Hammonds House Museum Reopen with Carly Palmer Exhibit

Visitors Can Experience Departure by Charly Palmer

When Hammonds House Museum Reopens on June 25

After more than a year, Hammonds House Museum is happy to announce that the museum will reopen to the public on Friday, June 25.  Patrons and members have participated in the robust virtual programming offered by the museum since last summer, and now they will be able to come back into the museum to enjoy viewing the artwork in person!  Visitors can experience the current exhibition, Departure by Charly Palmer, through August 1, 2021. This vibrant, thought-provoking solo exhibition features Palmer’s work from the last 30 years, including pieces that have never been seen by the public, as well as new artwork created for this show.

To celebrate, admission is FREE on reopening weekend, but guests are required to register online to reserve a time slot. In addition to the Departure exhibition, there will be special festivities including music by DJ Malik Stone on Friday, June 25 from 12 pm – 4 pm, and artist Charly Palmer will be in the museum signing his exhibition catalog on Sunday, June 27 from 2 pm – 4 pm.

Hammonds House Museum’s new schedule is Fridays & Saturdays from 11 am – 5 pm and Sundays from 12 pm – 5 pm. Admission is via online registration only. Protocols are in place so guests will feel comfortable. Masks are required, and sanitizing stations will be available. For additional details, and to reserve your tickets, visit: hammondshouse.org. 

Departure by Charly Palmer is a retrospective of 30 years of art infused with experience, an Identity Crisis, Divided States, Eminent Domain, Introversion, and a deepening appreciation for Black beauty. He is currently exploring the multiple meanings of departure from the time of the Middle Passage, through the Civil War and Civil Rights Movement, up until now. What does that mean for Black people, and what does it mean for him personally as he embarks on a new and unexpected direction to discover what’s next. The exhibition will serve as a bridge between his older work and newer paintings, and will include mixed media and sculptural elements.

Charly Palmer was born in Fayette, AL and raised in Milwaukee, WI. He relocated to Chicago, IL to study Art and Design at American Academy of Art and School of the Art Institute. As a graphic designer and illustrator, he ran a successful design studio with a Fortune 500 clientele. As an instructor, he has taught design, illustration, and painting at Spelman College, among others. Also, he was the first African American Artist to receive the UCLA Regents Lecture Series. 

Palmer’s path as an artist was inspired by his fascination in his youth by illustrations in Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day. “I could never get enough of the imagery in the book,” he says. Keats’ work was magical and planted a seed in his young heart.

For a period, Palmer worked under the pseudonym Carlos — his alter ego. This allowed him to experiment with spontaneity and fluidity. Many of the Carlos pieces were abstract and more primal than the intense paintings that were solidifying his reputation as a social expressionist. The ultimate fusion of these styles, gleaned from history and powerful life experiences became Palmer’s trademark style.

Today Palmer is widely recognized as a fine artist, a muralist, illustrator of children’s books, teacher, graphic designer, and mentor. Highly sought-after public commissions include posters for the 1996 Olympics and artwork for the 2013 Atlanta Jazz Festival. In 2016 he was selected by Fisk University to create artwork commemorating their 150th anniversary and in 2017 Howard University commissioned him for their 150th anniversary. A major project for the Green Bay Packers featuring 20 portraits of players hangs in Lambeau Stadium. John Legend chose him to create a portrait for the cover of his album “Bigger Love,” released in June 2020, and Time Magazine asked him to create the cover art for their July 6, 2020 issue. Most recently he was featured in Rolling Stone Magazine. Devoted to his fine art career, Palmer currently lives and works in Atlanta, GA.

Hammonds House Museum is generously supported by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, Fulton County Arts and Culture, the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, The National Performance Network, AT&T and WarnerMedia.

Hammonds House Museum’s mission is to celebrate and share the cultural diversity and important legacy of artists of African descent. The museum is the former residence of the late Dr. Otis Thrash Hammonds, a prominent Atlanta physician and a passionate arts patron. A 501(c)3 organization which opened in 1988, Hammonds House Museum boasts a permanent collection of more than 450 works including art by Romare Bearden, Robert S. Duncanson, Benny Andrews, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Hale Woodruff, Amalia Amaki, Radcliffe Bailey and Kojo Griffin. 

Located in a beautiful Victorian home in Atlanta’s historic West End, Hammonds House Museum is a cultural treasure and a unique venue. For more information, and to learn how you can support their mission and programming, visit their website: hammondshouse.org.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

A Pioneering Black Singer’s Compositions, Long Forgotten, May Finally Have an Audience

A Pioneering Black Singer’s Compositions, Long Forgotten, May Finally Have an Audience – Texas Monthly

Texas History

Waco-born baritone Jules Bledsoe starred on Broadway and toured Europe, but his original opera and other works languish in obscurity. A Baylor professor hopes to change that.

jules bledsoe texan to know

Jules Bledsoe, left, performing with Turner Layton.
Sasha/Hulton Archive/Getty
Texans You Should Know is a series highlighting overlooked figures and events from Texas history.

On May 11, 1941, the NBC radio network broadcast a concert from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home in Hyde Park, New York. In the presence of the president’s family, a baritone soloist and backing choir performed a new work titled “Ode to America,” dedicated to Roosevelt and introduced with remarks by his wife, Eleanor.

Across the country, African Americans tuned in, aware of the moment’s significance. The lead singer performing for the president, and for national airwaves, was one of the leading musical talents of the era: a Black man from Waco named Jules Bledsoe. And “Ode to America” wasn’t just his big solo. He wrote it.

At its peak, Bledsoe’s career was a dizzying series of triumphs across continents and disciplines. He was the first singer to perform “Ol’ Man River” on Broadway and on film, and his dignified delivery and astonishing voice—deep as the ocean but flawlessly clear and direct—helped make the tune an American standard. (Bledsoe told Virginia’s Daily Press that he lost count after singing “Ol’ Man River” 18,000 times.) He later took the lead role in a 1932 opera, Tom Tom, with words and music written by another Black composer, Shirley Graham. (Tom Tom debuted in a baseball stadium to accommodate the crowds, but has not been performed since. It featured an entirely symbolic story depicting centuries of Black history in Africa and America; newspaper reports indicated that the African scenes used only singers and percussion, with the full orchestra appearing later.) Bledsoe set Countee Cullen’s poem “Pagan Prayer” to music and performed it to widespread acclaim. He starred in Verdi’s Aida in London and Chicago. He toured the United States and Europe, singing and acting in recital programs that combined classical art songs, spiritual arrangements, and his own originals. Many of his accompanists and musical colleagues were white, but he also toured with pianist Carl Rossini Diton, the first Black pianist to do a cross-country tour. Bledsoe was successful enough to hire copyists to write out sheet music parts, to demand his payments in advance, and even to open his own mountain resort in the Catskills.

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But after he died at age 44 from a cerebral hemorrhage, two years after singing “Ode to America” for the Roosevelts, his music was boxed up and forgotten. When Horace Maxile joined Baylor University’s music theory faculty, a colleague politely suggested a visit to the Jules Bledsoe archive on campus, in the Carroll Library’s Texas Collection. Maxile, knowing Bledsoe only as a singer and unaware of the archive’s considerable size—it includes twenty boxes of music, letters, and other materials—procrastinated. When he finally went to see it, he was shocked.

“I see a few boxes, and I’m like: boxes? Original compositions?,” he recalls. “Bledsoe is not a composer that is included even in reference works that talk about Black composers. You see a libretto for an opera on the back of a sheet, and you’re like, ‘An opera? What?’ You’re thinking about Bledsoe breaking down barriers in the opera halls and concert halls. Not only was he performing the standard repertoire expected of an American baritone at the time, he was performing his own music. Not only are there spirituals and folk songs, there are art songs, songs with poignant texts. None of this stuff is recorded. We have, I won’t call it a mountain, but a significant hill of unperformed music by an American composer. This was an amazing person.”

Since almost none of Bledsoe’s compositions were published and he recorded only rarely, most documentation of his career is in the form of concert programs. In May 1937, for example, Bledsoe was featured with Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw Orchestra, then and now one of the world’s best. After a night of Mozart, Schubert, Rossini, and Mahler, Bledsoe’s own arrangements of Negro spirituals provided the grand finale. 

The Baylor archive includes documentation for three Waco concerts, in 1916, 1925, and 1935. In 1916, Bledsoe was a piano student at Bishop College, a historically Black university in Marshall, and demonstrated an unusually diverse repertoire: a showpiece by Franz Liszt appeared alongside works by Frenchwoman Cécile Chaminade and the mixed-race African-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

Bledsoe’s later Waco concerts took place at his childhood church, New Hope Baptist Church, which is still open. On one 1935 night, Bledsoe and Carl Diton offered a four-part program. The first two featured Handel, Mozart, Brahms, and other classical composers; the third set was almost entirely Bledsoe originals, including songs for which he wrote both music and lyrics. For the finale, the duo presented a bouquet of traditional favorites, including a Gospel hymn, with the irresistible title “Songs My Grandmother Used to Sing.”

In the early 1940s, Bledsoe moved to Los Angeles to attempt a career in Hollywood. He made one credited on-screen appearance, in the 1942 drama Drums of the Congo, and may have appeared in other movies too. It’s hard to tell because films of that era did not list every actor or extra in the credits—especially if they were Black.

For example, some online biographies say that Bledsoe appeared in Santa Fe Trail, an all-star blockbuster that raked in a million dollars. Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland played the romantic leads. Triple Oscar winner Max Steiner wrote the score. Two years after Santa Fe Trail’s 1940 release, director Michael Curtiz made Casablanca; forty years later, the young heartthrob who played Flynn’s romantic rival was elected president of the United States.

Since Santa Fe Trail is available on Amazon Prime, I decided to try to find Jules Bledsoe. Unfortunately, the movie is unwatchable pro-Confederacy propaganda. In its plot, abolitionists are filthy, rag-wearing, sneering villains who commit cold-blooded murder, and the Black slaves they rescue not only do not want freedom but do not understand freedom as a concept. In Santa Fe Trail’s world, abolitionists sought to divide the union and noble Southerners fought to preserve it. In one early scene, Jefferson Davis tells the heroes to fight for “the most noble of causes: the defense of the rights of man.” When Flynn meets de Havilland, he says that abolitionism is wrong because “the South can settle her own problem.”

At the 56-minute mark, the film depicts a large group of slaves singing together in a barn, mostly in the background. Unwilling to watch further, I assumed that Bledsoe must have been one of those singers and I turned off the television. We will likely never know for sure whether or where he appears, because not one Black performer in Santa Fe Trail is named in the credits. According to IMDb, fewer than ten have been identified.

jules bledsoe texan to knowjules bledsoe texan to know
Jules Bledsoe standing beside his 1929 Packard Dual Cowl Phaeton.The Texas Collection/Baylor University Libraries

There is much we do not know about Jules Bledsoe. We don’t know why he chose music in the first place, giving up a place at Columbia University’s medical school. We don’t know what happened to his opera, titled Bondage, which Maxile says exists in partially orchestrated “chunks” in libraries in Waco and possibly New York. We’re not sure what Bondage was about. We also do not know much about a fascinating sideline to his career, in which he bought a farm in New York’s Catskill Mountains and converted it into a summer outdoor resort for Black vacationers. A local history book says only that Bledsoe owned the property from 1923 until his death. But when did he open it as a resort? How involved was he in operations? How popular was it?

The biggest unknown, however, is his inner life: how he felt about his successes and the barriers in his way, how his Waco upbringing influenced his art, whether he was hurt by his misuse in Hollywood. Bledsoe left letters but no diary. His handwriting was abominable, and his newspaper interviews are unilluminating.

“There are articles in a couple of newspapers where he was interviewed, making broad statements about this and that,” Maxile explains. “They’re asking him particular questions, probably trying to get him to say a particular thing.” In one contentious interview, Bledsoe complained that Black pianists were not good enough to accompany him. In another, he suggested that Black life in the United States, for all its hardship, would still be preferable to moving to Europe. Musicians of later generations, like Bud Powell and Kenny Clarke, disagreed.

“The personal stuff, the anecdotal stuff, you really have to dig deep to find it,” Maxile adds. “We do have a number of his letters, but again, that hand is something else.” When he muses about hiring a handwriting expert, he’s only half joking.

What we have are a handful of recordings—“Ol’ Man River,” a classic Viennese operetta aria, several spirituals, and folk songs—and the musical compositions and arrangements Bledsoe left behind. At Baylor, Maxile is working his way through the boxes of Bledsoe material, expecting more discoveries, wondering if the composer could’ve penned a second opera. He hopes to stage a live concert of Bledsoe’s compositions at Baylor in 2022; the concert was supposed to take place last year, but was delayed because of the pandemic (as was a new production of Shirley Graham’s opera Tom Tom).

Maxile’s hope, as he continues to research Bledsoe’s legacy, is to illustrate a forgotten chapter in the history of African American artistry. In his words, “I want to broaden the perspective of what Black artistic excellence was and could be.”

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Family-based cancer clustering occurs more frequently among minority populations, study shows

Increased risk of cancer due to a genetic predisposition in first- and second-degree relatives is long-established but has previously only been studied in white or European populations.

Now, a new study published in eLife is the first to demonstrate that the inherited risk of early-onset cancer is significantly higher among Latino and African American families for solid tumors, and Asian/Pacific Islander families for blood-based cancers, compared to non-Latino white families in California.

Cancer clustering within families, meaning the devastating diagnosis of more than one early-onset cancer within the same family, usually points to a genetic cause. Interestingly, family cancer clustering has only been examined previously at the population level in white, or European origin population studies. In this study, we looked at clustering of cancer cases in young family members in California over the past 30 years within non-white populations and compared it, for the first time, to white populations. We found that family-based cancer clustering occurs more frequently among minority populations.”

Joseph Wiemels, PhD, study author, member of the Cancer Epidemiology Program at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, and professor of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC

Researchers used California population-based health registries to evaluate the relative cancer risk among parents, siblings and children of patients diagnosed with cancer by the age of 26. Between 1989 and 2015, they identified 29,632 early-onset cancer patients and then examined cancer incidence in 62,863 healthy family members. They found that overall, mothers and siblings of those cancer patients had a higher relative risk of early onset cancer. But when they looked at the role of race and ethnicity in genetic predisposition, they found that for patients with solid tumors, the familial cancer risk was significantly higher for Latino and non-Latino Black mothers and siblings compared to non-Latino white families. Asian/Pacific Islanders had a higher familial risk for blood-based cancers compared to non-Latino whites.

This study demonstrates the need for increased scrutiny on familial cancer clustering in minority populations. This information could help health care providers and genetic counselors offer more precision-based care and advice, particularly in the multiethnic populations that reside in Los Angeles County.

Column: Juneteenth’s legal recognition is performative activism

… effort to combat anti-Black racism by learning about our people … t for the benefit of African American people. This was a symbolic … when we comment on the racism that we still see today … result in tangible returns for black Americans, the people in charge choose … RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News

Congressional Tri-Caucus Leaders Call for Biden Administration to Address Medicaid Coverage Gap

A Congressional Tri-Caucus is calling for President Biden to close the Medicaid “coverage gap” in the forthcoming American Families Plan.

The Group Calls for the “Coverage Gap” to be Closed in the American Families Plan

Washington, D.C.-(ENEWSP)- Members of the Congressional Tri-Caucus – composed of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), led more than 60 of their colleagues in a letter to Congressional leadership and President Biden to close the Medicaid “coverage gap” in the forthcoming American Families Plan. The Medicaid coverage gap affects people who are uninsured and ineligible for coverage because they live in states that have not expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act.

“The coverage gap leaves more than two million Americans with incomes below the poverty line completely uninsured, and nearly 60% of people affected are Black, Hispanic, Asian, or Pacific Islander,” said CBC Health Braintrust Chair Rep. Robin Kelly (IL-02). “Closing the coverage gap is a critical step forward in addressing the health inequities so many people are facing in this country.”

“Millions of Americans now have access to live-saving health insurance coverage as a result of Medicaid expansion. However, in the 12 states that have not adopted Medicaid expansion, Medicaid eligibility remains severely limited”, said Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09). “At a time when Americans are still facing growing income insecurity, Medicaid coverage gaps leave too many without an affordable coverage option. This is unacceptable. Let me be very clear, health care is a human right. The American Families Plan must include a closure of the Medicaid coverage gap nationally, full stop. I am proud to stand with my colleagues in penning this letter because we have a once-in-a-generation chance to facilitate transformative action to combat healthcare inequities plaguing many throughout the nation.”

“The CBC is pleased to join forces with our Tri-Caucus colleagues in this effort to help close the Medicaid Coverage gap,” said CBC Chair Rep. Joyce Beatty (OH-03). “For too long, Black Americans have struggled to find adequate healthcare and deal with systemic disparities.  Medicaid provides comprehensive, affordable, quality health insurance, specifically designed for low-income individuals, many of whom we represent, and that is why we’re strongly urging the Biden Administration to ensure that, regardless of state political decisions or immigration status, everyone eligible for Medicaid expansion is finally able to access the protections of Medicaid.”

“The Coronavirus pandemic has exposed the glaring gaps in America’s healthcare system, with communities of color experiencing disproportionate infection and mortality rates from COVID-19,” said CAPAC Chair Judy Chu (CA-27). “With the American Families Plan, we have the opportunity to help close that gap by ensuring that the over 2 million people – 60% of whom are AAPI, Black, or Hispanic – who are eligible for coverage under the Medicaid Expansion have access to affordable healthcare. Ensuring that every American has the ability to take care of their health is more important than ever and an essential part of our recovery. I am proud to be a part of this Tri-Caucus effort to ensure that working families who are above the poverty line – but just barely – are still able to afford quality healthcare.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed long-standing health inequities, which harm public health overall,” said CHC Chair Dr. Raul Ruiz (CA-36). “Closing the Medicaid ‘coverage gap’ is necessary to decrease disparities in coverage rates, affordability of care, and mortality. We must work together to strengthen and expand access to healthcare. I thank my Tri-Caucus colleagues for highlighting the dire need to expand Medicaid coverage.”  

The coverage gap leaves more than two million Americans with incomes below the poverty line uninsured and without any pathway to health coverage. Nearly two million more uninsured people with incomes between 100 and 138 percent of the poverty line would be eligible for healthcare coverage if their states expanded Medicaid.  In addition, 60% of people affected by the coverage gap are Black, Hispanic, Asian, or Pacific Islander.

According to a recent report by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, more than a third of all adults in the coverage gap are women of reproductive age, which could result in women being uninsured during the initial months of pregnancy and contribute to the maternal health crisis. Additionally, much of the affected population lives in the South where state governments have failed to provide basic health coverage for their residents.

The American Families Plan is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring affordable health care to all Americans. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has only illuminated the far-reaching, fatal consequences of inadequate access to health care. Addressing the Medicaid coverage gap is critical in correcting decades of unacceptable and unjust denial of health care coverage to underserved and minority populations throughout the United States and in protecting our nation from future pandemics.

Full text of the letters is available here.

This is news from Congresswoman Robin Kelly’s office.

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