TWO FRIENDS, TWO JOURNEYS, ONE BIRTHDATE

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1925 was a very good year for milestones: The Harlem Renaissance was in swing; Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington produced their first recordings; the first working television was invented;  Civil Rights icons Malcolm X and Medgar Evers were born; the first potato chip factory opened, thanks to African-American pre-Civil War chef George Crum; A. Philip Randolph organized the Brotherhood of Pullman Sleeping Car Porters; the popular song “Sweet Georgia Brown” was composed; and on December 16 of that year,  in Cairo, Georgia, “City of Hospitality,” Grace and Arch Weatherspoon gave birth to Jane Lee Weatherspoon (“Janilee”) and, in Asheville, N.C., “Land of the Sky,” Macon and Gertrude Roseboro welcomed Alma Roseboro.

Jitu Weusi muses with Alma Carroll during her birthday event.
Jitu Weusi muses with Alma Carroll during her birthday event.

Infants Alma and Janie shared more than a birthdate.  They were destined to marry jazz lovers, Joe “Bebop” Carroll (Alma) and Daniel Cal Green (Janie); live within two blocks of each other; help shape Central Brooklyn’s antipoverty programs of the ’60s; and become outspoken Bedford-Stuyvesant community organizers and education activists. 
At 84, they are still determined and fighting.  Pictured inside this issue  are Ms. Alma Carroll at her rousing afternoon birthday celebration with Jitu Weusi, the nationally known educator, community organizer and founder of Brooklyn Jazz Consortium, inside Herbert Von King Park’s Cultural Arts Center. (at left).

U.S. Congressman Edolphus  “Ed” Towns (NY-10) with and his wife, Gwendolyn Forbes Towns, visit Janie Green at her 84th birthday celebration.
U.S. Congressman Edolphus “Ed” Towns (NY-10) with and his wife, Gwendolyn Forbes Towns, visit Janie Green at her 84th birthday celebration.

And Mrs. Janie Green regales guests at a family-hosted Sunday church buffet and dancing birthday celebration, with U.S. Rep. Edolphus “Ed” Towns  (NY-10), chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and his wife, educator Gwendolyn Forbes Towns  at Eleanor Roosevelt Houses’ 400 Hart Street Community Center. 
Currently, Mrs. Carroll, working with community organizer Sydney Moshette Jr. of the Oldtimers Foundation, is committed to naming the amphitheater in Herbert Von King Park after the late educator Almira Coursey, who was instrumental in introducing Mrs. Green to Mrs. Carroll in 1965 at the then-newborn Bedford-Stuyvesant Youth-in-Action program. These pioneers were longtime board members of Community Board #3.  

Also, their late husbands Joe, the jazz great, and Danny, the jazz buff and collector, were close – if not best –  friends.
There was another milestone in 1925: Countee Cullen, sometimes quoted by  Mrs. Green, published Color, his first volume of verse.  That year, he wrote the following excerpted from I Have a Rendezvous with Life.
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I have a rendezvous with Life,
In days I hope will come,
Ere youth has sped, and strength of mind,
Ere voices sweet grow dumb.
I have a rendezvous with Life,
When Spring’s first heralds hum.
    Birthday well-wishers to both women included Assemblywoman Annette Robinson, Councilman Al Vann, Hon. Jim Sullivan, Rev. Taharka Robinson, Sydney Moshette Jr. and scores of other friends and community leaders.
  -Bernice Elizabeth Green