly. Extending the campaign over long indefinite periods will not help. A few hundred thousand dollars in the treasury of the organization could accomplish much along all lines, but small amounts coming in spasmodically cannot be used to advantage. Women! This is your opportunity to make your contribution to the race. Let the world know that Negroes can and will support their own cause and protect their brothers anywhere and everywhere.
This article tells the journey of three men: their discovery of “The Shero of Our Story,” the lack of a marker on her grave, and the founding of the Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation to rectify that historical oversight.
SHINE ON, ETERNAL LIGHT
Tune — “Hamiltonia”
words and Music by ARNOLD J. FORD
Shine on, Eternal Light
To greet our souls this day;
Dispel the gloominess of night
And drive our doubts away.
Our longing eyes prepare
When war and strife shall cease,
To view the morn soon to appear;
The “New Era” of Peace.
Thy Temple O our God,
No kingdom can remove,
Made without hands, this blest abode,
The Harbinger of Love.
Of all the gifts that flow
From Thy great throne above,
We ask Thee on our hearts bestow
The gift of “Perfect Love.”
My soul the Light receives
And dares the Truth to prove,
Not in blind ignorance believes,
But knows that God is love.
Come Love, and give new birth
To man’s destructive mind.
Spread where confusion reigns on earth
Good-will to all mankind.
Shine on, Eternal Light,
Thy penetrating ray
Shall turn the hour of darkest night
Into Eternal Day.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JULY 20, 2013 is HENRIETTA VINTON DAVIS GRAVE MARKER UNVEILING
-Events to recognize cultural icon-
Washington, DC –Today the Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation (HVDMF) announced plans to unveil a marker at the grave of its namesake in National Harmony Memorial Park. The Foundation has as its mission to raise awareness of the life and legacy of Shakespearean actor, elocutionist, dramatic reader and activist Henrietta Vinton Davis.
Miss Davis remained relatively unrecognized until July 1983 when an article entitled “Henrietta Vinton Davis and the Garvey Movement” by Professor William Seraile was published in the journal ‘Afro-Americans in New York Life and History’. Nearly a year later, acknowledgment of her contributions increased with the publication of the book ‘Shakespeare in Sable’ written by Professor Errol Hill of Dartmouth University. Her home in Northeast Washington, DC has been listed on Cultural Tourism DC’s African American Heritage Trail since 1999.
On Saturday July 20, 2013 the HVDMF starts the day off with an award presentation and celebration at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, culminating with the unveiling of a marker at Miss Davis’ grave site at National Harmony Memorial Park. Guest speakers and celebrants include:
Dr. William Seraile (Bruce Grit), Barbara Eklof (For Every Season), Kevin Grace (Friends of Joe Gans), Nnamdi Azikiwe (Vinton Davis Weblog) and Mwariama Kamau (UNIA). Producing partners for the occasion are Vaunita Goodman (MTPC) and Michon Boston (Iola’s Letter). Clayton LeBouef (Something The Lord Made, The Wire, Homicide) will serve as Master of Ceremonies.
In 2008, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty issued a proclamation designating August 25 ‘Henrietta Vinton Davis Day.’ The decree acknowledged Davis as the first African American to work at the DC Recorder of Deeds office beginning in 1878, before Frederick Douglass was appointed Recorder. She made her career debut as a Shakespearean actor, elocutionist and dramatic reader in Washington, DC on April 25, 1883 where she was introduced by Douglass, a family friend. The proclamation acknowledges the success of Miss Davis as a public speaker and cultural icon.
Celebration / Award Presentation recognizing Vera J. Katz, (Professor Emerita Howard University Theatre Arts) and others will be conducted in the A-5 Auditorium 11am-1:30-pm at the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial Library 901 G Street, NW, Washington, D.C. (202) 727-0321
Livication / Henrietta Vinton Davis Marker Unveiling will be conducted 3pm-5pm at her grave site in National Harmony Memorial Park 7101 Sheriff Road Largo, MD (301) 772-0900
Events are free and open to the public.
About Henrietta Vinton Davis
For thirty-five years after her debut performing “Shakespearean delineations”, original plays and dramatic readings with her own performing company, and local troupes throughout the United States, South America and the Caribbean, Henrietta Vinton Davis broke new ground as a successful theatrical artisan. Her commitment to her craft gained her recognition as the first African American “woman of the stage.”
During 1919, a year notable for its “Red Summer,” she joined the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League headed by Marcus Garvey.
As a leader of the African Redemption Movement, Davis made use of her acting skills to promote the aims and objectives of the UNIA. Her ability to “transport her listeners” to another place with her oratorical skills played a key role in both attracting members to the organization and promoting the Black Star Line Shipping Company. As such, she was elected to numerous positions including International Organizer, and Third Assistant President General of the UNIA. Additionally, as Vice President and a Director of the Black Star Line, Davis was the de facto authority aboard the Black Star Line’s flagship vessel, the S.S. Yarmouth, on its maiden voyage. The ship was laden with a cargo worth upwards of $5.000.000 destined for the Caribbean. On the ship’s return Marcus Garvey proclaimed Miss Davis “the greatest woman of the [African] race today” in a meeting at the UNIA’s Liberty Hall.
About The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation
Initially organized to raise funds for a marker at the grave of Lady Henrietta Vinton Davis
in 2005, the mission of The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation has evolved to include publishing books, producing plays, films/videos and conducting symposiums educating the general public about her life and the times in which she lived.
A scene from the play Christophe by William Edgar Easton
Proclamation for Henrietta Vinton Davis Day
Address by Marcus Garvey at the Palace Casino
[Negro World, 21 June 1919]
Over three thousand persons, members and friends of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, assembled at the Palace Casino, 135th street and Madison Avenue, New York City, Sunday evening, June 15, to greet Mr. Marcus Garvey, president-general and International Organizer of the association, who has just returned to the city after an extended lecture in Michigan, Virginia and Canada.
Mr. Edgar M. Grey, general secretary of the association, called the meeting to order a few minutes after nine o’clock, by the singing of the opening hymn, “From Greenland’s Icy Mountains.” After a few brief remarks by the chairman, a musical program consisting of one violin solo by Master William Wilkinson, and a piano solo by Miss Irene Callender was rendered. Mr. George Tobias, treasurer of the association, was next presented to the
audience and surprised his hearers and friends by revealing unsuspected talent as a reader, when he gave an impressive rendition of Wendell Phillips’ great oration on Toussaint L’Ouverture.
The next speaker introduced was Miss Henrietta Vinton Davis, the popular and talented elocutionist ofWashington, D.C., who, as a tribute to the children who had so splendidly entertained for the evening, recited a poem entitled “Little Brown Baby with Sparkling Eyes,” written by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, poet laureate of the Negro Race.
In order to make the recitation as realistic as possible, Miss Davis used for the occasion a large colored doll manufactured by Berry & Ross, who had very kindly loaned it for the occasion. At the end of the recitation Miss Davis made a stirring appeal for support for the factory that was doing so much to inculcate a spirit of race pride in the Negro race.
Following this the chairman asked for a silver collection, which was heartily and liberally responded to. Taking as his theme, the subject of race pride, the chairman then made a few short and cryptic remarks in which he pointed out that the principal concern of the race was not so much in finding out how to die but in learning how to live.
At the close of his address the chairman then introduced as the next speaker the person whose commanding personality was responsible for the vast assemblage that evening, Mr. Marcus Garvey. Mr. Garvey began his address by thanking all those who had supported the officers of the association, while he was absent touring the West, Canada and the South. He then told how efforts were being made by enemies of the association to discredit both himself and the organization. He specifically named Mr. William Bridges, editor of the “Challenge Magazine,” and a well known stepladder orator on Lenox avenue, as having assailed him in many ways while he was away. On his return to the city he had taken up the gauntlet and challenged the editor of the “Challenge” to meet him in open debate, which Mr. Bridges at first declined, but under pressure of public opinion was compelled to accept. Mr. Garvey then outlined the debate which had taken place the night before at the corner of 138th street and Lenox avenue, and which he assured his audience resulted in the complete and inglorious defeat of his opponent. The speaker also told of the plots engineered against himself and the organization by a cabal of envious and malicious individuals, who being incapable of thinking internationally, were doing everything of an underhand nature to wreck the organization; but inasmuch as the organization had firmly established itself in a majority of the States of the Union, the islands of West Indies, several republics of South and Central America and on the west coast of Africa, it was next to impossible for any group of men or any government to entirely destroy it. He was there that evening, he said, for the purpose of defending himself and the organization, and to give a detailed explanation of the feasibility of the Black Star Line project.
He then roused his audience to the highest pitch of enthusiasm when he recited to them the prowess of the Black race and how it was possible for the scattered millions of Negroes all over the world to accomplish the liberation of Africa by supporting the plans of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League. Dramatically striking his chest, Mr. Garvey convincingly assured his hearers that all cowardice had departed from his anatomy, “for,” he said, “if I could have died on the field of Flanders of France in the white man’s cause, I can die in America fighting for myself and my race.” At this a storm of applause rent the building. Men and women rose to their feet and handkerchiefs were waved over head as every individual vied with his neighbor to show that the orator had transmitted the spirit of courage from himself to the entire audience.
After scathingly condemning those who were opposing the organization as “white men’s niggers” and cowards, the speaker told of the great work that was being done by the Newport News branch, which had pledged itself to subscribe $100,000 for the purpose of making the Black Star Line a reality. At the close of his address, which lasted for over an hour and generously applauded throughout, Mr. Garvey made an eloquent and impressive appeal for funds to help the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities’ League in the prosecution of its many plans for the liberation of the Negroes of the world and the founding of a Negro nation on the continent of Africa. The audience showed their sincere appreciation of the evening’s exercises by subscribing most liberally.