Monthly Archives: August 2011


John Cole, Scranton, PA. The Times.

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Much has been written of the daring and patriotic exploits of Black American men who have served in World War II.

But, less known are the stories of Black American military women of WW II who joined in the fight to “make the world safe for democracy”. Here are just a few of the stories of these women whose valor, whose loyalty to their country, and whose courage under fire showed forth their patriotism.


Not known to many people in the history of WWII are the Black women who served in the military. Yes, they did not fight on the battle lines as the men did, but, they still made a major impact in their dedicated service in WWI II. Black American women also fought to serve in the war effort as nurses. Despite early protests that black nurses treating white soldiers would not be appropriate, the War Department relented, and the first group of Black American nurses in the Army Nurse Corps arrived in England in 1944.

Not well known is the important efforts of the famous 6888TH Central Postal Battalion:

-6888TH (aka the “Six Triple Eight”) Central Postal Battalion:


148. “The first Negro WACs to arrive [on] the continent of Europe were 800 girls of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Bn, who had also been the first to arrive in England. After the battalion had set up its facilities at Rouen, France, it held an `open house’, which was attended by hundreds of Negro soldiers. Pvt. Ruth L. James,…of the battalion area is on duty at the gate.” May 26, 1945.Pfc. Stedman. 111-SC-23707. (african_americans_wwii_148.jpg)

Lt.(jg.) Harriet Ida Pickens and Ens. Frances Wills, the first African-American Waves to be commissioned. December 21, 1944

147. “Capt. Della H. Raney, Army Nurse Corps, who now heads the nursing staff at the station hospital at Camp Beale, CA, has the distinction of being the first Negro nurse to report to yuty in the present war…” April 11, 1945. 208-PU-161K-1. (african_americans_wwii_147.jpg)

145. “Auxiliaries Ruth Wade and Lucille Mayo (left to right) further demonstrate their ability to service trucks as taught them during the processing period at Fort Des Moines and put into practice at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.” December 8, 1942. Oster. 111-SC-16246. (african_americans_wwii_145.jpg)

152. “Lt. Florie E. Gant…tends a patient at a prisoner-of war hospital somewhere in England.” October 7, 1944. 112-SGA-Nurses-44-1676. (african_americans_wwii_152.jpg)

158. “Cmdr. Thomas A. Gaylord, USN (Ret’d), administers oath to five new Navy nurses commissioned in New York…” Phyllis Mae Dailey, the Navy’s first African-American nurse, is second from the right. March 8, 1945. 80-G-4836. (african_americans_wwii_158.jpg)

There were also Black women pilots as well. Many of you may know of the valiant courage under fire that was exemplified by the Black men of the Tuskegee Airmen fame, but, how many of you know of Ms. Janet Harmon Waterford Bragg? She was one of the few Black women pilots who became a pilot through the Tuskegee Airmen pilot program.

In addition to being denied entrance into the WASPS, where one White woman (Vice President of the Ninety-Nines) stated that she “did not know what to do with a Black woman”, Ms. Bragg was also denied her licence by the first examiner because as he put it, he had never given a Black woman a licence to fly, and he was not going to start doing it then. Ms. Bragg later went on to receive her licence from another instructor.

Janet Harmon Waterford Bragg
I’m not afraid of tomorrow because I’ve seen yesterday, and today is beautiful.” – Janet Bragg (1991) In 1939, when the National Airmen’s Association of America was formed, two women were among the founding members, both determined young African- Americans eager to learn and enter the still evolving world of aviation. One was Willa Brown, the other Janet Bragg. Born Janet Harmon in Griffin, Georgia on March 24, 1907, she gained her interest in aviation while still in her formative years. “As a child I always wanted to fly . . . I used to watch the birds – – how they would take off and land,” she said in an interview with the Arizona Historical Society in 1989. One day in 1933 in Chicago, she saw a billboard across the street with a drawing of a bird building a nest with chicks inside. The caption on the billboard read: “Birds learn to fly. Why can’t you” That day she knew where her future lay. A registered nurse who received her degree and training from Spellman College and MacBicar Hospital, both Black institutions respectively, Bragg enrolled at Curtis Wright School of Aeronautics in 1933. Despite constant harassment by fellow students, she completed her course work and helped build an airport and hangar in Robbins, Illinois. She bought the hangar’s first plane.

Like many African Americans during a time of rigid segregation, Bragg continued to meet opposition in her pursuit of a career in commercial and military aviation. She was denied entry into the Women’s Auxiliary Service Pilots (WASPs), being told by Ethel Sheehy, then vice president of the ’99s and Women’s Flying Training Detachment executive officer, that she didn’t know what to do with a Black woman. Undaunted, she flew to Tuskegee, .Alabama to train with Charles Alfred “Chief” Anderson and his instructors in the civilian program so that she could be given an exam for her commercial pilot’s license. However, the white examiner denied her this right after she landed from her trial flight. He exclaimed to Anderson that, “Well, I tell you Chief, she gave me a ride I’ll put up with any of your flight instructors. I’ve never given a colored girl a commercial pilot’s license, I don’t intend to now-.” The same year (1942), however, she was awarded her license by another examiner after 30-40 minutes of flight.

Bragg continued to fly as a hobby and encouraged others to pursue careers in aviation, even after being denied entry into the military nurse corps because the quota for Black nurses was filled. She wrote a weekly column ( 1930s), for the Chicago Defender entitled “Negro in Aviation”, reporting on the exploits of Col. John Robinson, a Black American aviator in charge of the Imperial Ethiopian Air Forces in Addis Ababa under Emperor Haile Selassie. Bragg was a founding and charter member of the Challenger Air Pilots’ Association (1931), a national organization of Black American aviators, inspired by the legacy of Bessie Coleman. Bragg, along with Willa Brown, Cornelius Coffey and Dale White, established an annual memorial flight over Bessie Coleman’s grave in 1935, a tradition that continued for many years.

Janet Harmon Waterford Bragg retired from flying in 1965 and retired as a nurse seven years later. A resident of Tucson, Arizona for several years, she died in Chicago in April of 1993. Aviation buffs, students and historians may want to visit the Pima Air Museum for a visual display of her life or read a copy of an interview conducted by the Arizona Historical Society, both located in Phoenix, Arizona. In addition, an autobiography on her life is being written through the Smithsonian Institute Press.

Even more left out of the picture, are the thousands of Black women “Rosie the Riveter” workers back home in America doing their part to help the war effort along. The White face of Rosie the Riveter is well-known, but, as seen here, the Rosies came in many racial groups.

But, there were many Black women who helped in the production of armaments for the war. Many Black women left the menial life of domestic servitude to earn better salaries, provide for their families, and help the men fighting overseas in Europe, North Africa and Asia.

File:Rosie the Riveter (Vultee) DS.jpg
A real-life “Rosie the Riveter” operating a hand drill at Vultee-Nashville, TN, working on an A-31 Vengeance dive bomber, February, 1943. (Author: Alfred T. Palmer, U.S. Office of War Information).
Juanita E. Gray, a former domestic worker, learns to operate a lathe at the War Production and Training Center in Washington, D.C. She was one of hundreds of African-American women trained at the center.
Welders Alivia Scott, Hattie Carpenter, and Flossie Burtos are about to weld their first piece of steel on the ship SS George Washington Carver at Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, California. 1943

Women workers at quartermaster depot. The tradition of Betsy Ross is being kept alive in this quatermaster corps depot where this young woman worker assists in the creation of American flags for military activitities. Philadelphia Quartermaster Corps

Women workers at quartermaster depot. The tradition of Betsy Ross is being kept alive in this quatermaster corps depot where this young woman worker assists in the creation of American flags for military activitities. Philadelphia Quartermaster Corps. (SOURCE)

New Britain, Connecticut. Women welders at the Landers, Frary, and Clark plant. (SOURCE)

D-Day. V-E Day. V-J Day. Battle of the Bulge. Pacific Theater.

So many battles that still wear a whiteface.

The dedication that many Black American women showed during WWII is exemplary.

That they fought two enemies—–overseas, and back in America—-is a true testament to their courage and bravery.

Patriotism has no color.







Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II — Home

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– Paperback (Nov. 25, 1999) by MAUREEN HONEY
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No Time for Fear: Voices of American Military Nurses in World War II by  Diane Burke Fessler(May 31, 1997   (6)


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Emmett Till.

This past July 25, would have been the 70th birthday of Emmett Louis “Bobo” Till. His young and innocent life was savagely taken from him by J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, two racist murderers who were set free by an all-White, all-male jury in Sumner, Mississippi in 1955.

This year marks the 56th anniversary of the death of Emmett.

obama and civil rights emmett till

Emmett’s death mobilized the Civil Rights Movement, galvanized a people who had more than had enough of the dehumanizing reign of Jane Crow segregation, as well as revealed to the world the brutality of America’s mistreatment of her Black citizens.

Emmett Louis Till.

Rest in peace, Emmett.

Rest in peace.

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By Valerie J. Nelson, Los Angeles Times

August 28, 2011

As Motown and its Detroit headquarters turned into a pop-soul powerhouse, she served as a company executive who guided a young Stevie Wonder and managed the careers of such era-defining artists as Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and the Supremes.

A curator of the 'Motown Sound'Esther Gordy Edwards is photographed in 1988 inside Motown Records’ original offices in Detroit, once known as Hitsville USA. It’s now the Motown Historical Museum and is full of the artificts she had collected over the years. (Steven R. Nickerson, AP / August 28, 2011)
When Berry Gordy Jr. wanted to borrow $800 from his family to found Motown Recordsin 1959, he knew that the most formidable resistance would come from his oldest sister, Esther.”You’re 29 years old and what have you done with your life?” his sister snapped as the pair squabbled over his request, her brother later recalled. Edwards assented, but only after Gordy signed a contract pledging future royalties as security.

As Motown and its Detroit headquarters turned into a pop-soul powerhouse, Esther Gordy Edwards served as a company executive who guided a young Stevie Wonder and managed the careers of such era-defining artists as Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and the Supremes.

Yet Edwards made her most enduring mark after the company moved to Los Angeles in 1972. She stayed behind and in 1985 turned the original offices known as Hitsville USA into the Motown Historical Museum. Then she packed it with the artifacts she had pointedly saved along the way.

Edwards died Wednesday in Detroit of natural causes, the museum announced. She was 91.

“Whatever she did, it was with the highest standards,” her brother said in a statement. “She preserved Motown memorabilia before it was memorabilia, collecting our history long before we knew we were making it.”

Wonder said he was “taken back by the loss” of Edwards, whom he regarded as “another mother.”

When Wonder came to Motown as a boy, Edwards helped him manage his money, arranged for tutors and enrolled him at the Michigan School of the Blind.

“She believed in me — when I was 14 years old,” Wonder said in a statement. “She championed me being in Motown. I shared with her many of my songs first before anyone else.”

Edwards played a key role managing young acts in the 1960s. Eventually she rose to vice president and directed Motown’s international operations.

“Poor kids from broken homes would rush here after school and hang out all night,” Edwards said of Hitsville in a 1989 Times article. “Between 1959 and 1972, this little house was like home for a lot of kids. Without Motown, most of the talent discovered in this building would have been overlooked by society.”

Edwards was “born bossy,” her brother once said, on April 25, 1920, in Oconee, Ga. She was one of eight children of Berry and Bertha Gordy and as a toddler moved to Detroit with her family.

Esther attended both Howard University in Washington, D.C., and Wayne State University in Detroit.

She married in the early 1940s and had a son before divorcing.

In 1951, she married George H. Edwards, who went on to serve in the Michigan Legislature. He died in 1980.

She had helped set up the Gordy family savings club as a source of financing for business ventures when her brother sought the loan that led to the “Motown Sound.”

Inside Motown, the 4-foot-10 Edwards was called a “pack rat,” teased for squirreling away everything she could — concert posters, fliers, stage costumes and other would-be collectibles — during her 30 years with the company.

“We used to laugh at Mrs. Edwards because everywhere we went on those tours, she saved everything. She saved all the pictures, all the placards,” Robinson told the Detroit Free Press in 2005. “But what a wonderful thing she did. Because of her we have that museum, we have that place where people can go and see that history.”

More than 40,000 people visit each year, according to the museum. Exhibits have included girl-group gowns, record covers, Michael Jackson’s sequined glove and the upstairs quarters where Berry once lived.

The need for such a museum dawned on Edwards over time as tourists dropped by the offices she kept at Hitsville after the company had moved west.

Once about 50 men sporting white sailor uniforms and British accents showed up, explaining that they had rented vans to drive the 60 miles to Motown after their ship had docked in Toledo, Ohio, she told Smithsonian magazine in 1994.

“That was the turning point,” Edwards said. “I thought, ‘Well, gosh, maybe we did make history here.'”

In addition to her brother, Berry, Edwards is survived by her son, Robert Berry Bullock; stepson Harry T. Edwards; two other siblings, Anna Gordy Gaye and Robert L. Gordy; three granddaughters; and six great-grandchildren.



Richard Termine for The New York Times

Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson performing in 2006 at the Regency Hotel in Manhattan.


Published: August 22, 2011

Nick Ashford, who with Valerie Simpson, his songwriting partner and later wife, wrote some of Motown’s biggest hits, like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough“ and “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” and later recorded their own hits and toured as a duo, died Monday at a hospital in New York City. He was 70 and lived in Manhattan.

Mr. Ashford had throat cancer and was undergoing treatment, but the cause of his death was not immediately known. His death was announced by Liz Rosenberg, a friend who is a longtime music publicist.

One of the primary songwriting and producing teams of Motown, Ashford & Simpson specialized in romantic duets of the most dramatic kind, professing the power of true love and the comforts of sweet talk. In “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” from 1967, their first of several hits for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, lovers in close harmony proclaim their determination that “no wind, no rain, no winter’s cold, can stop me, baby,” but also make cuter promises: “If you’re ever in trouble, I’ll be there on the double.”

Gaye and Terrell also sang the duo’s songs “Your Precious Love,” “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” and “You’re All I Need to Get By.” Diana Ross sang their “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand,” and when she rerecorded “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough“ in 1970, it became the former Supreme’s first No. 1 hit as a solo artist.

“They had magic, and that’s what creates those wonderful hits, that magic,” Verdine White of Earth, Wind and Fire told The Associated Press after learning of his friend’s death. “Without those songs, those artists wouldn’t have been able to go to the next level.”

Nickolas Ashford was born in Fairfield, S.C., and raised in Willow Run, Mich., where his father, Calvin, was a construction worker. He got his musical start at Willow Run Baptist Church, singing and writing songs for the gospel choir. He briefly attended Eastern Michigan University, in Ypsilanti, before heading to New York, where he tried but failed to find success as a dancer.

In 1964, while homeless, Mr. Ashford went to White Rock Baptist Church in Harlem, where he met Ms. Simpson, a 17-year-old recent high school graduate who was studying music. They began writing songs together, selling the first bunch for $64. In 1966, after Ray Charles sang “Let’s Go Get Stoned,” a song Ashford & Simpson wrote with Joey Armstead, the duo signed on with Motown as staff writers and producers.

They wrote for virtually every major act on the label, including Gladys Knight and the Pips (“Didn’t You Know You’d Have to Cry Sometime”) and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (“Who’s Gonna Take the Blame”).

While writing for Motown, Ashford & Simpson nursed a desire to perform, which Berry Gordy Jr., the founder and patriarch of the label, discouraged. They left the label in 1973 and married in 1974.

Ashford & Simpson’s initial collaborations sold poorly, but by the late ‘70s, songs like “Don’t Cost You Nothing,” “It Seems to Hang On” and “Found a Cure” became hits on the R&B charts. Their biggest hit as a solo act was “Solid,” which reached No. 12 on the pop chart and No. 1 on the R&B chart in 1984.

They also continued to write hits for other people. “I’m Every Woman“ was a hit for Chaka Khan in 1978, and later for Whitney Houston on the soundtrack to the 1992 film “The Bodyguard.” In 1996, they opened the Sugar Bar on West 72nd Street in Manhattan, where they often presided over open mic nights. Recently, they received a songwriting credit on Amy Winehouse’s song “Tears Dry on Their Own,” which contains a sample from “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

Besides his wife, Mr. Ashford is survived by two daughters, Nicole and Asia; his brothers Paul, Albert and Frank; and his mother, Alice Ashford.

Ashford & Simpson toured throughout their career, their harmony and vocal interplay illustrating the passion of their lyrics and of their life together.

“When Ms. Simpson sits down at the piano and begins to sing in a bright pop-gospel voice, unchanged since the 1970s,” Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote in a review in 2007, “she awakens the spirit and tosses it to Mr. Ashford, whose quirkier voice, with its airy falsetto, has gained in strength from the old days. Soon they are urging each other on. By the time their romantic relay winds to a close, both are sweating profusely, and the audience is delirious.”


They were always “Solid as a Rock”. Nick and Valerie—the epitome of class, style, and distinction.

Mr. Ashford was a singer/songwriter who wrote beautiful songs of love and devotion. He and his wife, Ms. Valerie Simpson, proved “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing”.

My condolences to Ms. Valerie Simpson-Ashford. May she have strength to weather this time of grieving in her loss.

Rest in peace, Mr. Ashford.

Rest in peace.



Business Wire

From left, Mike Stoller, Elvis Presley and Jerry Leiber at MGM Studios in 1957.


Published: August 22, 2011

Jerry Leiber, the lyricist who, with his partner, Mike Stoller, wrote some of the most enduring classics in the history of rock ’n’ roll, including “Hound Dog,” “Yakety Yak,” “Stand By Me” and “On Broadway,” died on Monday in Los Angeles. He was 78.

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August 23, 2011

Danny Moloshok/Reuters

Mr. Stoller, left, and Mr. Leiber at an awards ceremony in 2008.

The cause was cardio-pulmonary failure, said Randy Poe, president of Leiber & Stoller Music Publishing.

The team of Leiber and Stoller was formed in 1950, when Mr. Leiber was still a student at Fairfax High in Los Angeles and Mr. Stoller, a fellow rhythm-and-blues fanatic, was a freshman at Los Angeles City College. With Mr. Leiber contributing catchy, street-savvy lyrics and Mr. Stoller, a pianist, composing infectious, bluesy tunes, they set about writing songs with black singers and groups in mind.

In 1952, they wrote “Hound Dog” for the blues singer Big Mama Thornton. The song became an enormous hit for Elvis Presley in 1956 and made Leiber and Stoller the hottest songwriting team in rock ’n’ roll. They later wrote “Jailhouse Rock,” “Loving You,” “Don’t,” “Treat Me Nice,” “King Creole” and other songs for Presley, despite their loathing for his interpretation of “Hound Dog.”

In the late 1950s, having relocated to New York and taken their place among the constellation of talents associated with the Brill Building, they emerged as perhaps the most potent songwriting team in the genre.

Their hits for the Drifters remain some of the most admired songs in the rock ’n’ roll canon, notably “On Broadway,” written with Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. “Spanish Harlem,” which Mr. Leiber wrote with Phil Spector, gave Ben E. King his first hit after leaving the Drifters. Mr. King’s most famous recording, “Stand By Me,” was a Leiber-Stoller song on which he collaborated.

They wrote a series of hits for the Coasters, including “Charlie Brown,” “Young Blood” with Doc Pomus, “Searchin’,” “Poison Ivy” and “Yakety Yak.”

“Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” a 1954 hit written for the Robins, became the title of a Broadway musical based on the Leiber and Stoller songbook. In 1987, the partners were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller have written some of the most spirited and enduring rock ’n’ roll songs,” the hall said in a statement when they were inducted. “Leiber and Stoller advanced rock ’n’ roll to new heights of wit and musical sophistication.”

Jerome Leiber was born on April 25, 1933, in Baltimore, where his parents, Jewish immigrants from Poland, ran a general store. When Jerry was 5, his father died and his mother tried, with little success, to run a small store in one of the city’s worst slums. When he was 12, she took him to Los Angeles.

It was while attending Fairfax High in Los Angeles and working in Norty’s Record Shop that he met Lester Sill, a promoter for Modern Records, and confessed that he wanted to be a songwriter. After Sill urged him to find a pianist who could help him put his ideas onto sheet music he met Mr. Stoller through a friend, and the two began writing together

“Often I would have a start, two or four lines,” Mr. Leiber told Robert Palmer, the author of “Baby, That Was Rock & Roll: The Legendary Leiber and Stoller” (1978). “Mike would sit at the piano and start to jam, just playing, fooling around, and I’d throw out a line. He’d accommodate the line — metrically, rhythmically.”

Within a few years they had written modestly successful songs for several rhythm-and-blues singers: “K.C. Lovin’ ” for Little Willie Littlefield, which under the title “Kansas City” became a No. 1 hit for Wilbert Harrison in 1959.

In 1952, Sill arranged for Mr. Leiber and Mr. Stoller to visit the bandleader Johnny Otis and to listen to several of the rhythm-and-blues acts who worked with him, including Big Mama Thornton, who sang “Ball and Chain” for them. Inspired, the partners went back to Mr. Stoller’s house and wrote “Hound Dog.”

“I yelled, he played,” Mr. Leiber told Josh Alan Friedman, the author of “Tell the Truth Until They Bleed: Coming Clean in the Dirty World of Blues and Rock ’n’ Roll” (2008). “The groove came together and we finished in 12 minutes flat. I work fast. We raced right back to lay the song on Big Mama.”

In 1953 they formed Spark Records, an independent label, with Sill, but without national distribution it failed to score major hits. Atlantic Records, which had bought the Leiber and Stoller song “Ruby Baby” and “Fools Fall in Love” for the Drifters, signed them to an unusual agreement that allowed them to produce for other labels. The golden age of Leiber and Stoller began.

Their seemingly endless list of hit songs from this period included “Love Potion No. 9” for the Clovers (later a hit for the Searchers).

In the mid-1960s, Mr. Leiber and Mr. Stoller concentrated on production. They founded Red Bird Records, where they turned out hit records by girl groups like the Dixie Cups (“Chapel of Love”) and the Shangri-Las (“Leader of the Pack,” “Walking in the Sand”).

They sold the label in 1966 and worked as independent producers and writers. Peggy Lee, who had recorded their song “I’m a Woman” in 1963, recorded “Is that All There Is?” in 1969.

Mr. Leiber is survived by three sons, Jed, Oliver and Jake, and two grandchildren.

With Mr. Stoller and David Ritz, Mr. Leiber wrote a 2009 memoir, “Hound Dog: The Leiber & Stoller Autobiography.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 24, 2011

An obituary on Tuesday about the lyricist Jerry Leiber misstated the given name of a record executive who helped him early in his career. He was Lester Sill, not Leonard. The obituary also referred incorrectly to the recording of the original versions of the songs “Stand by Me” and “Spanish Harlem,” both of which Mr. Leiber co-wrote. They were recorded by Ben E. King — not by the Drifters, for whom he had been the lead singer. (Mr. King recorded both songs shortly after leaving the group.)





Published: August 24, 2011


Joey Vento, the founder of Geno’s Steaks, a stand-in-line takeout establishment that is one of the pillars of the cheese-steak mecca of South Philadelphia, died Tuesday at his home in Shamong, N.J. He was 71.

August 25, 2011

Matt Rourke/Associated Press

August 25, 2011

Joey Vento, whose Philadelphia restaurant, Geno’s, stands opposite the rival Pat’s.

Matt Rourke/Associated Press

Geno’s Steaks in Philadelphia.

The cause was a heart attack, said his son, Geno (who was named after the food stand).

The bulging, dripping cheese-steak sandwich, while hardly a rival to the hamburger, the hot dog or the pizza slice, has etched a niche for itself nationally in the last half-century. And the predominantly Italian-American neighborhood that is considered its birthplace is a draw for local devotees and throngs of tourists detouring from Independence Hall.

Geno’s Steaks is considered one of the Big Three of the Philly cheese-steak establishments. It stands at the southern end of the Italian Market, where Ninth Street, Wharton Street and Passyunk Avenue intersect. Diagonally across the way is its chief rival, Pat’s King of Steaks, while the also renowned Jim’s Steaks is closer to the city’s center.

Started by Mr. Vento in 1967, Geno’s — like Pat’s — is open 24-7, its patrons inching up to the windows and usually saying, “Whiz, with,” indicating that they want the paper-thin strips of sizzled beef on a hero topped with Cheez Whiz and grilled onions.

“Without” means hold the onions.

While Pat’s opened in the 1930s, both establishments claimed to have been the first to slather cheese atop the beef.

Still, as R. W. Apple Jr. wrote in The New York Times in 2003: “Geno’s steaks are almost self-effacing. The cheese dissolves into a runny sauce; the strips of beef are laid precisely on the roll, rather than in a tangle; and the onions are sparsely applied.”

So many customers have ordered those belly-bending sandwiches since 1966, when they cost 35 cents apiece, that Mr. Vento became a millionaire. These days, the basic sandwich costs $9.

Mr. Vento was no stranger to controversy. In 2005 he posted signs at Geno’s that read, “This is America: When ordering please speak English.” Critics asserted that the signs were discriminatory. In an interview with Fox News, Mr. Vento said the critics were ignoring the word “please,” adding: “I am not demanding it. It just makes things a lot easier. And the bottom line is, like I said before, nobody gets refused.”

In 2008, the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations ruled, 2-to-1, that the signs did not violate the city’s Fair Practices Ordinance.

Joseph Anthony Vento was born in Philadelphia on Dec. 18, 1939, to James and Eva Vento. He dropped out of school in the ninth grade and went to work at his father’s restaurant. With $6, two boxes of steaks and some hot dogs, the family says, he opened Geno’s — a name that he took after spotting it on the building’s back door.

Besides his son, Mr. Vento is survived by his wife of 51 years, the former Eileen Perno; his sister, Marie Vento; and his brother, James.

The rivalry between Geno’s and Pat’s never waned. But in an interview with Fortune magazine in 2003, Frank Olivieri, the owner of Pat’s, was asked what he would do if Geno’s ever closed.

“I’d feel a void — that’d be hard,” he said. Then he added: “I’d buy the place and open it up again. And call it Geno’s. And fight with myself.”


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Diamond planet orbits pulsar.

Swinburne Astronomy Productions

Bulletin at a Glance

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

A Planet Made of Diamond

August 25, 2011 | Astronomers have discovered another weird exoplanet – this one made of diamond. What’s more? The planet may have once been a massive star. > read more

Webb Telescope: Progress and Problems

August 26, 2011 | Despite threats by the House of Representatives to cut funding, the James Webb Space Telescope plans move ahead. > read more

The Moon’s Uncertain Age

August 23, 2011 | Is the lunar crust only 4.36 billion years old, as new results suggest, or at least 4.43 billion years old, as most researchers believe? The difference isn’t much — but the implications for early lunar history are profound. > read more


Supernova in M101

Joseph Brimacombe

Supernova Erupts in Pinwheel Galaxy

August 25, 2011 | An exploding star, apparently captured just hours after its destruction, is already within reach of medium-size backyard telescopes and still brightening. The host galaxy is M101, perched just north of the Big Dipper’s handle. > read more

Ceres and Vesta in 2011

May 20, 2011 | The two brightest asteroids are in fine view for binoculars or a telescope. Here are instructions and charts to find them. > read more

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

Bright twilight

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

August 26, 2011 | Jupiter rises earlier and higher week by week. The crescent Moon returns low in twilight and occults a 2nd-magnitude star. And there’s the new supernova in M101…. > read more


Texas Star Party 2009

Todd Hargis / Ron Ronhaar

Let the Star Parties Begin!

April 14, 2011 | Want to gaze at the Milky Way all night or peer into the eyepiece of a 12-foot-tall telescope? Then escape the city lights and head for the nearest “star party.” > read more

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August 25, 2011 Direct | Published by the Applied Research Center

The Alabama Town Most Changed (and Saved) by Immigration

Poverty, dangerous work, struggling schools–yes, there’s a problem in Alabama, but it’s not immigration. Gabriel Thompson reports from a town that shows how, actually, immigration will save the state.

INFOGRAPHIC: How States Broke the Record on Immigration Bills in 2011 Survey: A People of Color Majority? Meh, So What?

Despite all the fuss in politics about the coming non-white majority, most people don’t care about it. But Dom Apollon finds those with fears are the most vocal.
Also: Previous Survey–What Causes Racial Disparities?

‘Awkward Black Girl’ Creator Talks Hollywood, Race and Creative Control

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Cherokee Nation Revokes Tribal Citizenship From Descendants of Slaves

by Jorge Rivas

Wednesday, August 24 2011, 10:54 AM EST

On Monday the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court reversed and vacated a district court decision that granted equal tribal citizenship rights to descendants of freedmen — former slaves who had been owned by Cherokees. The decision will immediately terminate the tribal citizenship of about 2,800 so-called “non-Indians.”

In 2007, the Cherokee Nation ruled it would no longer recognize the descendants of freedmen as members of the Cherokee Nation. But in January, Cherokee Nation District Judge John Cripps ruled in favor of the freedmen descendants, citing an 1866 treaty between the United States and the tribe that granted equal rights to the freedmen.

In Monday’s 4-1 decision, the court maintained that citizenship was extended to the freedmen by an 1866 Cherokee constitutional amendment — not the treaty — and that Judge Cripps did not have the authority to overturn its results.

The attorney representing freedmen in their case against the Cherokee Nation said Tuesday that he was shocked the tribe’s Supreme Court ruled against the freedmen so close to the special election to pick a new chief, according to the Oklahoman.

The ruling came a day before the tribe’s election officials sent out absentee ballots for the election between Chad Smith and Bill John Baker.

The freedmen, who have been fighting for citizenship in the Cherokee Nation, consider the incumbent principal tribal chief Smith one of their adversaries.



It no longer surprises me that this revocation of the citizenship of the Black Freedmen/Women Cherokees occurred.

I have written about this racist travesty herehere,  and  here.

Just a few months ago, the Cherokee Nation Court voted to return citizenship back to the 2,800 Freedman/Women who were stripped of their citizenship in 2007.

Nevermind that the ex-enslave Freedmen/Women lived under race-based slavery in the Cherokee Nation. Nevermind that the Freedmen/Women walked the Trail of Tears with the evicted Cherokees, as well as some Freedmen/Women dying along the Trail with Cherokees. Nevermind that the Cherokee Constitution itself clearly stated that ex-enslaves were given citizenship.

There will be those who will state the hateful cognitive dissonance of “Hey, it’s their country. Let them do as they please.”

And what is the difference in stating the obvious on the flip side, if it was the United States and the citizenship of Black Americans? The same could also be said about America:  “Hey, it’s their country. Let them do as they please.”

That the Cherokee Nation has re-written its constitution more than once to sabotage the rights of citizenship for the Freedmen/Women is no secret. Taking the citizenship from the Freedmen/Women who were citizens of the Cherokee Nation is sick, repulsive, and racist.

Yeah, I said it. And to hell with whomever hates to hear the truth.

As for those who feel that the Cherokees have “paid their debt” to the Freedmen/Women; that the Cherokee Nation has done right by stripping their citizens of this constitutional right; that the Cherokee nation acted legally and humanely in its mistreatment of its citizens–I say that those who utter and believe such hate are just as less than as this so-called nation that worships race hatred. The Cherokee Nation will never be able to live this venomous episode down. It has shown its true colors in out-whiting the most racist of Whites in the United States. And hey, the CN is only doing what the United States wishes it could do–and get away with.

There are those who bleat that the White man and White woman have done soooo much for Black Americans. That the Cherokee Nation has done soooo much for the Freedmen/Women.


The Cherokee Nation has been just as racially savage against the Freedmen/Women just as the United States has been racially savage against her Black citizens.

Both so-called nations are nothing but Whores of Babylon, and like the Great Whore, the Cherokee Nation worships the abominations of hate, cruelty, and vile trickery.

Nations which shit on their citizens like the Cherokee Nation are on borrowed time anyway.

Just goes to show Black people:

We are in this alone. The world is not in our corner no matter how many of us self-delude ourselves into thinking that many non-Blacks give a damn about us. Very few do. Very few lift a finger. Very few speak up.

As for what the Cherokee Nation has been itching to do since 2007, I will say the same thing I would say to any nation that fits the Whore of Babylon tag:

Drop dead.


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