by Donald Meineke
Each February, the nation marks the remarkable contributions and accomplishments made by our Black-American siblings, many of whom had to overcome slavery, persecution, discrimination, and adversity. This Sunday, the Episcopal Church commemorates Absalom Jones (1746 – Feb. 13, 1818), the first African-American man ordained a priest in the United States. As a recent resident of Mt. Airy who regularly catches the train to Center City from the Allen Ln. stop, I was elated to learn that Richard Allen, for whom the street and station are named, was a close friend of Absalom Jones and was consecrated the first bishop of the then newly formed African Methodist-Episcopal Church in 1816. For more reading on both Absalom Jones and Richard Allen, enjoy this brief article.
But let's talk music. Florence Price is a name that was only recently received into the canon of American classical musicians. Born in 1887 as a Little Rock, Akransas native, daughter of a black dentist and white music teacher, Price graduated with honors from the New England Conservatory (having passed as Hispanic by listing her home town as “Pueblo, Mexico”) with degrees in organ performance and piano teaching, in addition to studying composition.
After returning to Little Rock and marrying a local lawyer, they eventually made their way to Chicago as racial tensions heightened with the impact of the Jim Crow laws, leaving Price unable to secure acceptance into the state Music Teachers Association. A public lynching, of John Carter in 1927, was what finally spurred their move.