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The 1978 Miss Black Ripley Pageant

9 Sep

Anyone remember The Miss Black Ripley Pageants?

As I have looked for information on them,  I cannot help but think of what a source of pride these pageants were for the Black community. Starting in 1977 with sponsorship by the Nathaniel Lodge No. 216 and coordinated by James T. Pitts of Pitts Barbershop, these pageants featured Black female contestants in a swimsuit competition, talent competition, formal wear competition, and a question and answer competition.

The first year of The Miss Black Ripley Pageant was 1977 with Jackie Springfield being crowned winner.

The second year, 1978, the pageant was coordinated by James T. Pitts with assistance from Linda Russell, Christine Shaw, and Linda Cooper. On April 16, 1978 at 6:00 pm the Ripley High School Little Theater hosted the pageant. It was also sponsored by The Nathaniel Lodge No. 216. The contestants of the 1978 pageant were Johnnie M. Parker, Mary Owens, Carolyn Graves, Rose Parker, Rose M. Bonds, and Geraldine Clay.

In 1978 the pageant was won by Geraldine Clay with Rose Bonds, Carolyn Graves, and Rose Parker as runner-ups.

New Miss Black Ripley 1978

New Miss Black Ripley 1978

          From The Lauderdale County Enterprise April 26, 1978 Edition

 The 1978 pageant booklet contains the names and advertisements of various additional sponsors and businesses such as Berg and Shafer, Thompson’s Mortuary, Pitts Barbershop, Malone’s Bar-B-Q, Rozelle Criner Furniture Company, Halls Flower and Gift Shop, and Montgomery and Son Plumbing among others. Stroll through the 1978 pageant booklet below.

– Tiffany

– Source: 1978 Miss Black Ripley Pageant Booklet, The Lauderdale County Enterprise April 26, 1978 edition

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Newspaper Clippings – The Southern Christian Advocate Nov 18, 1880

13 Oct

With the end of enslavement, many freedmen and women set out to find their family and friends that they were separated from. One method of doing so was to place ads in newspapers seeking information on lost loved ones. One of these ads with a Lauderdale County connection is below.

"Lost Friends" November 18, 1880 in the Southern Christian Advocate

“Lost Friends” November 18, 1880 in the Southern Christian Advocate

What is interesting about this ad to me is that it was written in 1880, fifteen years after the end of enslavement. This ad and the countless others like it exemplify not only the brutality of slavery, but also the resounding commitment of those searching to find loved ones that they were for forcibly separated from.

I encourage you to check out the collection of adverstisements featured in the Southern Christian Advocate newspaper through the Historic New Orleans Collection – Historic New Orleans Collection

 

Tiffany

Source: The Historic New Orleans Collection – http://www.hnoc.org/database/lost-friends/index.html, newspaper clipping featured in the Southern Christian Advocate Nov 18, 1880 edition.

Newspaper Clippings – The Indianapolis News September 19, 1873

20 Feb

The following article was featured in the Indianapolis News September 19, 1873 edition.

Indianapolis News Sept 19 1873

Indianapolis News Sept 19 1873

I wish that there was more available information about how she ended up in that predicament. I hope she was able to recover.

 

– Tiffany

– Source: The Indianapolis News September 19, 1873 edition

Miss Rice Park 1979

10 Aug

Anyone recognize any of these lovely ladies?

The Miss Rice Park competition was held in conjunction with a fashion show titled “Beautiful People in Fashions” to raise funds to improve Rice Park. Proceeds from this event went towards completing payments on a concession stand and tennis court construction. This event was held at Ripley High School and admission was $2 per person.

 

Miss Rice Park

Miss Rice Park – Lauderdale County Enterprise April 5, 1979 edition

Miss Rice Park Contestants – Cynthia Harris, Sharon Watkins, and Trenice Currie.

Little Miss Rice Park Contestants – Kenya Toles, Vera Thompson, and Angela Pierson

 

And for the winners…

Miss Rice Park Winners

Miss Rice Park Winners – Lauderdale County Enterprise April 12, 1979 edition

Little Miss Rice Park – Kenya Toles

Miss Rice Park – Cynthia Harris

 

 

 

– Tiffany

– Source: The Lauderdale County Enterprise April 12, 1979 edition, The Lauderdale County Enterprise April 5, 1979 edition

What About the Ladies?

23 Sep

“A survey of women workers for Tennessee in 1935 found that black female workers, most of them concentrated in West Tennessee, made a median wage of $5.65 a week in all occupations, less than half the median wage of white women” – Southern Labor and Black Civil Rights by Micheal K. Honey

So what were women doing to earn their $5.65 a week in Ripley? ($5.65 a week x 52 weeks in a year = 293.80 a year)

A quick look at the 1940 US Census reveals the occupations of those employed.

 

Ella Adams – Age 44, Laundress, 40 hours per week, Income in 1939 $250.00

Frances Claybrook – Age 19, Cook in a private home, 50 hours per week, income in 1939 $108.00

Nellie Alexander – Age 48, Cook/Maid in a private home, 54 hours per week, income in 1939 $198.00

Willie B. Alexander – Age 36 (been working 26 years), cook in a private home, income in 1939 $130.00 (worked 26 weeks)

Pearle Bands – Age 32, maid, 21 hours per week, income in 1939 $208.00

Jessie Henderson – Age 42, cook, 40 hours per week, income in 1939 $156.00

Laura Sullivan – Age 35, cook at a cafe, 60 hours per week, income in 1939 $250.00

Alcie Taylor – Age 50, laundress, 20 hours per week, income in 1939 $78.00

Ella B. Tyus – Age 32, laundress, 48 hours per week, income in 1939 $364.00

Magalena Vaughn – Age 50, cook, 42 hours per week, income in 1939 $260.00

As you can see from this small collection of ladies their yearly income varied. One even made it beyond the $5.65 per week mark. What stands out to me is that their occupations were basically the same. Cook, laundress, or maid were the occupations African American women could look for during this time. Could you imagine graduating from Lauderdale County High School, but having to become a maid or work in another position of servitude? Do any of you have oral histories from your family detailing how your grandmother or great grandmother made a living?

 

-Tiffany

– Source: 1940 US Census Records for Lauderdale County, Tennessee, Southern Labor and Black Civil Rights by Micheal K. Honey