This blog is composed of images and writings related to the life and work of Faith Ringgold, her mother Mme. Willi Posey, and her daughters Michele and Barbara Wallace. There are pages with links to blogs composed of the materials arranged by decades. The blog, itself, will ultimately be composed of materials related to the life of the family in the 90s and the 21st century.

Sunday

Photo-Essay: Faith Jones and Earl Wallace Back in the Day


This is Faith and Earl when they were first going together. They are standing together on the park side of Edgecombe Avenue in 1946. She is 16 and he is 19, having already returned from his brief tour in the Navy.

Earl was never particularly happy at home. He was an only child and his mother had to work hard in the garment district in order to support the household. His father, who had come to the United States from Jamaica in the early 20s, while being an obviously brilliant and learned man, was not of a strong psychological disposition and had little tolerance for the racism that was endemic in American society. Grandpa Bob (as I knew him) had a reputation for being an iconoclast and a musician who only worked as much as he needed to keep body and soul together. Marrying my grandmother Teddy was no doubt a mistake on his part. Having a child with her (my father) was probably even more of an accident.

Momma T (my grandmother) had immediately sent her grandson home to Jamaica to be raised by her mother (or maybe it was grandpa Bob's mother-- never been entirely sure about this). In any case, Grandpa Bob was never able to support his son or his wife. Momma T soon found a replacement whom I called Chiefie. They were ultimately married but Earl did not get along well with him at all.

I am told at one point that Grandpa Bob's sister Sissie had tried to bring Earl to live with her family in Queens but for some reason he was not allowed to do this, probably because of the stubbornness of Momma T's sister, Doris Rhino who never had children of her own and never married. It was she who had the bright idea to bring Earl from Jamaica to live with his mother. She hoped that having him in the U.S. would help to reunite Momma T. and Grandpa Bob, which of course it did nothing of the kind.

In any case, in his misery Earl had enlisted in the navy at 16, lying about his age in order to get in. He had taken their aptitude tests and passed them all with flying colors. The tests said he should do something technically advanced but since he was black, and the military was still quite race crazy, it was not possible for him to actually have the job. It wasn't long before he was AWOL and dishonorably discharged and back on Edgecombe Avenue again. I am not exactly sure how or when he completed high school but he did spend some time attending both the New School and Juilliard so I imagine that a high school diploma wasn't much of a challenge. He probably got it at George Washington High School, which seems to be where all the kids from Edgecombe went then.


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Michele Wallace: Talking in Pictures

Michele Wallace: Talking in Pictures
Barbara, MJ, Michele and Mom in the background in sunglasses at a fashion show in the early 60s