Wikipedia Goddamn!

While writing my own article for Wikipedia, it dawned on me that it would be nice to be able to link to my parents’ pages from my own page. So I wrote pages for my father and mother; and since my mother’s father was a notable African-American surgeon, and one of the first black graduates of the Yale School of Medicine, I went ahead and wrote an article for him. Little did I know that I was setting myself up for frustrations that would dominate my week.

First of all, the “Community of Editors” immediately took down the article on my mother. After all that work, researching, writing, cutting and pasting, they nominated it for “Speedy deletion.” First they claimed that, “The submissions references do not adequately show the subject’s notability. Please improve the submission's referencing, so that the information is verifiable, and there is clear evidence of why the subject is notable and worthy of inclusion in an encyclopedia.” After smacking my head several times, I re-submitted the article and explained that as an African-American woman, Anne Gamble Kennedy’s concerts were not always covered by the white press, and that the archives of “Negro” newspapers were not always available online. Plus, she was known worldwide as the piano accompanist with the Fisk Jubilee Singers, and a student and protégée of the composer and educator John W. Work, III… (and let’s not forget the opening of Cadillac Records!)

My mother, Anne Gamble Kennedy
The next day, they took it down again.  Again I explained that she is known nationally in the African-American community and among Fisk University alumni. Then an editor responded on the Chat Page: “It is unfortunate that her talents were not recognized by the press of her time, but Wikipedia can't right that wrong. If there are no sources, there are no sources.”

 I responded, “Well, these articles are long overdue. One of her former students has said, ‘The people at Wikipedia should be ashamed of themselves for not publishing this article.’ By invalidating her, you invalidate her students.”

(In fact, one of her former students was just recently featured in the national press for playing the organ for hours at Coretta Scott King's request, while Dr. Martin Luther King's body lay in repose in the Spelman College Chapel. Her name is Dr. Joyce Finch Johnson.)

To this the editor wrote, “Once again, I will state that I fully understand the problem that Black artists in this country (especially in the mid-1900s) were under-represented and under-reported. That is a tragedy. But it is not a tragedy Wikipedia can fix.”

John W. Work, III
We went back and forth a few times, until I finally sent him the clip of Annalise Keating arguing before the Supreme Court in How to Get Away with Murder, in which she states that, “Racism… is built in the DNA of America!”  To which he responded, “I think we're done here. You want the article because you think the world needs it; I don't think the article merits inclusion because there are insufficient sources. You and I are not going to agree on this, so we'll have to agree to disagree.”

I had some choice words for him which I kept to myself.

I believe the staff of editors were upset with the description of an incident I included in the article, in which I clearly spelled out how my mother was discriminated against by a racist white conductor in her home town of Charleston, West Virginia. The passage reads as follows:

“Early in her career, Gamble had been engaged to appear as piano soloist with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto. A few months before the concert, the conductor died suddenly. Her contract was canceled by the conductor's replacement due to suspected racist sentiment.”

That incident nearly destroyed my mother. She was so excited about having this debut performance as piano soloist with the Symphony, just to have it pulled out from under her by a racist prick. My father said to me that he thought she never got over it. If you can call this justice, I Googled the West Virginia Symphony and found the name of the conductor who died suddenly, and the name of the conductor who replaced him. When I Googled his name, I found nothing.

I also wrote of how famed contralto Marian Anderson stayed in Gamble’s father’s home because, as an African-American, she was not allowed to stay in hotels. Nothing but the truth! Marian Anderson met my mother when she was a young girl. They remained friends for the rest of Anderson’s life. I even found a record of their correspondence in the Marian Anderson Papers held at the University of Pennsylvania Library.

                         Marian Anderson

I had had enough with this editor, so I went to the Help Desk to ask if a different editor could review my article. I stated that the first editor seemed to have a race problem. I soon heard from another dickhead on the Chat Page who kept asking why I had drawn this conclusion. I simply repeated the man’s own words. Back to the issue of references, I told him that a reference had been approved which was also used in my grandfather’s article. To that he said, “Well maybe that was a mistake.” I responded, “So you’re bent on erasing African-American history, too?” A few minutes later I learned that this bastard had taken my grandfather’s article down.

My grandfather, Dr. Henry Floyd Gamble

At this point I was livid. All that work! And they can just take it down whenever they feel like it. With all the crap that exists on Wikipedia, they can so carelessly decide that the lives of African-American icons are not important. I am so lucky to have my own blog spot where I can post what is important to me.

Rest assured I am still demanding answers as to why the Anne Gamble Kennedy article is unacceptable, and will keep re-submitting it until it is accepted.

A post script: The dickhead bastard who removed my grandfather’s article eventually replaced it, with more than half of it missing. I have posted the complete article on this blog spot.

Enjoy this clip of Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) arguing before the Supreme Court that, "Racism is built in the DNA of America."


  1. You can read the Henry Floyd Gamble article here:


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