Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Gems From the Black Press: St. Louis Celebrated Garrison Day

Welcome to Gems from the Press!

This is a new feature that I am starting on my blog. My goal is to share each week an interesting articles from early black publications of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The articles found inside of these long forgotten publications contain rich history that reflect  the early years of African America life in the first decades of freedom. Some are publications of fraternal or benevolent societies, and some were more community based. All provide close ups to history and culture of times long past.

Today's focus: 

Garrison Day Celebrations in St. Louis
from The American Eagle, of St. Louis Missouri.

Source:Ancestry.com. U.S., African American Newspapers, 1829-1947 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors.
Original data: Negro Newspapers for the American Council of Learned Studies. Washington, D.C.: The Library of Congress.

This newspaper was "the official organ of the Knights of Pythias and Order of Calanthe of Missouri. From what I understand, the Order of Calanthe is a local chapter of the larger Grand Order of Calanthe, also another historically black fraternal organization.

Only one issue of this publication was presented online and it is not known if others survived, nor how long this publication may have run. However, still from this one publication from Missouri, one can still glean some interesting information about the impact that the benevolent societies had on the social fabric of the black community.

In 1905, one interesting event was celebrated in St. Louis and this was the celebration of Garrison Day. This was a celebration honoring William Lloyd Garrison, a well known abolitionist. Although this abolitionist and social reformer died in 1879, his legacy was still being honored in St. Louis as late as 1905. The day's events took place on Sunday December 10th 1905 in the city.

Source: (Same a above.)

Events were held in several places throughout the black community. Among the churches holding events to honor Garrison, were Central Baptist Church, and Metropolitan AME Zion, where noted attorney J. Milton Turner preached. A detachment of Buffalo Soldiers (9th Cavalry) were in attendance at the Metropolitan event, and St. Louis educator J.B. Vashon read historic letters written by Garrison decades earlier. Other events were held at Douglass Hall, U.B.F. Hall, and Pythian Temple. The same edition of the American Eagle, also included the text of one of the major speeches delivered on that day.

It is not known how long the Garrison Day celebrations took place in the city of St. Louis in the African American community, but it is clear from this small article that the legacy of this abolitionist was appreciated for many decades and well into the 20th century and well into the early decades of freedom.

I hope that those with elders still living in the greater St. Louis area will be encouraged to interview them, to see if Garrison Day celebrations were part of their lives many decades ago.

(A follow up article will examine more closely the activities of the Knights of Pythias and how it impacted the St. Louis Black community in 1905.)

1 comment:

Bernita said...

I love your new feature. I think it's a great/genius idea. It is always nice to learn something new. I am grateful to have learned about St. Louis celebrating Garrison Day. Thank you for your wonderful post.