Thursday, November 19, 2009





Vernon M. Herron

Life Member 709 A Phi A

Ethel Hedgeman                                      George  Lyle


All brothers of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity salute the beloved sisters of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority on their 100th Anniversary year of existence. The story of Alpha Kappa Alpha and Alpha Phi Alpha is a “love-knot” story rooted in a personal relationship between Ethel Hedgeman and George Lyle and the historic development of Black Greek life in the academic community.1


Ethel Hedgeman was a founding principal of AKA during her Junior year at Howard University at Washington, DC.[i] Also, George Lyle was a Junior at Howard and was a principal and President of the Beta Chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity at Howard.[ii] The birth of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority has often been related to the establishment of Beta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.[iii]


Ethel Hedgeman and George Lyle were friends, sweethearts, lovers and finally life’s partners.[iv] As school mates, Ethel witnessed the strength and character of George, his academic excellence, fraternal leadership, social gracefulness and manly deeds of a black manhood. Ethel envisioned those needful qualities in a sisterhood. Through mutual respect, constant dialogue regarding structure, purpose, and positions, a vision of America’s first Greek-letter organization for Black women was born.[v]


It is true that Ethel Hedgeman attributed much encouragement toward the establishment of the first Geek-lettered organization for Black women to two of her former teachers, Ethel Tremain Robinson and Elizabeth Appa Cook.[vi] But the hard cold fact which remains is that




A journey on retrospect is to review a date-line calendar of these two wed-locks:

            1906   The Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity was founded in Ithaca, NY. Its first                                   chapter             was called Alpha.[viii]

            1907   One year later, Beta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity was established

                        at Howard University, Washington, DC with George Lyle as its principal

                        and president.[ix]

            1908    The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority was founded at Howard University.[x]

            1909   Ethel Hedgeman and George Lyle were of the ’09 class at Howard.[xi]

            1911   Ethel Hedgeman and George Lyle were married in Philadelphia.[xii]

            1950   Ethel Hedgeman Lyle died and was buried in Philadelphia.[xiii]
















                1  Majorie H. Parker, Alpha Kappa Alpha: Sixty Years of Service (Washington, DC: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. 1966), p.3



                2  Parker, Alpha Kappa Alpha, p.3.




                3 Charles H. Wesley, The History of Alpha Phi Alpha: A Development in Negro College Life, (Washington, DC: Foundation Publishers, 1950), p.59.



                4 Parker, Alpha Kappa Alpha, p. 3.



                5 Ibid., p.3.



                6 Ibid., p. vii.



                7 Ibid., p.  3.



                8 Ibid., p. 3.  



                9 Wesley, The History of Alpha, p. 23.



                10 Ibid., p. 59



                11 Parker, Alpha Kappa Alpha,  p. 1



                12 Ibid., p.3.



                13 Ibid., p. 3.



                14 Ibid., p. 12.



                15 “In Our Hearts.”

Gone But Not Forgotten

G O N E   B U T   N O T   F O R G O T T E N!



Onetta Latimer Boyton

Queen Thompson Byrd

Paul Hendricks

Vernon M. Herron

John A. McCarroll

Miss Hannah Guion Stewart 

b.d. 13 Dec.1868

d.d 8 Oct. 1963


We remember that on December 1868, Hannah G. Stewart was born. Teachers at Second Ward High School were great teachers because they gave the best of themselves. We remember two of them today. Even though they are deceased, they are not forgotten.


Most Charlotteans,  at least seventy years of age or older, would remember “Miss Hannah Stewart” who lived at 700 East Boundary Street in the Second Ward/Brooklyn section of Charlotte. It was this strong, respected, Victorian, dynamic spinster who made indelible impressions on all who had contact with her as a school teacher, a disciplinarian in community relations or in economic prudence.


Miss Hannah Guion Stewart was born c1868 and died 1963 at the age of 95. She was the oldest African American female who taught in the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public School system for 37 years. She was the second child of Randall and Elsie (Walton) Stewart who lived from 1848 to 1879 and from 1846 to 1918 respectively. According to anecdotal records, she grew up in the “Jonesville” section of Charlotte and later attended Grace AMEZ Church. When Urban Renewal started in 1961 and later confiscated her home, Miss Stewart went to New York City to live and shortly died there on 6 October 1963. She was buried October 12, 1963 in Charlotte at the 9th Street- Pinewood Cemetery in Charlotte. (Section A Lot 3f)

It is noted that Miss Hannah had two siblings, a brother Randall Stewart who lived to be 83 years of age and a sister, Patsey Stewart Rencher who lived to be 67 years of age.

North Carolina made no provision for public school education prior to the Civil War. Blacks had to attend Church schools or travel out of town to obtain a high school diploma. Such opportunities were provided by the Rosenwald Funds for schools, Biddle School for boys at Charlotte, Scotia College for the girls at Concord and Livingstone at Salisbury, etc. Miss Hannah received her high school and formal training at Livingstone College at Salisbury where she received an A. B. degree.


According to the city directories, Hannah G. Stewart was a pioneer teacher at Myers Street School, having taught there for at least 21 years under the principalships of Mrs. Isabella Wyche, Professor Samuel B. Pride, Mrs. Jessie Pride, Mr. J. N. Brown,  Mr. William Stinson and Miss Mary Wyche.


When the new Second Ward School opened in 1923, it grew out of Myers Street School, which had been in existence for 41 years. Second Ward School, with its first principal, William Stinson, opened with a capacity to accommodate six hundred students in grades six through eleven. It was not a standardized four year high school. Students came from Myers Street School in grades six through eight. Miss Hannah G. Stewart transferred from Myers Street School to Second Ward two years after it opened, where she taught history for 16 years. She was noted as a “strict disciplinarian.”  Her greeting words to all new students were “my name is Hannah Stewart. I live at 700 East Boundary Street. If I say something your mammy doesn’t like, she can come see me.”

When students did not use good judgment, Miss Stewart would say “children, you may have all the book learning in the world, but if you don’t have mother-wit, you may as well be dead!” On another occasion, returning to her classroom and finding students “acting up” and being noisy and boisterous, she would declare, “just look at you, acting just like Dick Moss’ cows! Now what did Dick Moss’ cows do?” The class having heard the phrase many times, would exclaim, “They jumped the fence when the gate was opened”.


As the oldest faculty member, Miss Stewart taught more than the subject course. She taught character building, personal hygiene and moral persuasion. Even though Principal J. E. Grigsby gave Miss Stewart faculty assistance in filing state and school district mandated reports, she never failed to work toward the cultivation of the whole person.


Even though a spinster, Miss Stewart was a thrifty business entrepreneur. She moved from a roomer/renter at 202 and 216 E. Boundary Street to a home owner at 700 E. Boundary. At the latter address, many “up start” teachers and laymen were roomers and boarders. In addition to teaching, she engaged in laundry and grocery services.  She was the major financial investor in the Oscar Harris CafĂ© located on South McDowell Street at First Street where she served as a culinarian. She demonstrated that pennies make dollars. Hannah Guion Stewart is gone but not forgotten.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Herron Speaks

Vernon M. Herron, D.Min.

2510 Century Oaks Lane

Charlotte, N.C. 28262


Fax: 704-599-4914



Blogging address:








Through the advent of the Internet and the opportunity to publish my written works to the masses, I have decided to create a web log - commonly known as a "blog." As you may know, a blog is a type of Internet website, consisting of chronicled commentary, presented in written, photo, audio or video fashion.


My blog is entitled, "Herron Speaks" as it is available on the Internet now. I invite you to visit my blog today and subscribe at:


Currently, I plan to publish a new article as often as I am inspired to do so. As such, I will send you a gentle reminder to visit my blog after each new posting.


If you have Internet Service and wish to subscribe to my blog, be sure that I have your correct e-mail address by sending a reply to this letter that you have received in person or by U.S. Postal Service mail using email with the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject field.


If you have Internet Service and received this communication by email and do not wish to receive such a reminder, send an e-mail reply to this letter with the word UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject field.




Your pen pal!




Vernon M. Herron


Monday, November 2, 2009

An Experience with Hymns








Vernon M. Herron





The Baptist Standard Hymnal

Dr. James Abbington‘s lecture




The Black Church is an adaptive institution. It is not wholly African, Anglo nor Western. Im-pro-vi-sa-tion is required. It draws on the culture of each to form a vital expression of a meaningful faith. Im-pro-vi-sa-tion gives a greater meaning to hymns, spirituals, anthems, gospel music and note singing, in that, the words are arranged or rearranged to improve a dramatic experience. Thus in the Black Church, all kinds of religious music is sung, (meter hymns, gospel, spirituals, anthems, note singing) to give feeling, accent and consent to the longing of the soul and the aspiration of the mind.


From the Baptist Standard Hymnal, we learn that the term “meter” is a Greek word which belongs to poetry. Meter is the standard by which long and short syllables in a verse are arranged into groups of syllables called poetic “Feet.” Each “Foot,” having a distinctive name, is to poetry what a measure is to music. Thus, meter music is a verse form, as a measured verbal rhythm, arranged in a group of syllables forming a line of words, having a time unit and a regular beat, equal in time, length and pattern.

Blacks took Watts style music and put it into short meter, long meter and common meter. But they also took hymn tune songs and put them into meters augmented by their own ingenuity. Hand clapping, soprano and bass voice range provided the accompaniment, while  the patting of heel and toe, were time-keeping techniques. Meter hymn singing does not use instruments for accompaniment. This is pure singing.

(The rhythm –beat technique)

 Meter music was a phenomenon of the European community. It dates back as far as 1701. Because of it, Blacks of the enslaved community were exposed to it. When the advent of quatrain  music, (a unit or group of four lines of a verse) came to this country shortly after 1800’s, (with Watts and others), persons of enslavement would hear and learn two lines, then another two. They sang that meter in the black idiom, standing on the last standard. This is called “lining out” a hymn. Music may be Euro-American in its authorship but in its performance can have a definite imprint of the black religious experience. (Raising a hymn)


Meter hymn with no hymn tune, some time accompanied with moaning, was a common practice to the Black tradition. Yet, a hymn tune may be sung in meter style with a rhythm, a syncopation, or improvisation.


The most frequently used meters are:




Common meter is known by a stanza of four lines composed of one short unaccented syllable and one long syllable in each poetical foot. The syllables being in number and order are as follows: 8,6,8,6, that is:

  • There are 8 syllables in the first line.
  • There are 6 syllables in the second line.
  • There are 8 syllables in the third line.
  • There are 6 syllables in the fourth line.


            Amazing Grace

            Father, I stretch my hands to Thee.

            *I heard the Voice of Jesus say    *(Selected illustrated hymn)




(L. M.)


Long meter consists of four lines, of each foot contains one short unaccented and one long accented syllable. Each line contains 8 syllables.

  • There are 8 syllables in the first line.
  • There are 8 syllables in the second line.
  • There are 8 syllables in the third line.
  • There are 8 syllables in the fourth line.



            *My Hope is Built on Nothing Less

            Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow



(S. M)


Short meter consists of a stanza of four lines whose poetic foot is composed of two syllables- a short or unaccented syllable, followed by a long or accented syllable. The syllables being in number and order are as follows: 6,6,8,6, that is:

  • There are 6 syllables in the first line.
  • There are 6 syllables in the second line.
  • There are 8 syllables in the third line.
  • There are 6 syllables in the fourth line.


            Come Ye That Love the Lord

            *A Charge to keep I Have





A spiritual is a sacred folk song but not gospel. According to Miles Mark Fisher, a spiritual is a first-hand historical document of life in Africa and the Americas. It is biblically based and has been passed down by oral tradition.

                            *The Lord is My Light

                            Don’t Want to be Standing Outside



John Work describes gospel music as the 21st century spiritual.





The history of musical notation with notes in different shapes goes back to the early 1700’s in New England. Various methods were used to teach small groups of people to sing. Different shapes of notes were used to teach the musically untrained how to read notes. Most people know at least 7 syllables for the musical scale: do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti. The entirety of shape-note is a thoroughly American heritage.





Abbington, James,  Let Mt. Zion Rejoice: Music In The African American Church.

                   Valley Forge: Judson Press, 2001


______________, Readings In African American Church Music and Worship. Valley

                    Forge: Judson Press, 2000


Baptist Standard Hymnal


Cobb, Jr., Dwell, A Sacred Harp- A Tradition and Its Meaning.


Reagon, Bernice Johnson, We’ll Understand It Better By and By.  Smithsonian

              Institution Press, 1992.

Sunday, November 1, 2009



                            ….THE WILLIAM ROBERT LEE, SR. HOUSE


                                            ….THE CARR/LEE HOUSE


200 N. McDowell Street 

Charlotte, NC 28204 







                                                                                                                Vernon M. Herron




The House


This house story is about three principals, John Price Carr the builder, William Robert Lee, Sr., the purchaser and his son William Robert Lee, Jr. the beneficiary, who was our 1947 classmate and a trumpet player.


The History


In 1904, John Price Carr erected a fashionable Queen Anne Style house at 200 N. McDowell Street as his home. It is located across the street from Charlotte’s main post office, near the Government Plaza with high visibility. It is certainly the most significant Victorian structure in the entire First Ward. According to Dan L. Morrill, Director Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission, it was the most fashionable style of domestic architecture in Charlotte during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. It was widely used in the growing residential neighborhoods of First Ward, Fourth Ward and along affluent blocks of Tryon and Trade Streets. “…The Carr House is a fine example of this heritage.” Today, it is in the National Register of Historic places because of its local historic significance.


Dan further revealed that Mr. Carr personally supervised the construction of this house, using aesthetic qualities of wood, designed into a uniquely American architecture, characterized by irregular outlines, frame construction, steep pitched roofs, open interior spaces, verandas and porches. The house rested on a solid red brick foundation wall interrupted at regular intervals by glazed wood frame foundation vents.



Some Historic Dates


1878   John Price Carr married Anna Eliza Little.

1904   John Price Carr built his Queen Ann Style home at 200 N. McDowell Street.

1927   John Price Carr died.

1951   Mrs. Carr sold the house to an African American Family, Mr. and Mrs. William

           Robert Lee, Sr. (Annie Moore Lee)

1951-1975 -the Carr’s House became the Lee’s House. (A factor little noticed by the

                  local press). In later years, they rented the house to male boarders.

1975   The city of Charlotte purchased the house under the auspices of The

            Community Development Department and Urban Renewal, then restored

            to its original grandeur.

1981    The house was converted into an office use and remains the same unto this day.







The Happenings


During the 50’s the Lee’s Home was a well-known and a part of the middle-class black community. I attended two noted social activities there which I shall never forget. One was when William Robert Lee, Jr. took Irene Sylver to be his bride in a lovely garden wedding at the estate in 1952.  Bob Lee. Jr., Irene  and I were school mates at Shaw University at Raleigh. To me, this “garden wedding” was uniquely dubbed “the wedding of the century.”


The second activity was the best social party I ever attended in my life, which was in the Lee’s home. It was during the Christmas school recess, when friends including Lloyd Sigler, Ada Ruth Brown, Vermelle Diamond, Queen Ester Thompson and others, gathered at the mansion for a “blowout” of chatter, fun and refreshments. The chatter consisted of contrasting the Carrs with Lees:


Mr. Carr was a Caucasian business man of substance and character.

Mr. Lee was an African American man with skill and character.


Mr. Carr was a successful business man.

Mr. Lee was a chef at S&W Cafeteria


Mr. Carr was a deacon at Second Presbyterian/Covenant Church where he was a leader in the Sunday school.

Mr. Lee was a deacon in the Ebenezer Baptist Church where he was the Assistant Superintendent of the Sunday school. Mrs. Lee and son, Jr. played in the church’s orchestra.


Mr. Carr gave Presbyterian Hospital $40,000.00 which prevented a foreclosure.

Mrs. Annie Moore Lee served as a pastry cook at Presbyterian Hospital to nourish its continued life. She was a saxophone player.


Mr. Carr died in 1927.

Mr. Lee died in 1981



The fun part was based on the fact that we had “all things in common.”


The refreshments made this the best party I have ever attended in my life! Can you guess what the menu was? Pop-Corn and coke! That’s all. It was the company and the setting which made the day. We enjoyed the Lee’s home.


The real issue is- how can the story be told of the Carr-Lee House and ignore the 24 years of the Lee’s ownership?