Education of Black Children in 19th Century Albany

Albany School for Educating People of Color

AfricanFreeSchoolWhile looking for something else, I came across something very interesting on the Albany County, NY webpage. It was a document titled The Struggle for Education of Black Children in 19th Century Albany.

“Albany Common Council laws were rigid in their allowances of land and financial aid for schools for ‘children of color,’ so leaders in the black community decided to use their own land and places of worship for this purpose.

“In 1811, Benjamin Lattimore purchased a lot on Malcolm Street (now known as Broad Street) from Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, the widow of
Alexander Hamilton. On this lot, the first ‘Albany School for Educating People of Color’ was established.” Other schools followed. The article documented the work of Lattimore, Thomas Paul Junior, and John Quincy Allen.

“By July 1845, a new public elementary school house for black children was built at 37 Chestnut Street at a cost of $830 to the city. The Wilberforce School, named after a British abolitionist, became the only public school that black children could attend until 1873, when the law was changed to accept them into the Albany Public School system…

“The Wilberforce School closed in 1873, after desegregation of New York State schools. It was renamed School 16 and was located where the Empire State Plaza is currently located. In 1906, the school was moved to the Pine Hills neighborhood and is now the Pine Hills Elementary School.”

This was a fascinating piece of local history I had not come across. School 16 was torn down in 2005 and replaced by the current Pine Hills Elementary School, which my daughter attended from first through sixth grade.


I went to the New York State Department of Education website to retrieve current data about the Albany City School District.

In the 2020-2021 school year, the most recent data provided, I found this:



HISPANIC OR LATINO   – 1,613 (20%)
WHITE – 1,565 (19%)
MULTIRACIAL – 553 (7%)
Yet the Census data for 2020 notes that the population breakdown for the city of Albany is 52% white, 26% black, and 7% Asian. Hispanics, who can be of any race, are 10% of the population.
Albany has 98,617 people (2020 Census), 11.9% of which were under 18 but over 5, or about 11,735 children of school age. The Albany City School District had 8,610 kids.  
One of the quirks of Albany is that it has long had several nonpublic schools.  There are data for this that my computer won’t open, but one can infer the trendline. A bit of irony, I think.

Mom was born with a veil?

Ten Commandments

Trudy.Green_dressAmong the tales I heard about my mother was that she was born with a veil in November 1927. What’s that? According to this article: An en caul birth — or veiled birth, “as they’re also referred to -… [are] incredibly rare… where the baby is born encased in their amniotic sac.” It is a medical anomaly, estimated to occur “in less than one out of 80,000 live births.”

That’s somewhat interesting but nearly as much as the other part. “As is the case with many rare events, en caul births are thought to be a sign of good fortune…

“Susan B. Martinez, author and paranormal researcher with a doctorate in anthropology, writes: ‘The veil, it was believed…, protects its bearer against danger; thus was it superstitiously gathered and preserved as a valuable charm against malevolent spirits. The caul… made one ‘special,’ even destined for greatness.'”

Apparently, the veil was broken, and my mother was happy and relieved about this. She did not want the power.

Her mother, Gert, was very much into fortune-telling and the occult. Yet Gert sent her daughter to the Oak Street Methodist Church. My sisters and I were musing on why. Maybe it was socialization, or perhaps it was to keep the child occupied for a few hours while the mother delved into the dark arts. Of course, we have no way of knowing.

The power

Yet there were at least a couple of times when my mother experienced unexplainable phenomena. One was when a voice told her to stop the car, which avoided an accident.

Another time, I wrote in 2015 about the house my mother grew up in. “I DID need the space heater… and the colorful quilt that kept me from freezing.

“One night in February [1975], I woke up with a start. The quilt had caught fire, having fallen on the space heater. It generated an acrid stretch, which might have killed me if the fire, which I could somehow smother, hadn’t.

“A day or two later, I called my mom in North Carolina and told her this story. And she told me that she knew this had happened. She woke up from a dream or a vision, she called me mentally to wake up, and I did. This is NOT the type of tale my mother generally told, so I believed her, believe her still.”

The church

For someone who attended church for decades, my mom had an odd lack of theological curiosity about her faith. When sister Leslie asked her what she thought “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” meant to her, she really didn’t seem to have an idea. My more pointed questions about her declaration that she just “followed the Ten Commandments” were without much context. Yet she attended Bible study reasonably often.

Moreover, she was highly active in the church both in Binghamton, NY, and later in Charlotte, NC. She was very sociable and sought responsible positions in the congregation.

My mom passed away a dozen years ago today, and yet she as much an enigma to me as she was the day she died.

The Bloganuary 2023 questions

lilacs, laundry, Chinese

bloganuary 2023I wanted to do Bloganuary 2023, but I can’t wait for the morning to create. So I did all of them at the end of January, and I’m posting them all here.

What is something you want to achieve this year?

I want to offload some tasks that devolved to me rather than things I sought to do.
How are you brave?

At some level, I’ve managed to fool a lot of people into thinking I’m an extrovert. I’m not, but I must be faking it well.

What is the earliest memory you have?

I don’t know if it is an actual memory, or recalling the photo, probably the latter. My family used to go to the Catskill Game Farm in Catskill, NY. When I was about three, I was in some large plastic or metal pumpkin.

What is a treasure that’s been lost?

I had stuff at my grandmother’s house in Binghamton, NY. Some were stolen from there back in 1973 or so – my coin collection, all of my baseball cards, and some of my LPs, alphabetically A and early B, then S-Z, including a lot of Supremes, and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass . Worse, then or subsequently, all of the childhood photos that I had in a red photobook disappeared.

What brings you joy in life?

Music. But you knew that.

Why do you write?

To figure things out. Sometimes, I THINK I know what I know. Then I write something, and it often morphs.

Write a short story or poem about rain.

The western US was devoid of rain, then it came too quickly to maintain. It was because of the dry terrain that caused so many such pain.

Week 2

How far back in your family tree can you go?

This is the one prompt I DID answer: here.

What is the most memorable gift you have received?

It might have been my 16th birthday when I got this container with strips of paper from my friends with significant comments.

Has a book changed your life?

Your Erroneous Zones by Wayne Dyer, which I described here.

How do you define success?

I keep asking the questions.

What chore do you find the most challenging to do?

Doing the laundry. It’s not the actual washing, which I rather like. It’s going to the basement. The steps, especially walking down, are nerve-wracking because they’re so tall. There’s no railing. I mentioned to my wife at least a decade ago that I’d love a washer-dryer on the first floor.

If you had a billion US dollars, how would you spend it?

Besides paying off the mortgages of my sisters and brothers-in-law, there are a lot of causes I’d like to contribute to. Better salaries for library staff, create affordable housing, stuff like that.

What is your preferred mode of travel?

The train. The train. And the train.

Week 3


What fear have you conquered?

I was once in a rental that had rodents. So I had to set mousetraps, then empty mousetraps. Yucky. Hadn’t overcome it, just did it anyway.

Do you have a memory that’s linked to a smell?

The lilac bush next to the house I grew up in. Marijuana, which always reminds me of college.  Probably many more.

Describe the happiest day of your life.

I’m not sure it is THE happiest day. Still: I was in college, and my wife, the Okie, split. There was no way I could finish all of my courses. But we weren’t allowed to drop courses after the midterm point, which had passed.

That is unless I had a professional attest that I was having a physical or emotional problem. I talked to the campus pastor, Paul Walley, who I did know. He wrote me a note, and it was accepted. I was able to drop two of my courses on December 4, 1974 – a date I will always remember – keeping three that I could finish.

What’s your favorite meal to cook and/or eat?

Cook: lasagna. Eat: rotisserie chicken.

What color describes your personality and why?

Well, geez, it should be

What irritates you about the home you live in?

Besides the steps to the basement? The deteriorating back porch.  Incidentally, we saw a contractor recommended by a friend in August 2022. He said he’d send us a quote by September 10. We called him twice after that but got no response.

Who is your favorite author, and why?

I’m going to cheat and say, Stephen Sondheim. I have both of his books of lyrics and it’s the lovely descriptions of his writing process. Maybe Russell Baker or Dr. Seuss.

Week 4

What was your dream job as a child?

For a time, it was practically ordained that I’d become a minister. Later, a lawyer.

What’s a lie you tell yourself?

Probably that I’m not vain.

How do you show love?

Hugs are good.

What is a song or poem that speaks to you and why?

A song? One song? There are hundreds, some of which I  will mention in March 2023. The first that comes to mind is Telling Me Lies by Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris. GREAT three-part harmony and melancholy as all get out.

What language do you wish you could speak?

Chinese. Because, unlike the Romance languages, I don’t understand it AT ALL.

What are the pros and cons of procrastination?

Obviously, the pro is when the problem goes away as a result of waiting, and the con is when it doesn’t.

It’s been carrot cake for decades. Yet it wasn’t something I remember eating as a child.
Week 5

I learned that a second great-great-grandfather, besides James Archer,  fought in the Civil War. Samuel Patterson, my father’s mother’s mother’s father, fought in the 5th Massachusetts (Colored) in 1864.

What would you title the chapters of your autobiography? 

I would have no idea until I wrote it. However, I’d probably model them on the 55 short chapters in Life Itself by Roger Ebert.

Where is the best place to watch the sunset near you?

Driving down Route 20 in Rensselaer County, NY, heading towards Albany, gives the best view of the Albany city skyline, including the sunset. Also, a great view of the Fourth of July fireworks.

Jan. rambling: things that don’t work

toaster hoax


Exhibit on Post-World War II Jewish Refugees 

Lula’s New Government Is Taking Steps to Combat Racism in Brazil

Public Libraries continue to thrive despite defunding and privatization attacks

Why Do People Keep Falling for Things That Don’t Work? — How pseudoscience can affect even those with medical knowledge

Nearly all mass attackers were male and experienced at least one significant stressor in the past five years, according to a U.S. Secret Service analysis of 173 incidents in recent years.

The Best Management Secrets for Impacting Employee Mental Health

This “inflation” is different

For Every $1 Gained by a Bottom 90 Percenter Since 2020, a Billionaire Got $1.7M

The FDA will soon allow gay men in monogamous relationships to donate blood, according to draft guidelines released by the agency.

The Once and Future Sex is “Eleanor Janega’s new history of gender and sex in the medieval age, describing the weird and horny ways of medieval Europeans, which are far gnarlier and more complicated than the story we get from “traditionalists” who want us to believe that their ideas about gender roles reflect a fixed part of human nature. Modern attitudes are an attempt to rewrite history.”

Gas stoves can harm your health — and scientists have known that for decades

Nancy Pelosi, liberated and loving it

A few observations on Biden’s documents

Jane Fonda on Cancer Battle, Privilege and Coming Into Her Own at 85

An appreciation of literary lion Russell Banks

The Oldest People in the World

February 2023 Flyer for the next Death Cafe. Saturday, Feb 11th, from 1 pm- 3 pm at William K. Sandford  Library’s Stedman Room. The address is 629 Albany Shaker Road, Loudonville, NY 12211

Gina Lollabrigida, Legendary Italian Screen Siren, Dies at 95

Cindy Williams, Star of ‘Laverne & Shirley,’ Dies at 75

Royal dysfunction, disorder, and drama are hardly restricted to the British monarchy

Amazon Smile isn’t smiling after February 20, 2023. 

Passenger automobile depreciation tables


M&M’s ‘spokescandies’ controversy, explained. I did not know this was an important political issue.

Comic about batteries, sort of

‘The Simpsons,’ ‘Family Guy’ and ‘Bob’s Burgers’ Nab Two Season RenewalsRenewals at Fox. It’ll be 36 seasons of The Simpsons!

HBO Max has removed over 250 Warner Brothers cartoons from that streaming service.

The use of the word “inedible” to mean “I don’t like this food.”

How Doug Liman Directed a Brett Kavanaugh FBI Investigation Doc in Secret

‘Black Panther 2,’ ‘Ant-Man 3’ Secure China Release Dates as Beijing Lifts De Facto Ban on Marvel

The History Behind Captain America Punching Hitler

The Greg Hatcher Legacy Files #4: ‘Friday Anger Management

The Indecision of Mr. Goodell

The “Greatest” Football Comeback???

Alan MacMasters: How the great online toaster hoax was exposed

All right, who left all these tabs open?

Now I Know: Seattle’s Mystery Soda Machine and The Original Turn Signals and How To Save a Sinking Church and The Birds That Gave The Bird


David Crosby, a co-founder of the Byrds and CSN, dies at 81. Essential tracks

Coverville 1430: The David Crosby Tribute and  1429: The Donald Fagen/Steely Dan Cover Story

Speaker of the House – Randy Rainbow

Barrett Strong, one of Motown’s founding artists and a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, died at 81. He was often partnered with the late Norman Whitfield. Here’s his early Motown hit, Money.

I’m A Man and Outro (1967) – The Yardbirds (feat. Jimmy Page)

The Last Stand – Sabaton. “Sometimes you need a Swedish metal song about the soldiers who protected the Pope during the sack of Rome in 1527.”

St. John of Damascus – Sergei Taneyev

If You Raise Your Head – MonaLisa Twins

Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet overture.

Not A Day Goes By– Bernadette Peters

The theme song from the sitcom, My Favorite Martian — but with lyrics… – The Satellite Singers

Fred Hembeck is 70

What the World Needs Now

Fred HembeckI first met Fred Hembeck at FantaCo, the comic book store at 21 Central Avenue in Albany, NY, in February 1980. That was about three months before I would work there.   The occasion was a signing for Hembeck 1980, published by FantaCo.

But I knew his work from the weekly strips that he did for the Buyer’s Guide to Comic Fandom.  Here’s a brief review by former Marvel editor Tom Brevoort, who nails what I liked about his work.

“Hembeck was great–he had an appealing style, he didn’t take the subject matter too seriously (and simultaneously took it very, very seriously, a dichotomy I could appreciate), and he was a like a comic book archaeologist, digging through old issues to find weird and forgotten stories to spotlight.”

Fred created seven Hembeck magazines with FantaCo, He also made some spot illos for other FantaCo pubs, including the three FantaCo Chronicles I edited. We also became friends. A few years later, he moved from Rensselaer County downstate, and we lost touch for a while.

Then in 2004 – and I’ve mentioned this before – our mutual friend Rocco asked if I had read Fred’s blog. I had never read ANYONE’S blog. But I devoured his writings going back to January 2003.

Eventually, I would send Fred blog ideas or questions, and my name started appearing in his columns, starting in January 2005.

Around the same time, we exchanged CD mixes. His were more eclectic than mine, featuring discs of Andy Williams, Robbie Williams, and Beatles covers. His discs of 1960s tunes were epic.

In time, I decided that I’d start my blog. Fred plugged it. Moreover, I visited his extensive blog roster, checked out some of those folks, and commented on their blogs. That’s how I “met” Lefty, Gordon, Eddie, and even Greg.


Then my family started being in his general neighborhood once each summer. So from 2006 to 2013, my wife, daughter, and I would visit his family, a grand time in which Fred and I would philosophically muse about media.

He tends to stay with television programs he started with to the end, whereas I will give up. We were both describing the same song but remembering different parts: What the World Needs Now/Abraham, Martin, and John by Tom Clay.

These days, I tend to see him at the Albany Comic Con when I can make it, which was impacted by COVID. I should note that Fred does NOT have squiggles where his elbows and knees should be, though his comic book persona does.

So now Fred is older than I am, for about five weeks. Happy birthday, effendi.

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