Jazz greats from all over the country travelled to Colorado Springs to play at the Cotton Club (1947 – 1975) at the invitation of Fannie Mae Duncan. She was a strong woman who took a stand to provide Colorado Springs with the first integrated night club. Recognized by the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 2012, Rocky Mountain PBS produced a documentary on her life. Although she has passed away, her spirit lives on today in the Everybody Welcome Festival (named for the words she posted in the window of her nightclub).
Fannie Mae’s motto was “Accept all people, show them equal respect, and always remember to make everybody welcome” – https://www.csindy.com/coloradosprings/why-fannie-mae-duncan-deserves-recognition/Content?oid=7602187. Life for her wasn’t always easy. Born in Oklahoma to a poor farming family, Fannie Mae moved to Colorado Springs in 1918. She worked as maid, soda-jerk, waitress and cook. Through it all, she dreamed. Her dream was to create a space where soldiers could bring their wives, many of whom were from other countries- a dream which would come true but only when she took a stand to make it happen.
The challenges were great. First, she and her husband (as most entrepreneurs do) had to raise the funds to purchase the building and create the facility. Jazz at that time was mostly played by black musicians. To Fannie Mae’s surprise, she found that the musicians had to drive to Denver to stay overnight after a performance, because the local hotels or lodges in Colorado Springs did not serve African-Americans. Fannie Mae’s solution was to buy a historic mansion to provide lodging for the performers and other visitors. But that was not all, she had to battle with the police.
Like Fats Waller’s song called “Ain’t Misbehaving”, Fannie Mae had run-ins with the law. The Cotton Club (in Colorado Springs) was opened to all no matter their race or color. When Police Chief Irvin “Dad” Bruce told her to “stop mixin’ colors”, she would not back down, and continued to allow whites into her club. She stated that denying white people access to her club went against our constitution. Fannie Mae took a stand for what she believed, and her rights do so.
Whether Fannie Mae was supporting our soldiers in war by opening a United Service Organization (USO) club, contributing to the growth of our culture with jazz, or finding new celebrities to entertain such as Flip Wilson (Comedian) who first joked at her Cotton Club, she took a stand for her beliefs and the things she valued. And of course, she took a stand to foster racial integration in America. Her most important stand was for her family.
You don’t have to be a successful entrepreneur or leader in racial integration to take a stand. You can take a stand for your family and loved ones and what you believe in, like Fannie Mae, to achieve your American Dream. Make sure that you eliminate speculating and gambling from your investments, and see them grow, using the scientific proven method of Nobel Prize winning Dr. Harry Markowitz and Dr. Eugene Fama.
Too often, the finances for the family are left for the husband to decide, while the woman stands by her man or partner. Although “Stand By Your Man” is a famous country song by Tammy Wynettte (wife of George Jones), it should not be a directive for managing the family investments. Men tend to let their emotions and ego rule their decision making. Our experience is that women tend to focus more on what is important for the family and the family relationships. Follow the path of Fannie Mae in taking a stand for what is important to you. Learn about the academic method of investing and how it could change your future.
~Whitney Smith, Stone Advisors
Images Courtesy of Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame
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