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Frederick Douglass: An Inspiration to the Rebounding Republican Party

By Maureen Grey

Maureen Grey

Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) was one of those historic figures who was always on the list of people to study for Negro History Week. Every American Black child knows or is supposed to know by second grade, especially if one attends a majority Black* student or faculty populated school.  Douglass seemed to be current looking – his hair was natural and long – which was in vogue.  Some of his suits looked like the one in Ebony magazine. His features were fiercely chiseled – which intimidated me as a child, but they expressed his passion to fight the establishment to gain equality – something that was a part of the 1960’s and 1970’s America my family had to learn about when we came to America.  So much was studied about him during those school days, but no one mentioned that he was a Republican – just like our President, Richard M. Nixon. Today, five Black Republicans have taken new seats in Congress.  This is just a sign of a rebounding Republican Party.

*Although African-American is more politically correct, I prefer to use Black as my racial nomenclature.  That was the term of my upbringing and most of my adulthood; and serves as a common descriptor for my two African diasporic cultures.

When I first came to this country from Jamaica W.I, Douglass’ picture would often be placed next to Lincoln’s on the school bulletin boards highlighting Negro History Week – that is what the commemoration of Black historical figures was called.  I still recall the bulletin board outside my first-grade classroom at St. Joseph’s Parish Day School in Queens Village, NY (Demolished, 2022).  I recognized Martin Luther King, Jr., because he had just been killed, but the others I did not recognize. Those were all the American heroes.  I was hoping to see the great Jamaican hero, Marcus Garvey, but he was not there.  In second grade, we took days to cut silhouettes of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington from black construction paper so as to commemorate their February birthdays.  We placed the silhouettes around the room and on the classroom bulletin board.  Sometimes, we cut silhouettes for Frederick Douglass, but those were put on the Negro History Week bulletin board in the hallway.  Over the years, we all learned that he was a runaway slave who became an eloquent orator for the emancipation of slaves despite not having a formal education.  After writing several books such as the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, he was able to purchase his freedom from the proceeds.  Ever promoting abolition of slavery, Douglass encouraged several northern abolitionist groups to pressure Congress to end slavery. Prior to and during the Civil War, Douglass  persuaded Lincoln to allow the enlistment of Blacks to fight in the Civil War. We also learned that Douglass was President Lincoln’s friend.  But that was mostly all that was emphasized.  No one mentioned that he was a New York Republican.

America the Beautiful

Kristina Raevsky

America, land of the free and home of the brave. Our country was founded on inalienable principles that we still cherish today – freedom, democracy, and capitalism. America is unlike any country in the world, and it is crucial that people understand and appreciate all the things that make America so special. America’s founding fathers were willing to achieve independence at any cost. The stakes could not be higher, yet heroes like George Washington and John Adams stood up to Great Britain and showed the true embodiment of patriotism. Like many patriots before me, I love our country. America is the land of opportunity, a place where if you work hard, you can accomplish anything, and a beacon of hope for millions of people around the world. My parents’ success story is the result of hard work and perseverance, but most importantly, the great American Dream. They each came to America with nothing, but because America is the land of opportunity, they were able to make it in this world, and become successful professionals who provided an excellent foundation for me to succeed as well.

How the Party of Lincoln Will Save the American Republic

The new year of 2023 begins with America mired in several created crises caused by the massive policy failures of Joe Biden and the increasingly radicalized Democrat Party. Specifically, Americans confront the reality of a de-facto open border, a miserable economy that punishes working-class families, and toxic cultural pollution that invades key aspects of public life, especially schools.

“Every Election is Determined by the People Who Show Up” – Our Vote Matters!

By Aura Moody

Dear Freedom Fighters:

Recently, several New York State Supreme Court Judges have rendered decisions in favor of the unvaccinated. It is not a coincidence that these judges are Constitutionalists. 

Let’s not forget the pain and loss we have endured during the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of the unconstitutional vaccine mandates. In my opinion, what has transpired is a direct result of what happens when we are apathetic about politics and voting. It is time for us to consider which party embraces freedom, aligns with our values and protects our interests.

Could There Be A Shake Up At The RNC?

By Taisha Parrott

The Republican National Committee (RNC) will hold its annual winter meeting in California where committee members will vote to elect the next chairman on January 27, 2023. The committee is made up of 168 men and women, three from each state. The elected chairman will lead the RNC through the 2024 presidential election. Vying for that seat are incumbent Ronna McDaniel; Mike Lindell, MyPillow CEO and staunch supporter of President Trump; and Harmeet Dhillon, an RNC member and lawyer whose firm represents President Trump.

Dangerous Bills Proposed by NYS Legislature

It is undisputed that public officers including elected officials from all three branches of government take an oath of fidelity to the Constitution or office they represent not to a political party or agenda, and they are expected to uphold and defend it. On the other hand, We The People expect our elected officials to protect our constitutional rights and represent us fairly when making decisions that affect our lives. 

As you know, the New York State Legislature is scheduled to begin sessions on January 5, 2023 in Albany, New York. There is a list of controversial bills that are being proposed by Legislators that will trample upon our constitutional rights and freedoms. Therefore, I am reaching out to you to express my strong opposition to all bills that violate medical freedom and parental rights, among others. Some of these bills are: 

What the Left Doesn’t Want Black People to Know About the Republican Party

By Aura Moody
Part 1

It is no coincidence that the left wants to rewrite American history with regard to the Republican Party, slavery and the civil rights movement. Leftists and mainstream media have been misinforming and misleading the public about the conservative policies that have been enacted and implemented by the Republican Party. In order to debunk their narrative, it is imperative that we educate ourselves by doing our research on the numerous endeavors the Republicans have successfully pioneered to uplift the Black community in the United States of America.

The Republican Party was founded in 1854 in a schoolhouse in Wisconsin by anti-slavery activists who opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Its purpose was to counter the Democrats’ plan to expand slavery. Republicans have been the champions for the civil rights of Blacks since the moment President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves to the present time. They have advocated and provided opportunities for Blacks to attend college and become successful citizens, among other achievements.

Below is a list of actions that the Republicans have undertaken to ensure equal opportunities and make a positive difference in the lives of Blacks:

1. In 1865, Republicans under the Presidency of Republican Abraham Lincoln passed the 13th Amendment, which ended slavery.

2. In 1865, Republicans drafted the bill “40 Acres and a Mule”, saying that newly freed Black people should get 40 acres and a mule, but Democrat President Andrew Johnson blocked it, denying former Black slaves the ability to generate financial self-sufficiency.

3. Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which gave Blacks the right to buy and own property. 

4. In 1866, Republicans passed the 14th Amendment, which granted citizenship to Blacks, including formerly enslaved people.

5. In 1869, Republicans passed the 15th Amendment, which gave Blacks the right to vote.

6. Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act of 1871 to protect Blacks from the Ku Klux Klan.

7. Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which gave Blacks the right to serve on a jury.

8. In 1901, shortly after moving into the White House, Republican President Theodore Roosevelt invited his adviser Booker T. Washington to dine with him and his family. This was the first time a Black person dined in the White House.

9. In 1954, Republicans endorsed and supported Brown vs Board of Education, outlawing segregation in public schools. Although this case was settled by the Supreme Court, Southern schools remained segregated for 16 years. It was in 1970 that Republican President Richard Nixon accomplished the total desegregation of the schools. 

10. In 1957, Republican President Dwight Eisenhower sent in the Federal troops to escort nine Black kids who entered Little Rock’s Central High School in Arkansas for the first time. This is known as the “Little Rock Nine.”  

11. Republicans passed the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960, which increased the protection of Blacks’ voting rights. 

12. Republican Senator Everett Dirksen co-wrote the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and he helped that law get passed. Most Republicans voted in favor and the Democrats opposed.

13. In 1976, Republican President Gerald Ford officially declared February as Black History Month.

14. In 1983, Republican President Ronald Reagan signed into law the bill that made Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday a national holiday.

15.  The following Historically Black Colleges and Universities, among others, have been founded and funded by Republicans: Shaw University in 1865, Fisk University in 1866, Howard University in 1867, Morehouse College in 1867, Meharry Medical College in 1876 and Spelman College in 1881. 

16. In 1991, Republican President George H. W. Bush nominated the first Black male Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who is still serving as an Associate Justice in the United States Supreme Court.

17. In 2004, Republican President George W. Bush nominated Condoleezza Rice as the first Black woman to serve as United States Secretary of State.

18. In 2018, Republican President Donald Trump signed into law a Criminal Justice Reform bill called the First Step Act, which has helped Blacks who received unfair prison sentences.   

19. In 2019, Republican President Donald Trump signed a bill that will permanently provide more than $250 million a year to the Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

20. In 2021, Republican Senator John Cornyn wrote and helped to pass a bill making Juneteenth a national holiday. Juneteenth marked the end of slavery.

Democrats in cahoots with the mainstream media portray Republicans as racists. Obviously, this is not the case. Republicans’ actions on behalf of Blacks, as stated above, speak louder than words and contradict the Democrats’ false accusations.

Surprised by this information? Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article in our next issue!

Vision Statement on the One-Year Anniversary of the Queens County Beacon

By Ira Harris

For a number of years, I’ve been discussing a project to put current events, and the opinions of fellow citizens on the issues of the community, to print. With all the issues that impact our lives, from crime, inflation, to what’s being taught in our schools, the voices of the citizens especially here in Queens County, need to be expressed.

The Queens County Beacon, the newspaper published and distributed by the Queens Village Republican Club, is that vehicle. Now, as we celebrate the one-year anniversary of our newspaper, that vision is moving forward, through our readership, our volunteer distributors, our advertisers, graphic designers, and our opinionated writers and editors with a newfound flair for citizen journalism.   

As one of the founders of the Queens County Beacon, I  and other like-minded patriots felt the need to fill a vacuum left by the Republican Party in our County and State. We believed there was an urgent need for such a grassroots courier of the people, so after years of talking, years of inaction on the part of Republican leadership, the Queens County Beacon was born in January 2022.    

With informative articles, opinion pieces, pictures, book reviews, word puzzles, reflections on recent events such as BBQs, club meetings, galas, and even a local Queens history page, we are showing the public that we can have fun, camaraderie, and address important policy issues at the same time. We are also busting the myths about Republicans, showing the public that we are your neighbors, friends, fellow worshippers, from every race, creed, and national origin, with shared values, united under our flag with love of country.

As this project moves into its second year, the enthusiasm has gained steam from fellow Republicans and readers throughout Queens, starving for a newspaper that touches their core values, patriotism, and the founding principles of our country.  This enthusiasm has created a steady flow of contributors, writers, a network of volunteer distributors, loyal advertisers, who see the need to support our free newspaper, in order to grow and touch more hearts and minds.

With delighted readers giving us words of appreciation and positive feedback, contributing articles and opinion pieces, new advertisers and sponsors coming on board, a bright future lies ahead for the Queens County Beacon. As Republicans and patriotic citizens, we need to look at the glass as half full, not half empty. Our victories are to be savored, our new relationships held dear to our hearts, our beacon of hope and freedom to shine forth, all to ensure brighter days are ahead for Queens County, New York State, and America.

Carrying the Torch for the Republican Party

By Phil Orenstein
President, Queens Village Republican Club

Lt. Col. Allen West speaking at Lincoln Dinner

Years ago, former Congressman Lt. Col. Allen West, gave an encouraging message to the Queens Village Republican Club: “As the oldest GOP club in America, it is your duty to carry the torch for the Republican Party and its core principles for the whole nation.” Since he spoke those words as keynote speaker at our 2009 Lincoln Dinner, we have accomplished a great deal on a path to a brighter future for Queens and beyond. The latest election results show that many parts of Queens flipped from Democrat to Republican over the past few years (see diagram below). In Queens County where Democrats outnumber Republicans 6 to 1, many people got tired of the Democrat’s lies, false promises, crime, and chaos. They saw reality and voted accordingly.

Rebirth of Deferred Dreams: Preserving Southeast Queens, NY

By Maureen Grey

The former St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church

This Christmas, 2022 was very difficult. It was the first Christmas in which the buildings of my former church and my elementary school did not exist.  Besides the few Christmases I spent in Jamaica, W.I., Christmas was always associated with St. Joseph’s.  My first year in the country as a first grader, I was asked to sing in the choir.  I was dressed as an angel.  I remember my mother trying so hard to make my tinsel wings look real.  As I got older, I was asked to be the narrator of the Christmas story.  I remember the long rehearsals and all the pointers on how to speak well.  Today, as an educator, I still use those skills learned so long ago in that wooden church with the Noah’s Ark ceiling in Queens Village.  It is so hard to see the space where so many memories were made – empty. It is as if the lives of all those who were members have been “Gone with the Wind.”  But like Scarlet, a new  day has arisen with a new determined hope to fulfill deferred dreams by creating a historical and preservation historical society in Southeast Queens so that such a destruction of buildings and history will not happen so easily.

Demolition of beloved places or institutions can be life ending,  but it can also be a means of bringing new life and vigor to fulfill a legacy and act upon delayed dreams. Reviving one’s dreams in December is so appropriate because it is the month where so many celebrate the miracle of light burning in a Temple lamp longer than expected and celebrate the miracle of a newborn who brought light into the world.  Revived dreams seem alive in December, but the true test comes in January – in a new year – when delayed dreams are allowed to become reality.

One of those delayed dreams is the creation of a society or association to  find, preserve, and disseminate the history and contributions of the residents of Southeast Queens.  Such an organization could rally residents in greater numbers to fight for building preservation and historical recognition – what I hoped would have materialized in 2020 when it was announced during its 150th Anniversary that the St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church buildings may have to be demolished to make way for an income producing entity, such as affordable housing.  But the landmarking/preservation organization did not materialize due mainly to separation during Covid-19, lack of knowledge of how to create such a group, fear, inadequate contact information of members and alumni, and lack of faith.

With the demolition of the 127-year-old building – the second oldest church in Queens Village – in October, the need to form an historical and preservation association for not just St. Albans or Queens Village, but also for the entire Southeastern Queens became paramount in the hearts and minds of those who are tired of dreams deferred and delayed. The dream was fulfilled on December 8 when  twelve people attended an Interest Meeting to explore the establishment of a historical society.

The Interest Meeting for the Historical and Preservation Society which was held at the newly opened Global Outreach Deliverance Church 193-17 Linden Blvd., St. Albans, New York.  The church opened in late 2022 as a means of helping the community in addition to offering religious guidance under the leadership of Bishop Melvin Artis is located in a historic building – the St. Albans Chamber of Commerce Building. Hosting the Historical Society’s meeting until a more permanent space is found is just one of those ways of servicing the needs of  Southeast Queens, especially St. Albans. 

Road to Interest Meeting

Although it seems like overnight, the idea in earnest to create a society goes back to 2017 when Oster Bryan, M.A., president of the St. Albans Improvement Civic Association, allowed me to make a few remarks at the Civic monthly meeting about the history of St. Albans and the need to promote it.  The 100th Anniversary of the St. Albans Branch of the Queens Public Library, also encouraged me to  research St. Albans – and not just Addisleigh Park – which is richly documented and landmarked.  I even walked Linden Blvd to find the first library building in what I call downtown St. Albans, from the LIRR train station to Farmers Blvd and Linden Blvd. intersection. Realizing that some buildings are still standing, encouraged me to continue researching my hometown with the hopes that a historical society could take on the work.

Another source of inspiration were the comments made by members of the St. Albans Civic In 2020, I became more active in the St. Albans Improvement Civic Association and made presentations on events that led to the development of St. Albans. During those meetings, I mentioned the need for a historical society that catered to St. Albans and the rest of Springfield (Southeast Queens) so as to document the contributions of residents before we are all gone and new residents think that African Americans contributed little to St. Albans history.

The St. Albans Library research prompted me to find the first civic building erected in 1904 by the Ladies Social Society – the Square Club.  Delightfully, the building was still there!  The wooden shingles are gone but the building is still standing-this time serving as a church – St. Albans First Church of God in Christ. Ironically the women of the Ladies Social Society led Sunday School classes in the Square Club and helped to raise funds for the first church built in St. Albans.

In late 2021,  I contacted Superintendent  William T. Armstead, pastor of St. Albans First Church of God in Christ, to find out if he had a history on the building and the church located at 187-10 Baisley Blvd.  He said that he had some artifacts, but there was no history book.  Nearly a year later, on October 13 to 14,  I made a presentation on the history of the role of the Square Club – what the civic building had been called.  The parishioners were so excited to see the pictures of the social club building before it became a church. The following week I found out that the 14th of October was the start of demolition at St. Joseph’s.  I realized that this was a full circle moment. The torch to save other buildings had been passed. Pastor Armstead who is currently completing his doctorate,   appointed Ms. Kiswana Clark as a historical liaison to attend the Interest Meeting and future meetings.

The Meeting

After Bishop Artis opened the meeting with a convocation, the attendees were welcomed and introduced.  Some attendees brought souvenirs and talked about them briefly. The attendees also answered trivia questions on the history of Southeast Queens, and a brief overview of the items on the display table which included several poster boards of Queens Village, St. Joseph’s Church, and the oldest civic building in St. Albans-the Square Club. 

The attendees included James Trent, noted preservationist and Oster Bryan, President of the St. Albans Improvement Civic Association out of which this society is growing.  Those in attendance represented many areas of and races in Queens such as Bellerose, Queens Village, Jamaica, St. Albans, and the historically landmarked neighborhood Addisleigh Park – the second most important area in regards to the history of the Harlem Renaissance.  Careers of the  attendees varied from historian to lawyer, computer engineers to educators, and religious leaders to social workers and entrepreneurs.

Meeting Happenings

Although there was an agenda the discussion was fluid often interspersed with local history and personal stories of events in St. Albans, Jamaica (Negro burial ground) or with how the Queens Farm (Little Neck Parkway) was saved from development,  many of those in attendance, including myself, have not started an organization whose purpose is to preserve the history of buildings, stories, and lives of a neighborhood. But there was so much excitement and new ideas about being an economic contributor that the fears seemed to have been allayed.

Southeast Queens is a predominately African American area which is experiencing other racial groups – mainly from parts of the eastern Caribbean, Asia, Southeast and South Asia, and European-Americans.  It was emphasized this is the time to urgently find the history of the African American lives in Southeast Queens before all the witnesses to the rich history have moved or passed away and future generations will think that not much was accomplished over the past 70 years.

What towns make up Southeast Queens

There is ongoing discussion as to what towns will be considered Southeast Queens, the following areas are generally considered to be part of Southeast Queens: Bellaire, Brookville, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Holliswood, Jamaica, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Meadowmere, Queens Village, St. Albans, Cambria Heights, Laurelton. Rochdale, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens, South Jamaica, Warnerville and Elmont (Nassau County)

Tentative Mission

Attendees discussed the proposed mission statement and purposes of the Society. The tentative mission includes but not limited to:  Promoting the importance of Southeast Queens by emphasizing the lives of First Nations indigenous peoples, “Old Immigrants,” African slaves, children of the African diaspora and all immigrants by emphasizing their roles and contributions in developing Long Island, New York City, New York State, and the United States economically, politically, and socially.  This is not the finalized mission statement, but it will serve as a blueprint for discussion at future meetings.

What exactly will the group do…? A work in progress

Besides the mission statement, there was a brief discussion about the tentative purposes of the Historical Society.   This is an ongoing discussion. Some suggested purposes are as follows:

Tentative Purposes: 
– Document, present, promote, and preserve the history of Southeast Queens
– Educate the community of the history of the area buildings, institutions, businesses, and history – making persons through field trips, presentations, and lectures
– Promote preservation of individual, business, and community artifacts
– Identify and landmark historical buildings/areas in the area
– Establish a permanent center to exhibit artifacts and educate the community.

How to Start an Historical Society

The question that concerned us was how does one start a historical society.  James Trent, historian for the Queens Village Republican Club and president of the 325-year-old Queens Farm Museum and the Poppenhusen Institute, offered several types of organizations from a benevolent association to a nonprofit.  He also mentioned several historical societies in Queens from which the Society could get advice. Most attendees were unaware of many of these historical societies, however there was not one historical society created for the study of Springfield, the area which encompasses much of present-day Southeast Queens. 

As was mentioned in the meeting, Southeast Queens has suffered from a lack of resources and knowledge about starting civic organizations because of little printed public communication, community unity, and a tradition of little political engagement on civic matters on the part of many residents who often are working several jobs so as to pay the increasing property costs.  James Trent, who has several year’s experience in civic and historic groups,  encouraged the attendees to persevere by finding courage to fight.  Trent sternly said that nothing that he has done to help save the Queens Farm was easy.  It takes a lot of work. He stressed that “political will” is needed if one wants to see any type of change in one’s quality of life and political issues.

Two hours Later…

After about two hours, the meeting ended without everything on the agenda being discussed, but there was so much enthusiasm about learning historical information and organizational skills and brainstorming that it was expected not all on the agenda would be reached.  As a parting gift, attendees took home potatoes, apples, carrots, onions, and candies-all examples of what was grown or produced on the Springfield farms.

Who can be in the group?

Anyone may join, especially if you have an interest in history, preservation, business acumen, and curiosity.

Future Meetings

A new birth requires more dedicated members. We invite everyone to consider joining this group.  The Society is planning on meeting after the holidays in late January.  If you are interested in getting information about the next meeting, please email me at alumnicommunitynews@gmail.com

On behalf of all who attended the Interest meeting, we are looking forward to seeing you in January.

Maureen Grey is a lifelong teacher, neighborhood historian and preservationist, who led the fight to landmark St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church and other historic buildings.

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