I've Been Buked - Arr. HALL JOHNSON: A History Lesson for 2021 Holiday Season
Francis Hall Johnson (March 12, 1888 – April 30, 1970) was an American composer and arranger of African-American spiritual music. He is one of a group—including Harry T. Burleigh, R. Nathaniel Dett, and Eva Jessye—who had great success performing African-American spirituals.
Francis Hall Johnson was born on March 12, 1888, the fourth of six children of Alice Virginia Sansom and William Decker Johnson, who was a bishop in the AME Church. Johnson received an extensive education. He attended the private, all-black Knox Institute and earned a degree from Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina. He also attended Atlanta University, the Juilliard School, Hahn School of Music, and the University of Pennsylvania.
As a boy, Johnson was tutored on piano by his older sister, and he taught himself to play the violin after hearing a violin recital given by Joseph Henry Douglass, grandson of Frederick Douglass.
Johnson's debut as a professional violinist occurred in a concert in New York in 1910. He went on to play the violin and viola professionally, including in the orchestra for the 1921 musical, Shuffle Along. Johnson played in the orchestra led by James Reese Europe as it accompanied Vernon and Irene Castle on tour, and he played with the New York Syncopated Orchestra, led by Will Marion Cook in 1918.
Poster for Hall Johnson's Run, Little Chillun at San Diego
In time, however, he became more interested in choral music, forming the Hall Johnson Negro Choir, the first of many choral ensembles, in 1925. The group first performed professionally at the Pythian Temple in 1928. Johnson and his choir became renowned through their participation in the 1930 Broadway production of Marc Connelly's The Green Pastures as well as in national and international tours of the play, radio versions, the 1936 film adaptation, and Hallmark Hall of Fame television broadcasts.
Johnson would also go on to arrange music for and conduct his choir in more than thirty feature-length Hollywood films, besides a number of short films and cartoons. Johnson wrote Run, Little Chillun, which premiered on Broadway in 1933 and was produced in Los Angeles in 1935 - 1937 under the auspices of the Federal Theater Project. Another production of the folk opera was featured in San Francisco in 1939 as an exhibit of the Works Progress Administration at the Golden Gate International Exposition.
Also in 1937, the Hall Johnson Choir was featured in the soundtracks of the Frank Capra film Lost Horizon, Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Hal Roach's Zenobia. In 1941 they returned for yet another Disney film, Dumbo, specifically for the song "When I See An Elephant Fly"; Johnson himself voiced one of the crow characters, the Preacher Crow. Some members of the choir also provided voices to these characters as well except Cliff Edwards, who voiced the lead Dandy Crow.
In addition to his theatrical work, Johnson wrote the Easter cantata Son of Man, which premiered at New York's City Center in 1946, the same year that the Hall Johnson Choir sang in Disney's Song of the South. In 1951, the Hall Johnson Choir was selected by the United States Department of State to represent the United States at the International Festival of Fine Arts held in Berlin, Germany.
Johnson wrote of the spiritual:
True enough, this music was transmitted to us through humble channels, but its source is that of all great art everywhere—the unquenchable, divinely human longing for a perfect realization of life. It traverses every shade of emotion without spilling over in any direction. Its most tragic utterances are without pessimism, and its lightest, brightest moments have nothing to do with frivolity. In its darkest expressions there is always a hope, and in its gayest measures a constant reminder. Born out of the heart-cries of a captive people who still did not forget how to laugh, this music covers an amazing range of mood. Nevertheless, it is always serious music and should be performed seriously, in the spirit of its original conception.
Johnson was fluent in both German and French. Among the singers he coached were Marian Anderson, Robert McFerrin and Shirley Verrett. His arrangements of the spirituals have been recorded by some of the world's finest artists.
Johnson, aged 82, died during a fire at his New York apartment on April 30, 1970.
In 1975, Johnson was posthumously honored for his work in films by being elected to the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.
A 1931 bust of Johnson by Minna Harkavy was shown at an exhibition at the Moscow Museum of Western Art and was bought by the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.
In 1934, the Philadelphia Academy of Music recognized Johnson with an honorary doctorate.
Johnson's photograph, taken by Sidney Cowell in 1960, is included in the National Portrait Gallery of the United States.
In September 2020, the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission included Hall Johnson in the first ten inductees of the Athens Music Walk of Fame installed downtown, alongside other, more contemporary honorees such as R.E.M., The B-52's, and Vic Chesnutt. A plaque mounted in the sidewalk and mobile-app beacon honor Johnson's career.[8
^Wintz, Cary D.; Finkelman, Paul (2012). Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance. Routledge. ISBN 9781135455361. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
^ Simpson, Eugene Thamon (2008). Hall Johnson: His Life, His Spirit, and His Music. Scarecrow Press. p. 1. ISBN 9781461701101. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
^ Haag, John. "Hall Johnson (1888-1970)". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Georgia Humanities Council and the University of Georgia Press. Archived from the original on 24 January 2018. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
^ a b c d e f g h Hatch, James Vernon; Hamalian, Leo (1996). Lost Plays of the Harlem Renaissance, 1920-1940. Wayne State University Press. pp. 227–229. ISBN 0814325807. Retrieved 24 January 2018. Francis Hall Johnson.
^ Johnson, Thirty Spirituals: Arranged for Voice and Piano. (New York: G. Schirmer; dist., Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard, 1949).
^ Rubenstein, Charlotte Streifer, American Women Sculptors, G.K. Hall & Co., Boston 1990 p. 266
^ "Hall Johnson". Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Archived from the original on 25 January 2018. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
^ Smith, Jessica. "Athens Cultural Affairs Commission Announces Inductees of the Athens Music Walk of Fame". Flagpole: The Colorbearer of Athens, Georgia. Flagpole Magazine. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
Simpson, Eugene Thamon. Hall Johnson: His Life, His Spirit, and His Music. Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, 2008.
This lesson was composed on Friday afternoon, November 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, CA . On this day, in the USA, in the State of Wisconsin, home to perhaps the oldest generations of the family of Willie Walker, Sr. and Annie Mae Thompson Walker yet reside, an 18 year old man of European ancestry was exonerated in the shooting death of 2 other American citizens of European descent, one of who was chronically mentally challenged. The shootings were notable was the sole fatalities during what began as a non-violent protest triggered by Kenosha, WI law enforcement shooting a Black American man of African descent a total of7 times while his young children watched in terror, pain, and horror.
[[ On August 23, 2020, Jacob S. Blake, a 29-year-old black man, was shot and seriously injured by police officer Rusten Sheskey in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Sheskey shot Blake in the back four times and the side three times when Blake opened the driver's door to his girlfriend's rented SUV and began to turn towards Sheskey. Sheskey said that he believed he was about to be stabbed, since Blake was carrying a knife. Earlier during the encounter, Blake had been tasered by two officers, but they failed to restrain Blake.[ ]]
Blake had a warrant for his arrest from July, based on charges of third-degree sexual assault,[note 1] trespassing, and disorderly conduct in connection with domestic abuse. Both Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis and the Kenosha Professional Police Association stated that the officers dispatched on August 23 were aware of the pending warrant for Blake before they arrived on scene.
The police shooting was followed by unrest, which included rallies, marches, property damage, arson, and clashes with police. Two protesters were also fatally shot in a confrontation with an armed civilian, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse. Blake's name was invoked in protests in other cities as part of the Black Lives Matter movement, which resurged in the wake of several high-profile killings by police officers in 2020.
In January 2021, Kenosha County prosecutors announced that the officers involved in the shooting would not be charged, and Sheskey returned to regular police duty in April 2021. Prosecutors also announced that Blake would not face any new charges, and they dropped previous sexual assault and tresspassing charges against Blake in exchange for him pleading guilty to two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct, for which he was then sentenced to two years of probation
Blake was flown to Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. His father announced on August 25 that Blake was paralyzed from the waist down and that doctors do not yet know if it would be permanent. He also suffered a gunshot wound to one arm and damage to his stomach, kidney, and liver; he had to have most of his small intestines and colon removed. Blake was initially handcuffed to his hospital bed and guarded by two officers due to an outstanding warrant. The handcuffs were removed and the officers stopped guarding Blake after he posted bond.
As of August 2021, Blake was able to take a few steps, "which he compared to sliding his legs through a woodchipper", and was suffering from anxiety attacks.
Kenosha police referred the investigation of the shooting to the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation. The investigation's findings went to district attorney Michael D. Graveley, the local official responsible for deciding whether to bring charges against the officers. Graveley stated on August 25, 2020 that the investigation was in "its earliest stages". On the same day, the United States Department of Justice also announced an investigation into the shooting. The investigation would look into whether Blake's civil rights were violated. In October 2021, the Department of Justice announced it will not pursue federal civil rights charges against the officer, citing insufficient evidence that the officer willfully violated federal civil rights statutes.
Blake's family retained civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who also represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, to represent Blake in their civil suit. Crump called for the officer who shot Blake to be arrested, and others involved to be fired.
On August 26, Wisconsin attorney general Josh Kaul announced that officer Sheskey was the only officer who fired his weapon. All were placed on administrative leave.
On August 28, the police union said that most narratives about the shooting were wholly inaccurate and purely fictional, including information from Blake's attorneys. It also criticized a statement released by the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation, which is leading the investigation into the police shooting, as "riddled with incomplete information".
On September 4, 2020, Blake pleaded not guilty to the July sexual assault charge, appearing via Zoom from his hospital bed. In November 2020, Blake reached a deal with the prosecution where the charges of sexual assault were dropped in return for him pleading guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct. He was sentenced to two years of probation.
On September 21, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul appointed a former sheriff of Madison, Wisconsin, to review the work of Wisconsin Department of Justice investigators and provide a written report to the Kenosha County District Attorney.
On January 5, 2021, Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley, the top prosecutor in the county, declined to bring charges against Police Officer Rusten Sheskey. He said that investigators had reviewed 40 hours of video and hundreds of pages of police reports before making the decision.
In April 2021, it was reported that Sheskey has returned to regular duty and will not face any administrative discipline.
In October 2021, the US Department of Justice announced it would not be bringing civil rights charges against Sheskey.
Meanwhile, in the Fall of 2021, comedian David Chappelle was publically criticized and ridiculed for asking the LGBTQIA+ Community, known for having won the right to marry in a landmark Supreme Court decision on June 26, 2015.(I cried alone on that day as well.) Those were tears of relief and joy. Today, over six years later, approaching the sixth anniversary of the last Thanksgiving I would share with family I have not seen since November 2015 before my mother's burial, I constructed this lesson plan to mark a significant series of personal losses.
The tears today are tears of deep and profound grief.
I have no idea of what the future holds for the United States of America or the people of the Planet we call Earth. I like millions(?) billions(?) of chronically legally and illegally addicted persons in recovery who also are natural empaths, feel these losses deeply. We always have and we always will.
The deadly weapons must be beaten into plowshares. Harvest season is transitioning into Winter. Spring thaw will announce another Spring, and so those plowshares will be needed to prepare the soil for seedlings to give company to old growth that lay dormant in the frozen earth responds again to The Warmth of Other Suns.
The deadly weapons must be beaten into plowshares.
As performed on April 22, 201 7 by the North Park
University Gospel Choir Touring Group in Anderson
Chapel, under the direction of Stephen Kelly (Director)
and Dr. Helen Hudgens (Assistant Director).
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