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Anna M. Taylor: Who’s On Second? (Contest)
Monday, November 16th, 2020

UPDATE: The winner is…Debra Guyette!

My blogpost title “Who’s On Second” was inspired by the “Who’s on First” routine of the comedy team Abbott and Costello. In their comedic fight, Lou Costello is trying to find out the names of the baseball players on first, second and third base. His partner Bud Abbott tells him Who’s on first, What’s on second, and I Don’t Know is on third. You can watch it here to see why Lou Costello goes crazy in the conversation…


Now, why would an old comedy routine inspire my musings for November on Delilah’s blog? Honestly, it didn’t, but it came to my mind because I was celebrating a historic first: Senator Kamala Harris, vice-president-elect, the first woman of African-American and South Asian descent to become vice-president of the United States.

I decided my post would be titled “Who Else Is On First” and began compiling a list of historic female African-American firsts. However, I stopped when I heard Vice-president-elect Harris say, “I may be the first, but I won’t be the last.” Exactly. What good is it to be the first if you’re also the only? If no one else comes through the door you’ve opened, then what was it all for? So I shifted gears and decided instead to lift up the names of ten African-American female seconds:

Rebecca J. Cole – 1867, the second African-American woman to earn a medical degree in the United States
Mary Ann Shadd Cary – 1883, the second African-American woman to earn a law degree in the United States
Delta Sigma Theta – 1913 – the second Black sorority founded at Howard University
Bessie Delany – 1923 – the second African American woman to be licensed as a dentist in New York (graduate Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery)
Yvette Fay Francis-McBarnette – 1946 – the second African American woman admitted to the Yale School of Medicine, (graduate class of 1950)
Mary Alice – 1987 – the second African American actress to win the Tony for an actress in a straight play
Toni Morrison – 1988 – the second African American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction
Whoopi Goldberg – 1990 – second African American actress to win an Oscar for best-supporting actress
Natasha Tretheway – 2007 – the second African American woman to win a Pulitzer prize for poetry
Kamala Harris – 2017 – the second African-American woman elected to the US Senate

If Vice-president-elect Harris follows in the footsteps of fourteen other US vice-presidents, she will become another historic second: the second Black president of the United States (as well as the first woman president of any race).

So for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card, name one of the historic firsts these historic seconds followed.

A Little In Love With Death
by Anna M. Taylor

Ten years ago no one — not even the man who said he loved her — believed Sankofa Lawford’s claim she had been brutally attacked by a ghost. Ten years later an assault on a new victim brings her back to Harlem to a mother going mad, a brother at his wits’ end, and a former love who wants a second chance. Sankofa longs for her family to be whole again, for love to be hers again, but not if she must relive the emotional pain created by memories of that night.

Mitchell Emerson is convinced science and reason can account for the ghostly happenings at Umoja House. He resolves to find an explanation that will not only satisfy him but earn back Sankofa’s trust and love. Instead, his own beliefs are shaken when he sees the ghost for himself.

Now reluctant allies, Mitchell and Sankofa learn her family was more than a little in love with death. Their search for the ghost draws them together but discovering sixty years of lies and secrets pulls them apart. As their hopes for happily ever after and dispersing the evil stalking Umoja House slip beyond their grasp, Mitchell and Sankofa find an unexpected source of help: the ghost itself.

Get your copy here!

Excerpt from A Little in Love with Death

For the last hour, Sankofa Lawford blinked through a haze of tears at her mother’s stricken face. She held the glassy-eyed woman’s hand and tried repeatedly to get her attention. No gesture stilled the older woman’s incessant rocking. No words penetrated her intonation of the same awful phrase.

“Them that tell don’t know and them that know don’t tell.

“Them that tell don’t know and them that know don’t tell.”

Wanda Lawford suddenly stopped rocking and stared in Sankofa’s direction. A bright glint of glee shone in her gaze.

Hope struggled for a foothold in Sankofa’s heart then slipped as a death head’s grin contorted her mother’s once beautiful features.


Sankofa forced the lump of sorrow down her throat. “Yes, Mama?”

With a grip made strong from madness, Wanda pulled her daughter’s hand to her chest and leaned in so her lips pressed against Sankofa’s ears.

“A word to the wise is sufficient. Have you been wise?”

Her hissed warning parodied whispered confidences mother and daughter had shared in the past. Sankofa kissed away a tear from her mother’s cheek.

“Yes, Mama.” She swallowed the lie with a smile. “I’ve been wise.”

Wanda Lawford cupped her daughter’s face and smiled, too.

“Good. I’m so sorry, so sorry. It shouldn’t have happened to you. It should never have happened to you”

Sankofa took a deep breath and controlled her sadness despite the wobble of her lips.

“Rest now, Mama. Rest. Okay?”

Wanda released Sankofa’s hand only to grip her own, rocking again, repeating again.

“Them that tell don’t know and them that know don’t tell.

“Them that tell don’t know and them that know don’t tell.”


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17 comments to “Anna M. Taylor: Who’s On Second? (Contest)”

  1. Charlotte
    · November 16th, 2020 at 10:10 am · Link

    I believe Gwendolyn Brooks was the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer prize for literature.

    Great excerpt! Added this to my TBR.

  2. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · November 16th, 2020 at 10:50 am · Link

    On the nose Charlotte,

    Ms. Brooks won the Pulitzer in 1950 for Annie Allen making her the first African American ever to win a Pulitzer. Glad you liked the excerpt. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · November 16th, 2020 at 10:52 am · Link

    As always thanks for letting me share my love of African American women and history on your blog, Delilah.

  4. Lena Pinto
    · November 16th, 2020 at 11:31 am · Link

    Hattie McDaniel was the first Black woman to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for “Gone With the Wind.”

  5. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · November 16th, 2020 at 1:13 pm · Link

    You got it, Lena. : ) Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Mary Preston
    · November 16th, 2020 at 6:36 pm · Link

    I actually knew this one – Hattie McDaniel for GONE WITH THE WIND. (First African American actress to win an Oscar for best-supporting actress.)

  7. Delores E Stewart
    · November 16th, 2020 at 7:20 pm · Link

    a great article and excerpt, Anna. Since this is about Vice President elect, Kamala Harris, the first sorority which she is also a member of is the Alpha Kappa Alpha (1908), pink and green. And the first African American Senator, was Carol Mosby Braun, 1993. I have homework to do to double check all the firsts and remember them and the seconds.

    Thanks for the valuable history lessons this leads to.

  8. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · November 16th, 2020 at 7:33 pm · Link

    Hi Delores,

    I forgot Vice-President Harris wears the pink and the green. Amazing that Illinois gave us two African American firsts: Carol Moseley Braun like you cited, first African American female senator and of course Senator Barack Obama first African American president. Thanks for stopping by. : )

  9. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · November 16th, 2020 at 7:41 pm · Link

    Hi Mary,

    You’re right. Hattie McDaniel won for 1939’s Gone With the Wind. It took another fifty-one years until Whoopi became the second. Although if I count Sidney Poitier for being the second African-American to win an Oscar for best actor in 1963 Lilies of the Field then it only took twenty-four years to get another second. : )

  10. bn100
    · November 16th, 2020 at 9:23 pm · Link

    Diahann Carroll became the first black woman to win a Tony for best actress in a lead role of a musical

  11. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · November 17th, 2020 at 7:09 am · Link

    Hi bn,

    Yep, Diahann Carroll was the first to win the Tony in this category for No Strings in 1962. In this post she would listed as the second African American woman nominated in this category after Lena Horne who was the first with her nomination in this category in 1958 for her leading role in Jamaica. Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Debra Guyette
    · November 17th, 2020 at 7:11 am · Link

    The first sorority at Howard University was Alpha Kappa Alpha.

  13. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · November 17th, 2020 at 7:19 am · Link

    Hi Debra,

    Pink and green Alpha Kappa Alpha is correct. My mother’s cousins are all AKA’s, but the second generation defected and pledged Delta. I’m not a Greek, but had the honor of being the pastor to Fannie Pettie Watts, who was one of the five “pearls” that formed the third sorority, Zeta Phi Beta in 1920. Thanks for stopping by.

  14. Misty Dawn
    · November 21st, 2020 at 7:15 pm · Link

    Here is one that I didn’t know:
    First known African-American published author: Jupiter Hammon (poem “An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries”, published as a broadside)[6]1767
    I love finding out new facts about strong, brave women!

  15. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · November 23rd, 2020 at 3:47 am · Link

    Thanks for sharing that, Misty. Thanks for stopping by.

  16. flchen1
    · November 26th, 2020 at 12:48 am · Link

    Thanks for bringing these important women to the forefront, Anna! Charlotte E. Ray was first black American female lawyer in the United States, graduating from Howard University School of Law in 1872. And Dr. Beatrix McCleary Hamburg was the first black female graduate from the Yale School of Medicine 1948. Leading the way!

  17. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · November 26th, 2020 at 7:04 am · Link

    What great information to receive on Thanksgiving, flchen. Thanks.

Comments are closed.