Viewing page 24 of 33

Men of the Month

A POET AND PLAY-WRIGHT.

RIDGELY TORRENCE is a poet who has spent much of this life among colored people in southern Ohio and has come to know and understand them, though not in the sense in which hey are usually "understood" or even "loved" by their Southern white friends. Some of this knowledge he embodied in the three plays given last spring by the Negro Players and recently brought out in book-form ("Granny Maumee": Macmillan, $1.50) "The Rider of Dreams", a charming and poetic comedy; the inspired tragedy "Granny Maumee," the vivid story of an old Negro woman, whose son was burned by white men for a crime he did not commit; and the wonderfully beautiful passion interlude, "Simon the Cyrenian", whose hero, the black man who carried the cross for Christ, he portrays first as a revolutionist and liberator of Rome's slaves and later as the disciple, conquered by Christ's message of non-resistance.

The plays, unique and lovely as they are, do not, however, sum up Mr. Torrence's contribution to the Negro Theatre which gave to Negro actors their first chance at self expression in dignified and beautiful drama and revealed to a public hitherto incredibly blind the wealth of dramatic material inherent in the daily lives of colored people, as well as their remarkable dramatic power. The very fact of its existence is due to Mr. Torrence, with whom the idea originated some years ago, when he first tried to secure a production of "Granny Maumee" with colored actors. He failed at the time because the almost universal prejudice against them made such a performance impossible, but he never gave up the idea and was able to realize it last spring, through the backing of Mrs. Emilie Hapgood, under whose management the Players will open again this fall.

No white man has written of colored people more sympathetically than Ridgely Torrence. No one has done as much as he in opening up to them a new field of art, and none ever approached the people of another race in a more generous spirit.

A SECRETARY OF EDUCATION.

REV. J. A. BRAY, son of Andrew Jackson Bray, a prosperous and successful farmer of north Georgia, was born in 1871 in Franklin County near Carnesville, Ga. He received his early training in the rural schools of his native state, and attended also Knox Institute, an American Missionary School at Athens, Ga. In 1893 he received his A. B. from Atlanta University and in 1905 his A. M. In 1907 he received from Paine College the degree of D.D. and in 1909 from Wilberforce the degree of LL. D. he has also received credit from Harvard for summer work in philosophy and ethics.

Dr. Bray has served as pastor of some of the leading charges of his church, also as presiding elder for some years. His principal efforts have been in the educational work in the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church. He was the first Negro president of Lane College, Jackson, Tenn. After serving in this position for four years, he accepted the presidency of Miles Memorial College, Birmingham, Ala. In 1914, five years later, he was elected General Secretary of Education by the General Conference of the C.M.E. Church, which convened in St. Louis.

A MASTER OF ARTS.

MISS MARY E. CROMWELL is the daughter of John W. Cromwell of Washington, D. C. She was educated in the schools of her own city and then took her A. B. from the University of Michigan. Since then she has been a teacher of mathematics in the Dunbar High School. Miss Cromwell has always been intensely interested in social work. She spent two summers in New York doing Fresh Air work on San Juan Hill and was instrumental in starting the West Side Neighborhood Association. She has carried on philanthropic work in Washington for many years. Her especial interest has been the Penny Provident work. Probably no one in that city is more familiar than she with the alley life among the colored or more sympathetic with their efforts for thrift and betterment. She is a very active worker in the Washington branch of the N. A. A. C. P., and one spring, owing to the meetings held in her home, hundreds of new members were secured to the branch.

She received her Master's Degree this June from the University of Pennsylvania and is the first colored woman to be so hon-

256

257

MEN OF THE MONTH

[[images]]
7 total

[[captions]]
REV. C. M. TANNER.  MISS MARY E. CROMWELL.  THE LATE REV. J. E. SMITH.
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL YOUNG - A GALLANT SOLDIER.
RIDGELY TORRENCE.  ALDERMAN L. B. ANDERSON.  REV. J. A. BRAY.
Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact transcribe@si.edu.