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This Week in Rockland: Newspaper Excerpts: Flashback Friday: Week of June 11

2021-06-11 TWIR Image-Barbara Wesley

June 10, 1871 – 150 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Journal

AROUND HOME [NYACK]
      “Passing” a ball up and down our public streets is popular among those who like to be known as public nuisances.
      The epidemic of strawberry and ice-cream festivals is upon us. The Lord save us from dyspepsia and all similar afflictions!
      Smith Homans, of Englewood, has purchased nine acres of the Tallman mountain south of the Sparkill, for the sum of $10,800.
      The brick business at Haverstraw promises to pan out handsomely this season; brick are now selling at eleven dollars per thousand.
      A mad dog is said to have been killed in town this week. The actions of some of our boys are enough to make a score of dogs mad every day.

EXCURSION TO IONA ISLAND
     The season of pleasure and summer travel is at hand, and thousands are hastening to cool retreats for the summer months, while many thousands more are necessarily enduring more severe duties at home. But all must have occasional relaxation, and the question comes, where can we find it? No more fitting or accessible place is within reach of residents of the lower Hudson, than Iona Island, which has been open for two years, and has already become the most frequented place among the Highlands.
     Increased restaurant and hotel accommodations will make the Island doubly attractive this season, while the enlarged and greatly improved grounds, together with games, boats, &c., will make time pass pleasantly to all. Many private parties are making Iona Island in their tour.

June 10, 1921 – 100 YEARS AGO
Rockland News

12-YEAR-OLD GIRL WINS COUNY SPELLING BEE
     Twelve-year-old Muriel Davies of the Haverstraw public school won the county spelling contest held at Nanuet last Friday. She is an English girl and has been in this country less than two years.
     By winning the county contest she will be given the privilege of spending a week at the State fair in Syracuse in September, her expenses—both her fare and her hotel bills—will be paid, and she will be expected to take part in another contest with sixty-one children, one from each of the other counties in the State.

MISS ADELAIDE ROSS
     Miss Adelaide H. Ross, of South Nyack, was graduated Wednesday from Cornell College of Medicine. She was graduated from Horace Mann School in 1912 and received her A.B. at Wellesley in 1916.  Beginning July 1 she will spend a year as interne in Bellevue Hospital and the following year she will go to London.

June 9, 1971 – 50 YEARS AGO
Rockland Independent/Leader

BLACK ART FESTIVAL — RIGHT ON! SAID BROTHERS AND SISTERS TO BEAT OF BONGOS
[Image: Barbara Wesley sings “Lift Every Voice and Sing” the black national anthem. Rockland Independent/Leader, 1971. Photo by Sheldon Heitner.]
     Bongos whimpered a soft rhythm of even, steady beats as the audience clapped in unison to the all-pervading sound of drums.
     Louder and louder the drums beat, ending in a frenzied torrent of cheers, shouts of “Right on!” and frantic hand waving.
     A small figure parted the curtain of the stage and proclaimed: “Welcome to Black Arts ’71.” The show had begun.
     Black Arts ’71 was the Friday night production of the Black Student Union of Spring Valley High School. It included a sale of authentic African and black American jewelry, an exhibit of paintings by black students, a buffet of soul food, and a fashion show of African clothes made by the students under the supervision of Mrs. Bernard Charles.
     But the main feature of the night was poetry recitations by students: The readings were selected to instill a feeling of pride in black students and adults and to make white students and adults think twice about the plight of blacks in America.
     “We wanted to get a point across,” said Valerie Frazier, chairman of the event.
     And get a point across, they did. Black Liberation colors, black, red, and green, were displayed in crepe paper lining the stage of the auditorium and on pins and jewelry offered for sale.
     “The red stands for blood, toil, and suffering of our people. The black for black people everywhere and our unity; and the green for our land and Africa,” Valerie explained.
     In addition to the liberation colors, pride in their race was demonstrated by the black students in their rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the black national anthem.
     As Barbara Wesley, teacher at Spring Valley, approached the microphone, the entire audience stood and joined her singing the anthem, written by James Weldon Johnson in the 1930s.
     After the song, recitations began. The stage was dark. As each student spoke, a single spotlight lit his face. After each reading, most of which were taken from “The Me Nobody Knows” and “Pearly,” wild clapping and cheers of “Right on brother!” and “Pay attention, whitey!” filled the room. But quiet was restored as bongo drums began their soothing beat in a concert of African music.
     The festival ended with a general dance, for students, with music provided by a band of the high school students.
     Proceeds from the festival, totaling more than $600, will be put into a scholarship fund for black students wishing to attend college or a vocational school.
     The financially successful venture may or may not be held again next year.
     “We’re not yet sure whether we’ll have it again,” Valerie said. “Maybe, if we can get the same people we will. It was a success, I think everyone there enjoyed it and, most important, learned something about the black race.”
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This Week in Rockland (#FBF Flashback Friday) is prepared by Clare Sheridan on behalf of the Historical Society of Rockland County. To learn about the HSRC’s mission, upcoming events or programs, visitwww.RocklandHistory.org or call (845) 634-9629.


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