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AfriGeneas Schools, Organizations, Churches and Institutions Forum

Research Results
In Response To: Research Results? ()

Hi VKN:

Sorry that it took me a little longer than planned to come back to this thread. Whew, life gets hectic at times. I have no new large updates. I did pursue one of the descendant leads mentioned in one the articles you forwarded, Dr. Mary Harden Umolu, professor of Communications at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, Dr. Umolu passed away this past September 2007.

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Willie Herbert Pope, known more popularly as Herbert Pope
proprietor of Pope Photography Studio in Bedford Stuyvesant (Bed-Stuy), Brooklyn for some 40 years
photography store owner, started foundation and several community-related contests
listed as "Fulton Street's oldest businessman" in several 1970s articles.
well-respected businessman; active in civic affairs/community leader
born September 25, 1902 (South Hampton County, Virginia)
passed May 6, 1989 (Brooklyn, New York)

a rough timeline:

1902: Mr. Pope's birth

1919: moved to NY from VA, determined to find a trade

1920s: apprenticed w/Manhattan portrait photographer, Joseph Weise

1940s established/beginnings of own photography business (addresses mentioned in articles):
[Herbert Pope: "they weren't giving out too many loans to black folks. We had to do a lot of hustling to stay in business." (NY Amsterdam News, A Brooklyn Pioneer, June 30, 1979, J. Zambgba Browne)
--1373 Fulton Street/ (another article says 1373 Marcy Avenue)
--1254 Fulton Street
--1154 Fulton Street (he purchased this building and stabilized the business)
"The 77-year old Pope still remembers an incident that led him to move to his present address at 1154 Fulton Street: After operating his studio out of 1294 Fulton Street for about three years, and business began to prosper, Pope said all of a sudden his white landlord decided to increase his rent from $200 to $300 a month. We could't afford that kind of money..." [Amsterdam News, June 30, 1979, (J. Zambga Brown)]

1960: started community "contests," such as the annual 'Miss Pope' and 'Tiny Tot' pageants, and Cinderella, Popularity and Bride-to-Be Contests.

1969: Herbert Pope Community Foundation established
"to meet the exigent and urgent needs of the youths and adults of Bedford Stuyvesant"

1976: announced retirement
(August 21, 1976 Amsterdam News, letter to the editor):
"My retirement plan is to sell my photography business and start working more for the community. I have made plans to reopen my community foundation center. The playground facilities, workshop programs, and educational and civic instruction will be in operation very soon. I have planned to have my autobiography written and published and plans are being made to make the square bordering Fulton Street, Green Avenue and Cumberland Street, the Herbert Pope Community Square..."

1979: fire reported (in a 1979 Amsterdam News article, though I have to research further as "three months ago" doesn't seem to match with date of article--would have been March, not November)
"Three months ago, on the night after Thanksgiving, Pope was hit by a major disaster. He and his family narrowly escaped from a blaze that engulfed his home and office on Fulton Street, destroying everything he had labored for these years. Pope, who had to leave the building in his pajamas, said the entire top floor was desgtroyed, and he doesn't think he will ever be able to renovate it. I am an old man now, and don't have that kind of strength anymore." he said. Since the fire, Pople said in an interview things have been extremely rough with him because most of his equipment was damaged." (NY Amsterdam News, A Brooklyn Pioneer, June 30, 1979, J. Zambgba Browne)

1989: Herbert Pope passes
"Popular Brooklyn photographer Herbert W. Pope died Saturday, May 6 at the Marcus Garvey Nursing Home in Crown Heights at the age of 86." (NY Amsterdam News, Herbert Pope was popular Brooklyn photographer, May 13, 1989.)
Funeral Services on May 13th at John Wesley Methodist Church, 260 Quincy Avenue, near Nostrand Avenue.
Viewing of remains at: Shirley L. Hawkins Funeral Home, 535 Franklin Avenue
He was survived by his wife, the former Mrs. Leona Henderson
Interment was set for Frederick Douglass Cemetery on Staten Island

some other names listed in the articles:
--Leona Pope, nee Henderson (Herbert Pope's third wife)
--Dorothy Lofton (Herbert Pope's secretary)
--Ronald Anderson (child actor, Sesame Street regular, got his start through pic in Herbert Pope in store window)
--Tiny Tots: 1st place winners
(1960: Vera Smith; 1961: Barbara Stith; 1962: Frederica Pope; 1963: Beverly Morgan; 1964: Denise Jones; 1965: Bernadette Nesby; 1966: Shirley Price; 1967: Volaria Gardner; 1968: Donna Maddox; 1971: Saundra Anderson; 1972: Kendolyn Hodges; 1973 (last contest): Yolanda Brinson)


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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