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BLACKOGRAPHY: THE SENATOR and THE SOCIALITE

 
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    Posted: Feb 07 2013 at 11:30pm
First Elected Black Senator to serve a full term.  His children ruined his legacy and his descendants are white.  


Blanche Kelso Bruce, U.S. Senator (R – MS)

March 1, 1841 – March 17, 1898

Interred/bruce.jpg

Although born a slave in Virginia, Bruce had the unusual opportunity to receive a formal education.  He was first educated by his young master, in a school in Missouri, and finally in Oberlin, Ohio.  During the Civil War, Bruce was a teacher and founded a school for Blacks in Kansas. 

 

Eventually he settled in Mississippi, where he held several positions, such as Sergeant-at-Arms of the Mississippi Legislature, member of the Levee Board, Sheriff and Tax Collector, and County Superintendent of Education.  In 1875, Blanche Bruce became the second African American elected to the U.S. Senate and the first to serve a full term.  Representing the State of Mississippi from 1875 to 1881, Bruce investigated the bankruptcy of the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company. 

 

The Bruce family was considered among the African American elite in Washington, DC.  After completing his Senate term Bruce stayed in the District.  Bruce was given a presidential appointment of two prominent positions that were only for African Americans: registrar of the U.S. Treasury (1881 – 1885; 1887) and recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia (1889).  Bruce was also a trustee of District public schools and of Howard University.  While in DC, real estate and insurance ventures helped make him one of the wealthiest citizens of DC.  Bruce-Monroe Elementary School, a public school in the District, is named for Senator Bruce.



DON'T SAY I NEVER GAVE YALL NEGROES ANYTHING: Happy Black History Month Big smileebook from scribed about him and his people.  A very good read: http://www.scribd.com/doc/63341956/the-Senator-and-the-Socialite-the-True-Story-of-America-s-First-Black-Dynasty

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote EPITOME Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 07 2013 at 11:32pm
oh apparently it's not free...womp.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carolina cutie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 07 2013 at 11:38pm
What about Hiram Revels?

NA folk claim him too due to his last name but steeel! lol
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jonesable Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 07 2013 at 11:40pm
And therein lies the perils of swirling
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Alias_Avi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 07 2013 at 11:53pm
That is my biggest fear (my bloodline turning white)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote EPITOME Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 07 2013 at 11:58pm
Originally posted by Alias_Avi Alias_Avi wrote:

That is my biggest fear (my bloodline turning white)


LOL that wouldn't be my BIGGEST fear but it's unfortunate especially considering the legacy and work this man put into his son.

what's funny is that his great granddaughter grew up black and she married another black who also grew up black.  but that man was an actor--and he was very fair and couldn't work.  he was light enough to play a white man so he wasn't cast in black plays--but he couldn't be a white actor bc he was black...so they cut ties with their prestigious families on the east coast, moved to Hollywood, and said they were Indian so that he could work.

there is also a great side story about his sons college friend who passed as white after he graduated law school, married a white woman, and lived in NY as a white man. until on his deathbed he confessed he was black to inherit his family fortune. he came from a very very wealthy black family that descended from a rich white landowner. that family is huge...i want to remember the name.

this author used to have a website with all the names of these ppl that was great but he took it downOuch
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Alias_Avi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 08 2013 at 12:01am
Ah Hell Naw!! He ain't worthy!

Originally posted by EPITOME EPITOME wrote:

Originally posted by Alias_Avi Alias_Avi wrote:

That is my biggest fear (my bloodline turning white)


LOL that wouldn't be my BIGGEST fear but it's unfortunate especially considering the legacy and work this man put into his son.

what's funny is that his great granddaughter grew up black and she married another black who also grew up black.  but that man was an actor--and he was very fair and couldn't work.  he was light enough to play a white man so he wasn't cast in black plays--but he couldn't be a white actor bc he was black...so they cut ties with their prestigious families on the east coast, moved to Hollywood, and said they were Indian so that he could work.

there is also a great side story about his sons college friend who passed as white after he graduated law school, married a white woman, and lived in NY as a white man. until on his deathbed he confessed he was black to inherit his family fortune. he came from a very very wealthy black family that descended from a rich white landowner. that family is huge...i want to remember the name.

this author used to have a website with all the names of these ppl that was great but he took it downOuch
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote EPITOME Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 08 2013 at 12:01am
i need to remember that family--they have a website and everything. ugh.....




Rise and Fall of the House of Bruce

Blanche K. Bruce (senator from Mississippi, 1875-1881) and his wife, Josephine
Blanche K. Bruce (senator from Mississippi, 1875-1881) and his wife, Josephine (From The Book Jacket)
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Reviewed by Eric Foner
Sunday, July 2, 2006

THE SENATOR AND THE SOCIALITE

The True Story of America's First Black Dynasty

By Lawrence Otis Graham

HarperCollins. 455 pp. $27.95

It is a revealing commentary on the history of American democracy that, of the 1,885 men and women who have served in the U.S. Senate since the founding of the republic, only five have been black. Remarkably, the first two were elected from Mississippi during the Reconstruction era that followed the Civil War. Hiram Revels served for a few weeks in 1870 and then returned to relative obscurity. Blanche K. Bruce, who held his seat from 1875 to 1881, amassed a small fortune and founded what Lawrence Otis Graham calls "America's first true black dynasty."

In this flawed but fascinating study, Graham, a black attorney and author of Our Kind of People , a bestseller about the black upper class, tells the story of three generations of the Bruce family. It is a poignant tale of struggle, accomplishment and weakness -- and an illuminating account of American racism.

Graham's cast of characters begins with Bruce and his wife, Josephine, the senator and the socialite of the book's title. Born a slave in Virginia in 1841, the son of his owner, Bruce escaped during the Civil War, studied at Oberlin College and made his way to Mississippi, where he rose quickly in politics and purchased a plantation in 1874. His beautiful, light-skinned wife, whom he married in 1878, came from the North's tiny black upper class. After his Senate term expired, Bruce remained in Washington, D.C., where he held lucrative patronage posts, acquired a large townhouse and summer home, and presided over black high society.

The second generation of Bruces enjoyed privileged lives far removed from those of most Americans, white or black. Their only child, Roscoe, attended Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard, worked for a time as head of academic education at the Tuskegee Institute, then served as superintendent of black schools in Washington and manager of the Dunbar Apartments, a Harlem housing complex built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. His talented wife, Clara, attended Radcliffe and Boston University Law School, where she became the first woman anywhere to edit a law review. The third generation, also named Roscoe and Clara, followed in their parents' footsteps to Harvard and Radcliffe.

Graham does not shy away from describing the costs of these accomplishments, among them the Bruces' complete dissociation from most of black America. On the Bruce plantation in Mississippi, black sharecroppers lived in "flimsy wooden shacks" and labored in the same oppressive conditions as on white-owned estates. Equally telling, Roscoe Bruce Sr. found the exuberant mode of worship practiced by lower-class Tuskegee students "disgusting."

That Roscoe Bruce worked at Tuskegee is not coincidental, for the family shared its founder Booker T. Washington's philosophy of accommodation, as well as his reliance on connections with wealthy white patrons. Blanche Bruce said little in the Senate as white violence stripped his people of their rights. Indeed, Graham writes, the senator had "an almost single-minded obsession for maintaining favor with powerful whites." While attending Harvard, his son spied for Washington on Boston's "anti-Bookerite" black radicals. Even though he had received an elite academic education, Roscoe Bruce tried to introduce Washington's philosophy of industrial training in the District of Columbia's black schools, causing an uproar among black parents proud of their children's educational attainments. When a scandal erupted in 1919 because Bruce allowed a white man to take nude photographs of black high school students, allegedly as part of a study of physical differences between the races, he was forced to resign.

Only when it came to their own family did the Bruces turn militant. In 1923, Harvard President A. Lawrence Lowell barred the college's six black freshmen, including Roscoe Jr., from living in freshman dormitories. Roscoe Sr. organized a national campaign that forced Lowell to rescind his order.

An indefatigable researcher in primary sources, Graham sometimes seems unaware of current scholarship. The opening chapters present a confusing picture of Reconstruction politics because Graham uses the word "liberal" in its modern sense of racial egalitarianism rather than its 19th-century meaning of belief in limited government and laissez-faire economics. Contrary to his account, those who called themselves liberal Republicans opposed Reconstruction.

Nonetheless, The Senator and the Socialite offers a compelling portrait of the Bruce family's rise, dynamics and downfall. In 1936, Roscoe Sr. lost his job when Rockefeller sold the Dunbar Apartments. His children lacked the drive and self-discipline of their forebears. The younger Clara failed to complete her studies at Radcliffe and eloped with a black actor. Roscoe Jr. embezzled money from an apartment complex he managed in New Jersey and then arranged a phony burglary to explain the absence of funds. He served 18 months in prison. The legal costs bankrupted the family.

Problems in the third generation of privileged families are standard grist for gossip columnists. But the black elite faced greater obstacles to recovery and had fewer resources and connections to fall back on than their white counterparts. No New York law firm would hire a black female attorney such as Clara Bruce. In their hour of need, the elite whites the Bruces had cultivated for decades abandoned them, refusing repeated requests for assistance. Roscoe Sr. and his wife were reduced to living for a time on welfare. Many of their relatives, including the younger Clara and her actor husband, avoided racism by passing for white. Today, Graham reports, most descendants of Sen. Bruce live as white persons -- an ironic but in some ways understandab

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carolina cutie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 08 2013 at 12:02am
This is interesting Epitome. You're making me readz tonight lol
His wife:

America's First Black Socialite


Although Washington, DC and other cities had several leaders of Black Society, no other Socialite garnered more press and community interest than Josephine Beall Willson Bruce. Her clothing, elegance, and style were consistently covered in a series of Black newspapers around the country and the Washington Post as the Bruce household was the epicenter of Black Society. I first learned about this dynamic woman as an undergraduate and celebrate her legacy in this posting.


Josephine Beall Willson Bruce was born on October 29, 1853 to a prominent Philadelphia Dentist and author Dr. Joseph Wilson and his wife, Elizabeth Harnett Willson, a classical musician and singer. Dr. Willson penned Sketches of the Higher Classes of Colored Society in Philadelphia which was published in 1841. It was the first work of its kind to chronicle the lifestyle and activities of the Black Social Elite.



The Willson family moved to Cleveland when Josephine was a year old and she graduated from Cleveland High School. She served as a teacher in the city’s public school system. Around 1876, Josephine met the handsome and dashing Republican Senator Blanche Bruce of Mississippi around 1876. Although he was born into slavery Blanche Bruce was proud of being self educated with impeccable manners.

The young couple was married on June 24, 1878 in the home of Dr. Willson. Sixty guests attended in ‘full dress’ to witness the stunning bride in a white silk gown created by a New York designer. The Bruces departed on June 27, 1878 on a four month European honeymoon where Josephine shopped in exclusive boutiques for her wardrobe. The Bruces’ only son – Roscoe Conkling – was born in 1879.

Josephine firmly believed that it is the responsibility of the educated to uplift the entire race. She became a charter member of the Colored Women’s League of Washington, DC in 1892 and two years later, assisted in organizing the National Federation of Afro-American Women. The two organizations eventually merged to form the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) in 1896. Josephine was elected as National Vice President of NACW where she worked alongside of ‘heavy hitters’ in the Black political and social arenas including Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, Harriet Tubman, Frances E.W. Harper, Ida Bell Wells-Barnett, and Mary Church Terrell. Two years later, Senator Blanche Bruce died.

Josephine accepted the position as ‘lady principal’ (a.k.a. Dean of Women) at Tuskegee Institute shortly after Blanche Bruce’s death. She remained in the role for two years. Josephine wrote several Black feminist articles for publications of the NAACP and edited the national publication for NACW. Unfortunately, Josephine Bruce was rejected by a large group of the delegates in her bid to become National President of NACW in 1906 due to her skin color.

One delegate was quoted in the Indianapolis Freeman as saying “We prefer a woman who is altogether Negro because while the lighter women have been the greatest leaders and are among the most brilliant in the Association, their cleverness and ability is attributed to their white blood. We want to demonstrate that African is as talented.” Shocked


Shattered and heartbroken by this defeat, Josephine scaled back her participation in NACW. She remained an active lobbyist for the rights of Black women until her death in 1923.

Source: Aristocrats of Color - The Black Elite: 1800-1920 by Willard B. Gatewood.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote EPITOME Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 08 2013 at 12:05am
they said newspapers would constantly refer to her as 'Italian' in coloring but that 'technically' she had more black heritage than her husband.


the story of their daughter in law was sad--brilliant attorney--but could never practice...no one would hire her bc she was black
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