|Lonnie Bunch, museum director, historian, lecturer, and author, is proud to present A Page from Our American Story, a regular on-line series for Museum supporters. It will showcase individuals and events in the African American experience, placing these stories in the context of a larger story — our American story.
A Page From Our American Story
Talent knows no color barrier, so much so that it has often provided African Americans a path to knocking down racial barriers. In the case of Sissieretta Jones, Lillian Evanti, Hazel Scott, and Lena Horne, their talent opened doors on stages around the world and paved the way for countless black entertainers to come.
Born in Portsmouth, Virginia, in January 1868, Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones began formally studying music at the Providence Music Academy in Rhode Island at the age of 14. She is believed to have completed her training some years later at Boston’s renowned New England Conservatory of Music.
With her New York opera debut at Steinway Hall in 1888, Jones’ talent was quickly recognized. She toured overseas and became known as the world’s “first Negro prima donna.” Her voice and striking presence led to comparisons with Italian soprano Adelina Patti — considered the premier diva of the day. Jones was nicknamed “Black Patti” — which she resented for obvious reasons — but as Miss Jones proved to all, a woman of color was capable of giving world class performances.
Though racism kept her from performing on America’s most renowned stage, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, she did perform at the White House, and gave a command performance before England’s Royal Family. In June 1892, she became the first African American to take the stage at Carnegie Hall, and by 1895 she was the highest paid black entertainer in the world. By showing the world that a black woman could perform classical opera, Jones laid the ground work for future entertainers, including Lillian Evanti.
Lillian Evanti was born Lillian Evans on August 12, 1890 in Washington, D.C. She graduated with a music degree from Howard University in 1907. Thirteen years later she left America for Europe. There she became the first African American to sing with professional opera companies in Nice and Paris.
Evanti spoke (and sang in) five languages and critics praised her commanding coloratura soprano. In the 1930s, Evanti returned to Washington, D.C. to perform in the city’s premier theater, the Belasco, one of the few major venues that permitted performances before integrated audiences. The Washington Post called her appearance a “home-coming triumph.”
In 1932, the director of the Metropolitan Opera asked her to audition. The Opera’s board of directors, however, refused to allow Evanti to join the company, a decision based solely on her race. That, however, did not prevent her from performing in front of tens of thousands at Madison Square Garden and other substantial venues. It would take 23 more years before an African American female, Marian Anderson, would actually perform at the Metropolitan Opera, thanks in no small part to the trail blazed by Lillian Evanti.
A gifted musician and performer, Hazel Scott is an American Jazz legend who used her talent to fight against racist stereotypes and attitudes.
Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad on June 11, 1920, Hazel Scott was a child prodigy. After moving to New York City, Scott was given a special exemption to enroll in the prestigious Juilliard School of Music when she was only 8 years old — half the normal enrollment age of 16. By the time she was in high school she was hosting a radio show on WOR and performing in the evening.
Before long, Scott was the premier entertainer at New York’s Café Society, the city’s first fully integrated club. An accomplished pianist, she also played trumpet, and saxophone — the latter in a stint with Louis Armstrong’s All Girl Band. She spoke seven languages, appeared in a handful of movies, and married New York Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., a celebrity in his own right.
Scott didn’t shy away from fighting for civil rights. Included in her performance contracts was a clause mandating that the venues be fully integrated. In addition, she was an outspoken critic of the stereotypical roles offered to black actresses.
In June 1950, Scott was wrongly linked to communist-leaning organizations by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). In September, Scott voluntarily appeared before the committee. Though she gave a rousing defense of her patriotism, and no ties to communist groups were found, the stain of the HUAC damaged her career. By the time she was able to make a comeback in the early 1960s, jazz’ popularity had been eclipsed by rhythm and blues, and rock and roll. Jazz critics and aficionados consider her critically acclaimed 1955 album, Relaxed Piano Moods, one of the most important jazz recordings of the twentieth century.
Lena Horne’s life was a remarkably powerful story of the triumph of the spirit. Born in Brooklyn, New York on June 30, 1917, she became a performer at the famous Cotton Club at 16. Stardom wasn’t far behind. In 1943, her sultry, moody rendition of Stormy Weather, from the film of the same name, became her trademark. Horne would win multiple Grammy Awards for singing, and Tony Awards for her performances on Broadway. By 1945, her voice, her beauty, and her electric stage presence had made her the highest paid African American entertainer in the nation.
Throughout her life, Horne stood up for justice. During World War II, Horne refused to sing for segregated audiences of troops, nor would she perform when the troops were split with whites in front rows and blacks in back. On one occasion, disgusted that black GIs were forced to sit behind German POWs, Horne walked through the audience to where the black troops were seated and performed with her back to the German prisoners. It was emblematic of her life.
Horne was outspoken in her call for equal rights. Her friendships with Paul Robeson, along with W.E.B. Dubois, landed Horne on Hollywood’s blacklist for a period of time — a list of celebrities and entertainers who were marked by HUAC for alleged communist ties. Still, her talent was far more powerful than rumors and innuendo, and she performed in night clubs and toured to sell out houses. She was recognized as a screen star and her demands — that she never be cast in the role of maid, for example — put Hollywood on notice that African American actresses would no longer endure the stereotypes they had played for decades. When Halle Berry became the first African American to win the Best Actress Academy Award in 2009, she noted that her victory was for those women who came before her, including Dorothy Dandridge and Lena Horne.
It is a tribute to the indefatigable spirits of these women that they are remembered not only for their tremendous gifts, but for their determination in the face of a society that pitted so much against them based solely on their color. African American actors, singers, and musicians today owe a debt of gratitude to this group of women for clearing a path toward equality.
Some skin experts, like New York City-based facialist Joanna Vargas, are incorporating them into treatments to help repair the damage caused by the sun and pollution. And even if your budget doesn’t call for a spa day, you can still enjoy these benefits at home.
To find out how we can detox this autumn for glowing, healthy looking skin, we investigated some of the best foods to eat this season and how they can be the post-summer treatment you need right now:
Dr. Stafford Broumand, associate clinical professor of plastic surgery at New York‘s Mount Sinai Medical Center, highly recommends pumpkin for your best skin ever. “Pumpkin has a high content of vitamin A and retinol is a derivative of vitamin A,” says Broumand. “Using this ingredient in its natural form delivers great benefits, such as exfoliation, repairing sun damage, post pigmentation, as well as improving texture and tone.” Create a face mask with pureed pumpkin, organic honey, a hint of lemon juice, and vitamin E oil for soothing results.
“Yams contain a compound called diosgenin, which is a natural plant-derived steroid that is thought to have both anti-inflammatory, as well as anti-aging properties,” explains Dr. Julia Tzu, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University. “In some laboratory studies, it has been found to increase cellular collagen production.”
This root vegetable, which is at its most tender until October, features fiber, keeping you feeling fuller, longer. They may also be the secret to getting your glow on this fall. “Beets reverse dull skin by stimulating the lymphatic system, removing waste from our cells,” says Dr. Jayson Calton. “Beets can also brighten your skin because they increase the oxygen-carrying ability in the blood, adding brightness to the skin.” Calton recommends savoring beet juice or a roasted beet salad this season.
Forget the canned versions. The tangy berry is best savored alone, especially if you’re looking to give your dull skin a much-needed boost. “I like cranberry for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Plus, they are rich in nutrients,” says Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery. If snacking on bitter berries aren’t your thing, consider looking for skincare products that feature cranberry.
“Apples contain many bioactive compounds, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties,” explains Tzu. “Studies have even demonstrated anti-cancer properties of apples, including those of the skin.” Go apple picking this autumn for a fun workout and enjoy the fruits of your labor all season long.
As with other seasonal foods, carrots feature beta-carotene, which can help protect skin against damage caused by wrinkle-causing ultraviolet rays. “Make a mask out of carrots to help alleviate blackheads and dark spots,” suggests Calton. “Simply boil carrots until soft and then mash. Add in honey, olive oil, and lemon. Leave on the face for about 15 minutes and rise. It’s also great for wrinkles.”
“Brussels sprouts contain high levels of collagen boosting vitamin C,” says Shemek. “Eating this cruciferous veggie can not only give you skin that has better elasticity, but skin that feels younger and more youthful looking.” If the idea of eating these mini greens makes you uneasy, take note that the way you prepare them determines how tasty they will be.
“Plum mixed with yogurt and honey in a mask will improve elasticity and correct any sun damage that we’ve suffered from summer,” Vargas says.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) turned 20. Many employers have finally come to terms with the major revisions to the FMLA regulations issued on November 17, 2008, which became effective on January 16, 2009. Now employers will also have to adjust their practices, policies and training to reflect additional revisions to the FMLA regulations adopted on February 6, 2013, which become effective on March 8, 2013. The most recent changes primarily address statutory changes signed into law in 2009, and include a number of significant changes, particularly with regard to military caregiver leave, exigency leave, and, although beyond the scope of this Alert, application of the FMLA to airline pilots and flight crews.
Significant changes pursuant to the newly adopted FMLA regulations include:
Expansion of the Availability of Exigency Leave to Support Members of the Regular Armed Forces: The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2008, which first provided for military caregiver and exigency leave, excluded family members of the active duty Regular Armed Forces from eligibility for exigency leave. The NDAA for Fiscal Year 2010 (signed on October 28, 2009) expanded coverage for exigency leave to include family members of the Regular Armed Forces on active duty. The new regulations implement this statutory change by clarifying that covered employees can include specified relatives of:
(1) Members of the Regular Armed Forces on duty while deployed to a foreign country (including international waters); or
(2) Members of the Reserves or National Guard while deployed to a foreign country under a federal call or order to active duty in support of a contingency operation.
This limitation of coverage to family members of reservists deployed to foreign countries in support of a “contingency operation” may be subject to legal challenges, however, since Congress removed similar language from the statute when it passed the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2010.
Expansion of Qualifying Exigencies to Include Parental Care: Under the 2008 regulations, covered employees could take leave for seven specified types of qualifying exigencies and additional unspecified exigencies if agreed to with their employers. The new regulations add a specified qualifying exigency in the form of parental care. Covered employees can take such leave to arrange for or provide care for the parent of a military service member where the parent is incapable of self-care and the covered active duty or call to covered active duty status of the military service member necessitates a change in the existing care arrangement for the parent.
Expansion of Right to Exigency Leave for Rest and Recuperation Leave: The 2008 regulations required employers to provide up to five days of leave to spend time with service members on short-term, temporary, rest and recuperation leave. The new regulations expand this requirement to up to 15 days of leave. Many states, including California, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington, also provide some form of state military family leave law, and employers must coordinate this new requirement consistently with any additional obligations under state law. (For example, California’s military spousal leave law requires employers to provide an additional — non-concurrent — 10 days of unpaid leave to employees who work an average of 20 or more hours per week and whose spouse or domestic partner is on leave from active military service.)
Clarification of Right to Exigency Leaves for Childcare and School Activities Based Exigency Leave: The new regulations do not change the fact that a qualifying exigency may include leave taken to provide childcare or arrange for school activities for a child for whom a military service member is a parent or with whom the military service member has an “in loco parentis” relationship. However they do clarify that the coverage of an employee, if any, is based on the employee’s relationship to the service member rather than the child. Accordingly, the fact that the employee stands “in loco” parentis to the military service member’s child does not permit coverage unless the employee is also the spouse, son, daughter or parent of the relevant service member.
Defining Covered Veterans for Purposes of Military Caregiver Leave: The new regulations reflect statutory changes to the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2010, which expanded the scope of military caregiver leave to include care for both covered service members and covered veterans. The new regulations define covered service members to include covered veterans who are undergoing medical treatment, recuperation or therapy for a serious injury or illness. The new regulations also define covered veterans as those released from the armed forces under conditions other than dishonorable any time during the five-year period prior to the first date the employee takes military caregiver leave to care for the veteran. The Department of Labor takes the position that the statutory changes to the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2010 did not require employers to offer leave to care for covered veterans before March 8, 2013, since no implementing regulations were in place. Based on that interpretation, the new regulations exclude the period between October 28, 2009 and March 8, 2013, from counting toward the determination of the five-year period for covered veteran status. Based on the position that employees were not entitled to FMLA leave to care for covered veterans without an implementing regulation, the preamble to the new regulations also sets forth the Department of Labor’s position that employers who provided military caregiver leave to employees to care for veterans prior to the implementation of the new regulations cannot count that leave against the employees’ military caregiver leave entitlement. This interpretation may be subject to legal challenges based on the 2009 statutory changes to the FMLA.
Military Caregiver Leave —Expanded Definition of Serious Injury or Illness: The new regulations expand the definition of a “serious injury or illness” to include preexisting conditions of service members that are aggravated in the line of duty while on active duty in the Armed Forces. They also expressly define the term “serious injury or illness” as applied to covered veterans. For covered veterans, a serious injury or illness includes injuries or illnesses incurred or aggravated in the line of duty on active duty in the Armed Forces, which manifested themselves before or after the affected individuals became a veteran, and which are: (1) a continuation of a serious injury or illness incurred or aggravated when the covered veteran was a member of the Armed Forces and rendered the service member unable to perform the duties of the service member’s office, grade, rank or rating; or (2) a physical or mental condition for which the covered veteran has received a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Service-Related Disability Rating (VASRD) of 50 percent or greater based, in whole or in part, on the condition precipitating the need for caregiver leave; or (3) a physical or mental condition that substantially impairs the covered veteran’s ability to secure or follow a substantially gainful occupation by reason of a disability or disabilities related to military service or would do so absent treatment; or (4) an injury, including a psychological injury, on the basis of which the covered veteran has been enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.
Certification Issues: The new regulations allow employers to request copies of a military service members’ Rest and Recuperation leave orders in support of requests for related Rest and Recuperation exigency leave. They also expand the types of healthcare providers who can certify a serious injury or illness, and permit second and third opinions where certifications are provided by health care providers who are not affiliated with the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, or TRICARE.
Employers should be careful to coordinate these new certification rules with any applicable state laws after consultation with competent employment counsel. For example, the California Family Rights Act, although not expressly providing for military caregiver leave, does prohibit employers from obtaining second or third opinions regarding the serious health conditions of family members and California generally has stronger privacy rights than those provided for under the FMLA.
In an effort to facilitate more flexibility, the Department of Labor has removed optional use forms from its appendices so that it can update the forms without going through the formal rulemaking process. Revised and new optional use forms include: (1) WH-381 Notice of Eligibility and Rights & Responsibilities; (2) WH-384 Certification of Qualifying Exigency for Military Family Leave; (3) WH-385 Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of Current Servicemember — for Military Family Leave; and (4) WH-385-V Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of a Veteran for Military Caregiver Leave. Employers subject to state family medical leave and/or military leave laws should not adopt the permissive forms without first conducting a legal review to ensure that they are adopted as necessary so as to avoid violating any state laws. (For example, California employers generally may not use FMLA forms requesting a diagnosis.) The forms are available here.
Clarification of Subtracting Time for Intermittent and Reduced Schedule Leave: The new regulations clarify that employers must track FMLA intermittent and reduced schedule leave using the minimum amount of time used to track any form of leave, which may not be more than an hour. They also re-emphasize the basic rule (with very narrow specified exceptions) that employers can only count the amount of leave actually taken against an employee’s leave entitlement. For example, an employer with minimum increments of leave in 15 minutes can charge an employee’s leave bank in 15-minute increments. However, if the employer charges an employee 30 minutes for an intermittent leave because it is closest to the amount of time needed, the employee should not work any of those 30 minutes. Within these parameters, employers can maintain systems in which the minimum increment used varies by time of day or shift, and can also use FMLA increments of leave that are smaller than minimum increments used for other types of leave.
Updated FMLA Poster: The Department of Labor has published an updated FMLA poster, which can be accessed here.
Miscellaneous Other Provisions: The new regulations contain various other provisions. These include, for example, the need to apply confidential recordkeeping requirements to documents covered by the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA), rules expanding the circumstances in which scheduled overtime may be counted against FMLA leave, and the clarification of the interplay between USERRA and FMLA rights.
Employers should prepare for the March 8, 2013, implementation date by updating their practices, forms, policies and training in light of these new regulatory requirements.
They are encouraged to consult with a Sedgwick LLP employment lawyer to help them in this process.
I think they should update FMLA … to paid leave, it helps everyone
The president called for a new vision for workplace policies related to leave.
These words are from my recent post on the Labor Department’s blog. Check out what Patricia Shiu, Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, had to say about the President’s message in her blog post on fair pay.
Sincerely, Latifa Lyles Acting Director, Women’s Bureau U.S. Department of Labor
40,000 New State Rules
Starting on Jan. 1
Greg Toppo, USATODAY
If you’re a pale 17-year-old in Illinois, get your indoor tanning sessions in now. Starting Wednesday, they’re strictly forbidden.
A new state law takes effect Jan. 1 that bans anyone under 18 from using tanning salons in the Land of Lincoln. Illinois becomes the sixth state to keep teens out of the facilities, part of a growing trend of regulating tanning facilities to help reduce the risk of skin cancer, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), a Denver-based group that tracks lawmaking.
The new measure is one of an estimated 40,000 new laws, regulations and resolutions approved by state legislatures in 2013, many of which take effect Jan. 1. Among them:
• Arkansas voters must now show a photo ID at polling places, while Virginia voters for the first time will be able to register online.
• In Colorado, 16-year-olds will be able to pre-register to vote, but must still wait until they’re 18 to vote.
• California students must be allowed to play school sports and use school bathrooms “consistent with their gender identity,” regardless of their birth identity.
• In Oregon, new mothers will now be able to take their placentas home from the hospital — some experts say ingesting it has positive health benefits. Another new state law bans smoking in motor vehicles when children are present.
Minimum-wage increases take effect in four northeastern states: Connecticut’s rises to $8.70 an hour; New Jersey’s to $8.25; and New York‘s and Rhode Island’s to $8. In nine other states, the minimum wage rises automatically because it’s indexed to inflation.
Perhaps most significantly, Colorado adults age 21 or older will be able on Wednesday to buy up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use from a state-licensed retail store. Marijuana advocates expect many of the new stores to be up and running by then, and observers say the new Colorado regulations are a sign of things to come.
“I think state legislatures will be faced with the marijuana issue” in 2014, says Jane Carroll Andrade, NCSL’s spokeswoman.
In Washington state, regulators are combing through more than 2,000 applications for similar stores after voters approved a similar measure in 2012, says Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). He expects the first Washington stores to open in a few months.
“Other states are watching Colorado and Washington because it will continue to come up,” Andrade says.
Armentano, who likens these developments to the state-led reversal of Prohibition in the 1930s, says a dozen states are due to debate marijuana legalization measures in the coming year or so. “The genie’s out of the bottle and it’s simply not going back in.”
Many new state laws take effect 90 days after they’re signed, but a few states, like California, Colorado, Illinois and Oregon, get extra attention this time of year because traditionally many laws in these states take effect on Jan. 1.
As a result, life changes a bit more radically for Illinois residents each new year: On Wednesday, in addition to the tanning measure, they’ll find that they can now return a pet or be reimbursed for veterinary costs if an illness was not disclosed by the seller. So-called “lemon pets” laws already exist in 21 states, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
in Illinois: Anyone who flicks a cigarette butt on a street or sidewalk could be fined at least $50 for littering; police must receive training on the psychological and physiological effects of stun guns, and penalties are now tougher for inciting a violent flash mob or riot via social media.
Illinois also becomes the 13th state to prohibit handheld cellphones while driving. Meanwhile, school districts on Jan. 1 will be able to install cameras on school buses to photograph drivers who pass them when buses are stopped. And school-based sex education must include information about both abstinence and contraception.
Illinois is also home to tough new laws prohibiting unmanned aerial drones. Come Wednesday, it’ll be illegal to use a drone to interfere with hunters or fishermen — and police must get a warrant to use a drone for surveillance, except in cases of terrorism or if a suspect is fleeing a crime scene. Even with the warrant, police must destroy information gathered within 30 days unless it’s linked to a crime, says Ed Yohnka of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.
Lawmakers in both parties overwhelmingly passed the new surveillance prohibition, he says. “They understood that it was something that could occur in the relatively near future, and so there was a desire to get on top of it.”
Contributing: The Associated Press and Reuters
What’s new Jan. 1
A sample of other state laws taking effect Jan. 1:
Colorado: Drivers will see a new annual $50 fee for plug-in electric cars. Colorado is one of several states looking to capture revenue from alternative fuel, electric and hybrid vehicles.•
Connecticut: New gun-control laws in the aftermath of the school shooting in Newtown include mandatory registration of all assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines bought before April 2013, and creation of a statewide registry that will track parolees whose crimes involved weapons.•
Delaware: Sale, possession or distribution of shark fins prohibited.•
Florida: Expanded early voting.•
Maine: Becomes the 48th state to require a check-off for organ donation on driver’s licenses to promote organ donation.•
Oregon: Privately run websites that feature police mug shots must take down photos for free if subjects can show they were not guilty or that charges were dropped.•
Rhode Island: Becomes the eighth state to enact a so-called “ban the box” law that prohibits prospective employers from inquiring into an applicant’s criminal history on written job applications.
Los Angeles start their grocery bag ban – gender id and bathrooms
Illinois : organizing a violent flash mob is banned/could be a felony
NC: • Owners of plug-in electric vehicles must pay a $100 registration fee in addition to any other fees -• Health care facilities that perform mammography exams must report breast density information to patients
California: Homeless youth are eligible to receive food stamps. The previous law had a minimum wage requirement.
Delaware: Delaware is the latest in a growing number of states where residents can no longer possess, sell or distribute shark fins, which is considered a delicacy in some East Asian cuisine.
Oregon: Family leave in Oregon has been expanded to allow eligible employees two weeks of pai d leave to handle the death of a family member.