Activities Among Negroes

By Delilah L. Beasley

The largest dinner ever served in the Linden street branch of the Oakland Y. W. C. A. was the turkey dinner served Wednesday evening by the Alameda County League of Colored Women Voters. This league has been in existence since 1911, but this was its first public dinner. It was well attended by members of the race, many society matrons reserving tables for dinner parties honoring out-of-town guests.  A large number of men prominent in public affairs attended, among whom were E. Clarence Holms and Charles Lutz and party from Berkeley and Mr. Mullen and party and Mr. DeCota and a party of 12 from Oakland and San Francisco.

The league served several hundred people between the hours of 5 and 8:30. The success of the affair was due largely to the cooperative spirit of the league members under the leadership of Mrs. Hettie B. Tilghman, the president,  and Mesdames Frank Henry, Lydia Jackson, Malvina Williams and Dr. Wilson, Mrs. Derrick, Mrs. DeHart, and other members of the league. Just as the dinner had been sold out and everybody preparing to go home, in walked Colonel Barrows and party. The league members and friends remained and asked  him to address them on the water question confronting the Eastbay cities.

It might be of interest to the reader to relate that the League of Colored Women Voters were anxious to have Colonel Barrows address them for more reasons than one. First, because he comes from a family that for generations have been friends to the negro race. His mother's father, John Cole, was a lifelong opponent of American slavery.  He was a member of the Buffalo convention for founding the party which announced the platform of free soil, free speech and free men. They were known as the Free Soil party. His mother, Ella Cole Barrows, was a volunteer nurse during the last year of the Civil war at the Cavalry Corps hospital at Old Point Comfort, Va. She accompanied President Lincoln's party into Richmond after the fall of the Confederate capital. She spent the years immediately after the war in work for colored people in the city of Washington, D. C., and was a life-long friend of General Oliver O. Howard, who founded the Freedmen's bureau and for whom Howard University for colored young men and women in Washington, D. C., is named.

His uncle, John C. Cole of Chicago, has for many years been a trustee of Howard University, and is one of the benefactors of that foremost university for colored people in the United States. With such a family tree of benefactors of the negro race, these colored women voters of Alameda County  League were doubly anxious to have Colonel Barrows address them. They were also anxious to have him address them because Colonel Barrows was in 1912 the president of the City Club of Berkeley, the object of the club being to create a district for an adequate water supply for the Eastbay cities. This club of colored women voters is an actual study club of political issues, and they thought that since he served as chairman of the executive committee representing sixty civic and improvement societies of the Eastbay cities that supported the legislation known as the Public Utility District Act of 1915, he should be in a position to tell them something of interest on the present water question.

They asked Colonel Barrows to address them on the water question. He replied: "I think I would prefer talking on my recent trip to Africa than on water, since it is raining in torrents at the present moment." He then gave an intensely interesting talk on "Central and West French Africa." But the league members were sincere in wishing to hear him on the water question, and the president, acting as spokesman, said: "Colonel Barrows, the ladies know it is late and you are tired, but won't you tell us something about this question which is of such vital interest to us all, the water question for the Eastbay cities?" Colonel Barrow then gave a short talk on the development and rapid advancement of the Eastbay cities and added "The future development depends on an abundant supply of pure fresh water." He outlined the recent report of the board of engineers and concluded by stating "The water supply is a service which should be under a leadership and trusteeship free from personal interest and above political consideration. It should be municipally owned."

Mrs. Harriett Curtis-Hall, the wife of Dr. John B. Hall of Boston, is the nominee for the legislator of the Roxbury district of Boston, She has been regularly nominated and endorsed by the Republican party of that city. She has a national reputation covering many years as an earnest worker for "Votes for Women." After women secured the right of franchise she later worked with Mrs. Calvin Coolidge in the sale of Liberty Bonds and in promoting measures of state and national value. She has a large circle of friends in Oakland who wish her success.

The October issue of the New Day Informer (the journal of opinion) published in Oakland, has many worthwhile articles by local people. Among them appears one from the pen of Mrs. H. E. DeHart, secretary of the Northern California branch of the N. A. A. C. P., on the "Obligation and Responsibility of Parents." She has a long well-written article that is full of food for thought. It is a worthwhile article and could with profit be published in pamphlet form.

Another article which the writer considers a genuine contribution to negro uplift is one in this magazine by  Mrs. Vivan Osborn-Marsh A. M. of Berkeley. She has made a survey of the material from her forthcoming book on negro folk lore. Mrs. Marsh has been engaged for years in research work on the subject under the supervision of one of the professors at the University of California

Another article appearing in this publication is the essay on "The Constitution of the United States" that was delivered by a high school girl, Tabytha Anderson of San Francisco, last spring, and which won for her second place in the state contest.

The A. M. E. Zion church conference for the Pacific coast is holding its deliberations in Vallejo this week. Rev. Lovell, of Campbell Street church of Oakland, and Rev. Byers of San Francisco are members of this conference. Many laymen from California, Oregon and Washington are in attendance. Bishop Martin, one of the recently elected bishops, is presiding.

Professor J. J. Walker and a band of colored orphan boys from Charleston, South Carolina, have been giving concerts in Oakland during the past week. They are from the Jenkins Orphanage. Every year a number of these boys tour the country so many months out of the year for the educational benefit of travel. They have a band and an orchestra, and sing negro spirituals well.



ACTIVITIES AMONG NEGROES BY DELILAH L. BEASLEY 19 Oct 1924, Sun Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California)