Friday, January 22, 2016

The "We Is a Family" Album: Richardson News Features

Here are some of the selected news features of my core and immediate Richardson family over the years from my Wall of Frames honoring the legacy of my grandparents, Joe Richardson and Emma Lou Jenkins Richardson. This includes the debutante news features of women in my family from over the years, along with those related to some of our federated and civic club activities, Catholic school and Catholic retreat activities, professional activities, and public and civic events, etc. The earliest and perhaps most interesting historical item here is the wedding announcement from the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper in 1938 in which my grandparents are included because they were somehow mistaken for white. It was a blessing to find their marriage license on Easter Sunday in 2015 and to lift up the document to discover this very small clipping taped underneath. I will also be sure to add additional May Day news features from the 1960s once I find them, including one highlighting my uncle Joseph Richardson as May Day King in 1963 at Booker T. Washington Elementary School, along with a news feature of myself as a child pictured in the Montgomery Advertiser with my grandmother's Aunt Viney Russell, who lived to be 109, at one of her birthday parties that were celebrated annually by the television and newspaper media in Montgomery. (I will do a separate post at some point featuring some of the news articles related to Aunt Viney and some of the other members of our extended family). The character 'Tildy from Roots, Chicken George's wife, sums up in the post-Emancipation moment the place in the heart that family holds for us and for so many, and that we even love to hear and say now and then because of the beauty in the meaning: "We is a family, and we is going to stay, a family." All glory to the Lord for who He is and for what He provides.

My dear grandparents, Joe Richardson and Emma Lou Jenkins Richardson, married on October 3, 1938, which was also the birthday of my grandfather’s mother Nancy. My grandparents were together for 47 years until we lost my grandfather in 1985, and my grandmother was here for her 75th anniversary. Giving praises and thanks for the remarkable lives that they lived and for their legacy and sending them my love and wishing blessings upon them in heaven. This past Easter, coming across their 1938 marriage certificate felt like a special gift from heaven. My mother recognized the signature of my grandfather’s brother, her beloved Uncle Murray, on the document as one of the witnesses. Taped and hidden away underneath this document was a very small newspaper clipping mentioning “Joe Richardson” and “Emma Lou Jenkins” as one of the 5 “white couples” who had applied for marriage licenses in recent days. This case of mistaken racial identity is absolutely the only way that this information about my grandparents’ marriage made it into the paper, for the Montgomery Advertiser typically relegated black news to the “colored pages” during that time. My grandparents were somehow grouped with all of the “white couples” by mistake. Interestingly, in the wake of the loss of her first husband, my grandmother’s mother Ada was also listed as “white” in the 1910 census, along with her son, my grandmother’s oldest brother later known as “Jack,” though that was not his name back then; this likely happened because of her light skin color, long black curly hair and their light gray eyes. A decade later, in the 1920 census, she and her children with her husband Frank Jenkins, including my grandmother Emma, are all listed as “mulattos.”
"Marriage Licenses." Montgomery Advertiser. October, 1938.
My mother Joanne Richardson's photo as a baby in a local Montgomery magazine; she is being held here by a white woman in the Junior League visiting as a volunteer when she was sick and in the hospital, likely at St. Jude Hospital. My grandmother, a phenomenal archivist, kept her copy of the magazine among her treasures. Who thinks of possibilities like this when they imagine blacks in Montgomery during the 1950s?
My aunt Pamela Richardson featured in the Montgomery Advertiser as the May Day Queen at Booker T. Washington Elementary school in May of 1970. "'Gala Day Festivities Held at Washington Elementary." Montgomery Advertiser. May, 1970.

Debutante news article in the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper on April, 1976 featuring my aunt, Pamela Richardson. This is the second part of the feature, which unfolded over two weeks, and was published on April 15 and April 22. This is the feature from April 22. "Phi Delta Kappa Debutantes." Montgomery Advertiser. April 22, 1976.
Riché Richardson featured in the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper with fellow debutantes in April, 1989. Chrys Robbins. “Sorority Presents its 19th Annual Debutante Cotillion.” Montgomery Advertiser. April 9, 1989.
A feature that includes an interview with Riché Richardson in the October, 1993 issue of Essence Magazine. Natasha Tarpley. "Voices from the College Front." Essence. October, 1993.
A feature from the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper in the 1990s that includes my cousin Keri Smith (seated third from left) as an elementary student at Resurrection Catholic School with a Nigerian sister. Ron Ellis. "Nigerian Nuns Happy to Help in Montgomery." Montgomery Advertiser. March 13, 1999.
Mother's Day feature from the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper in the early 2000s that highlighted my grandmother Emma Lou Jenkins Richardson's (and Joe Richardson's) recipe for Italian spaghetti.
Feature in the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper highlighting my mother Joanne Richardson's (seated left) work as historian in the Montgomery City Federation of women's clubs. "Club Profiles." Montgomery Advertiser. January 31, 2000.
An early 2000s feature of my aunt, then Pamela Richardson-Smith (standing right), in relation to a community project of the Cosmopolites, her federated club. Deborah Moore. "Federated Club Makes New Year's Presentation." Montgomery Advertiser. January 8, 2004.
My Cousin Keri Smith and her escort featured in the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper in a close-up of the dance during the minuet in April, 2004. Deborah Hayes Moore. "40 Debutantes, Kudos, Presented at Cotillion." Montgomery Advertiser. April, 2004
My cousin Keri Smith, attending a Catholic retreat as a college sophomore, where she performed as a liturgical dancer. She is pictured here on the cover of the regional newsletter that addressed the impact of Hurricane Katrina. In A Word: A Publication of the Society of the Divine Word. Southern Province. 7(Volume 23). November, 2005.
My cousin Megan Smith featured as a debutante in the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper in April, 2006. Deborah Hayes Moore. "Phi Delta Kappa Presents Debutantes, Kudos." Montgomery Advertiser. April 16, 2006.
A 2007 feature of Riché Richardson as artist and scholar in the Davis Enterprise. Beth Curda. “Professor Pays Tribute to Her Southern Roots.” Davis Enterprise. February 28, 2007.
Riché Richardson as the pick to feature in Paris on Inauguration Day, 2009 in the ParisDailyPhoto. Eric Lieu. “Quilt, Always.” ParisDailyPhoto. January 20, 2009.
Riché Richardson featured as an artist in the Cornell Chronicle. Daniel Aloi. "Artist Shares Her Cultural Quilts with Parisians." Cornell Chronicle. January 23, 2009.
Riché Richardson featured in Ezra magazine, Cornell University. Summer 2009. Daniel Aloi. "Riché Richardson Shares Her Art Quilts and American Perspective as a Cultural Envoy in Paris." Ezra. Summer, 2009.
My cousin Megan Smith's former work as production assistant at a business magazine. Amazingly, when I was a little girl, my mother Joanne Richardson also worked in publishing at a business magazine called Business Review Edition in Executive Park in Montgomery during the mid-70s when she was in her 20s.
Riché Richardson featured in the Montgomery Advertiser as a participant, along with Montgomery postmaster Donald Snipes and Rosa Parks Museum Director Georgette Norman in the historic unveiling of a U.S. postage stamp honoring Rosa Parks's 100th birthday, taken during the gala celebration in Montgomery. Associated Press. "Postal Service Unveils Stamp Honoring Rosa Parks." Montgomery Advertiser. February 5, 2013.
Riché Richardson featured in the Ithaca Times in tandem with talk honoring Rosa Parks's 100th birthday. Rob Montana. “Cornell Professor Speaking about Rosa Parks Legacy at Cornell, National Museum.” Ithaca Times. February 6, 2013.
My aunt Pamela R. Garrett (standing far right), a current member and former president, featured in the full-page feature on the Cosmopolites Civic Club in the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper in honor of the organization's 75th anniversary. Deborah Hayes Moore. "75 Years and Counting: Cosmopolites Civic Club Celebrates 75 years in Montgomery and Counting." Montgomery Advertiser. June 15, 2014.
A view of the Debutante Triple-Quilt Installation that reproduces my aunt Pamela Richardson's 1976 debutante cotillion and features her, along with my grandparents, Joe Richardson and Emma Richardson. Rebecca Burylo. “Quilt Artist Honors Civil Rights, Southern Roots.” Montgomery Advertiser. January 11, 2015.
Riché Richardson. “Can We Please, Finally, Get Rid of ‘Aunt Jemima’?” “Room for Debate.” New York Times. June 24, 2015
Various views of the "Wall of Frames" dedicated to my family in my home office. Framed copies of all the newspaper features of the women in my family as debutantes across generations are on display above my desk and complement the debutante photos of women in my family and other photos of us that I keep on the vanity in my bedroom. Various other news features are in the section to the right.

Vintage family photos and various others that have in some cases inspired my art quilts are included on my artist website at!vintage-family-photos/efizr