Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #8

Couple: Ferdinand Barnett and Ida B. Wells

Date of Wedding:  June 27, 1895

Place: Bethel AME Church, Chicago, IL

Fun facts

The couple's wedding announcement appeared on page 1 of the New York Times.

The bride canceled the wedding three times because of her antilynching speaking schedule.

The bride wore a white satin trained gown trimmed with orange blossoms.

So many family members, friends, and fans flocked to the church for the wedding that the bridal party had trouble reaching the church door.

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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #7

Couple: Medgar Evers and Myrlie Beasley

Date of Wedding:  December 24, 1951

Place: Mount Heroden Baptist Church, Vicksburg, MS

Fun facts

The couple met at Alcorn A&M College where they were both students.

The couple had a major argument the night before their wedding.

The Evers' honeymoon consisted of one night in a segregated hotel in Jackson, Mississippi, and then visits with both sets of in-laws.

*A white supremacist murdered Medgar Evers in 1963.


Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #6

Couple: Glynn Turman and Aretha Franklin

Date of Wedding:   April 11, 1978

Place: New Bethel Baptist Church, Detroit, Michigan

Officiant: Rev. Clarence L. Franklin (father of the bride)

Fun facts

The bride wore a silk gown (with an eight-foot train) trimmed in fur.

The wedding party consisted of a dozen attendants.

The Four Tops sang "Isn't She Lovely" and a full choir sang hymns.

The couple had a wedding reception at the Beverly-Hilton in Los Angeles a few days after the wedding.  The reception was originally scheduled to be outside at the bride's home but rain necessitated a change of plans.

*The couple divorced in 1984.



Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #5

Couple: Courtney B. Vance and Angela Bassett

Date of Wedding: October 12, 1997

Place: private residence in Los Angeles, California

Fun facts

The couple met while both pursued graduate study at the Yale School of Drama in the 1980s, but they did not start dating until years later.

The bride wore a silk fitted gown with a 4-foot French lace train by Escada.

There were 3 bridesmaids and 3 groomsmen.

The couple delayed their honeymoon because they were both filming movies at the time of the wedding.



Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #4

Couple: Colin Powell and Alma Johnson

Date of Wedding: August 25, 1962

Place: First Congregational Church, Birmingham, Alabama

Officiant:  Rev. J Clyde Perry

Fun facts

The couple met on a blind date in 1961.

The couple had two wedding receptions.

Mr. and Mrs. Powell spent their honeymoon at the historic AG Gaston Motel in Birmingham.  For more information on this motel’s connection to the civil rights movement, see Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins and Elizabeth Gardner Hines.


Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #3

Couple: Countee Cullen and Yolande Du Bois

Date of Wedding: April 9, 1928

Place: Salem Methodist Episcopal Church (Harlem)

Officiants:  Rev. Frederick A. Cullen and Rev. George Frazier Miller

Fun facts:

The bride was the daughter of W.E.B Du Bois.

1,200 people were invited to the wedding ceremony but 3,000 attended.

The bride had 16 bridesmaids and two soloists (pictured below) and the groom had 9 groomsmen including Langston Hughes.

Gilded cages containing canary birds hung from the balcony rails of the church.

*The couple divorced after two years of marriage. 




Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #2

Couple: Martin L. Harvey and Emma Clarie Collins

Date of Wedding: August 1, 1943

Place: Central Methodist Church, Jackson, MS

Officiant:  Rev. A.L. Holland

Fun facts:

The couple’s romance began in Berlin, Germany, in 1939.

The wedding was profiled in three different black newspapers.

The bride had a cathedral train and the groom and his groomsmen wore white dinner jackets with black tuxedo trousers.

Clarie Collins Harvey was a funeral home owner who used her business to further civil rights.  See “DIGNITY IN LIFE AND DEATH: UNDERTAKER CLARIE COLLINS HARVEY AND BLACK WOMEN’S ENTREPRENEURIAL ACTIVISM,” JOURNAL OF MISSISSIPPI HISTORY LXXVI (FALL/WINTER 2014): 111-127.


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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #1

I love LOVE, weddings, and Black history.  I have decided to combine my interests into blog posts about black weddings.  I plan to profile the weddings of well-known and not-so-well known African Americans.  Since April 15 is Jackie Robinson Day, it is fitting to begin this series with the wedding of Jackie Robinson and Rachel Isum

Date of Wedding: February 10, 1946 (year before Jackie desegregates major league baseball)

Place: Independent Church of Christ in Los Angeles, CA

Officiant:  Rev. Carl Downs, Dean of Sam Huston College (HBCU in TX); the church’s pastor was in Washington, D.C. at the time fighting for fair employment practices.

Fun facts:

According to the Chicago Defender, Mrs. Rachel Robinson graduated at the head of her UCLA class and studied nursing.

The wedding party consisted of eight attendants.

Mrs. Robinson wore a gown of ivory satin with a three-tiered bridal veil. 




Sanders's Scholarship on Beach Segregation Featured in New Documentary

In 2015, Crystal Sanders published an article titled "Blue Water, Black Beach: The North Carolina Teachers Association and Hammocks Beach in the Age of Jim Crow," in the North Carolina Historical Review about African American efforts to resist beach segregation in North Carolina .  UNC-TV made a documentary based on her work that premiered on February 15, 2018.  The film will be shown several more times on UNC-TV and the NC Channel throughout the months of February and March.  Those interested can watch the film here:  http://www.pbs.org/video/the-hammocks-3ldetl/

Sanders Featured in New HBCU Documentary

Crystal R. Sanders is featured in and served as a consultant for filmmaker Stanley Nelson's new documentary "Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities," which will air nationwide on PBS on February 19, 2018 at 9 pm EST.  The film explores the pivotal role that HBCUs and their alumni have played in shaping the United States and world.  Sanders has a forthcoming scholarly article on Dr. Willa Player, the president of Bennett College from 1955 until 1966.


An Open Letter To Beyonce


Dear Beyoncé,

We are thrilled to learn that you have launched the Formation Scholars Program to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Lemonade. The album is a beautiful exploration of the hopes, dreams, pain, and survival of black women. The scholarship program is a fitting tribute to black womanhood and recognizes black women as intellectual thinkers, scholars, and creators.

As African American women’s historians, we write to ask that you consider including Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, as one of the participating schools in the Formation Scholars Program. Bennett is one of only two historically black women’s colleges in the United States. Founded in 1873 as a coeducational institution, Bennett has made the broadening of perspectives and development of leadership skills of black women its focus since 1926.

Bennett College women have been in formation for nearly a century. In 1937, black women at Bennett organized a boycott of discriminatory movie theaters in North Carolina. It was women at Bennett who laid the groundwork for the 1960 student sit-in movement that revolutionized the South. These young women put their educations and bodies on the line and challenged segregation in public accommodations. At one point during the spring of 1963, more than 40 percent of Bennett’s student body sat in jail after participating in civil rights demonstrations. While most HBCU administrations punished students for participating in such political work, Bennett’s then President, Dr. Willa B. Player, supported her students’ activism, taking their assignments to them in jail and refusing to force them to return to campus on bail.

Bennett women make a difference. Dr. Player was the country’s first black woman college president with an earned Ph.D. Under her tenure, Martin Luther King, Jr. found a safe space to teach and lecture at Bennett when other schools and churches rebuffed him out of fear of racist attacks. Among the alumnae who graduated prepared to meet the challenges of their communities and our nation are Carolyn Robertson Payton, the first woman and first African American to serve as Director of the Peace Corps, and Dorothy L. Brown, the first black woman surgeon in the southern United States and the first black woman to serve in the Tennessee State Legislature.

More recently Bennett alumna Evette Dionne was named senior editor at Bitch Media and alumna Delrisha White successfully solicited a $45,000 gift to Silicon Valley Children’s Fund to support children in the foster care system. Countless other Bennett women have won prestigious awards and fellowships, attended Ivy League and top ranked graduate programs, were elected to political offices, and serve as academic experts in a variety of fields of study. These are but a few of the accomplishments of Bennett alumnae.

Despite all of the remarkable things Bennett women have accomplished and despite the institution’s legacy as a stellar institution full of committed faculty and staff, Bennett is struggling financially. This year we organized a fundraising campaign to support the institution because all of us wholeheartedly believe in its mission. This and other fundraising efforts have successfully solicited donations, but Bennett needs more.

Including Bennett in your Formation Scholars Program would enable a Bennett woman to continue to attend Bennett without financial strain and would help raise the profile of the College so that more donations could be successfully solicited. Finally, and we ask only because we sincerely believe that Bennett is a special place where Black women can be educated in a society that generally does not value their existence, would you consider giving more? Like your album Lemonade, Bennett College is an oasis for Black women. It is a space where their creativity, their feminism, their political awareness, their intellectual ambitions, and so much more come to be nurtured and grow.

With All Our Sincere Respect and Love for Bennett College,

Crystal R. Sanders, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of History and African American Studies Pennsylvania State University

Martha Jones, Ph.D.

Presidential Bicentennial Professor
Professor of History and Afroamerican and African Studies and Co-director, Michigan Law Program in Race, Law & History University of Michigan

Deirdre Cooper Owens, Ph.D.

Bennett College ‘94
Assistant Professor of History Queens College, CUNY

Jennifer Ash, Ph.D. Candidate

Department of History, University of Illinois at Chicago and Former Instructor of History, Bennett College

Phyllis Worthy Dawkins, Ph.D.

Interim President Bennett College

#BlessBennettBey #hotsauce #FormationScholars