November 3, 1945 p. 26
THIS COLUMN MORE OFTEN than not has devoted itself to squawks about this or that in the theatre and while there is much to squawk about, there are certainly many things which are happening to us that are positive and are moving us in the right direction, and for which some praise is due. We may or may not realize it, but the new and young blood which has been infiltrating the world of the theatre is bringing with [...] an educational background, academic and specialized, which is going to do much in the long run to bring about a respected place in the theatre for the Negro as a group rather than for one or two individuals.
In the years gone by, precious few of those going into show-business were equipped with a college education or training in the arts. This was due in part to the hesitancy on the part of those with academic training to become affiliated with the world of entertainment. Show-business was not considered an honorable profession. And so those with training shunned it and those of us with latent talent, very little formal education, and certainly no social standing (in the accepted sense), embraced it.
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TODAY, THINGS ARE DIFFERENT. The bulk of our younger players in most cases are college graduates and none have less than a high school education. With this knowledge these youngsters should, after they get over the first flush of success, he able to help eradicate some of the exploitation which is going on in the business. That is, of course, if they have the happy combination of common intelligence, formal education and guts. A contract to them will mean more than an opportunity to be seen over the footlights. They will know they must negotiate certain riders and clauses which further their careers rather than depend on oral promises made them by exploiting managers and producers. And too, they are aware that the political life of the country and their community has a direct bearing on their lives as a whole..
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IN THE PAST FEW YEARS we have had evidence of what can be expected from the new-comers [sic]. Take Katherine Dunham who came by way of the dance concert stage. Katherine, in her few years in the theatre, has accomplished a great deal and this is due largely to the fact that she came equipped. She is a graduate of Chicago University--majored in anthropology--and because of her qualifications, received a fellowship which enabled her to study further.
Then there is the master musician and director, Dean Dixon, whose academic training made possible the score of scholarships he has received in order that he might develop his exceptional talent. It is not news that he has served as guest conductor for the NY Philharmonic Symphony and teaches music at Columbia University.
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TO NAME A FEW OF the late comers who are active in the business, they are: Gordon Heath, "Deep Are The Roots"--Hampton University; Everett Lee, conductor of orchestra for "On The Town"--Cleveland Institute of Music; Hilda Simms, "Anna Lucasta"--Hampton Institute; Fred O'Neal, "Lucasta"-- New Theatre School; Valeria Black, "Lucasta"--Hunter College; Pearl Primmus, also Hunter; Dorothy Carter, "Strange Fruit"--Smith College; Muriel Smith, "Carmen Jones"--Curtis Institute of Music; and George Oliver, "Fruit"--a Chicago College.
The list could go on indefinitely, for in almost every case, there is a diploma or scholarship of some kind. But those named will give a general idea of the progress which has been made in the personal lives of the Negro citizen and carried over into the theatre.
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NEVER BEFORE HAVE we in the theatre been so well-equipped to do a good job for representing the Negro to the best advantage.
An outstanding example of what can be done by the many is what has been done by an individual, Paul Robeson. Paul has been able to accomplish so much in our behalf because he was equipped with a fine mind, a Columbia sheepskin, an awareness of the problems of minorities and their dependence on the political life of our country, a God-given talent, and, above all, dignity and self-respect which in turn have demanded respect for himself and his people.
The future looks bright in the theatre and for those new-comers [sic] who have brought so much to the footlights, we wish luck and charge them with the responsibility of applying their knowledge in and out of the theatre.