By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer
LONG BEACH – It would be easy to say Hope Foye was ahead of her time. But it may be better to say Foye was one of those who set the stage – and paid the price – for many African-American pioneers to follow.
The story of Hope Foye is one of a performing artist who neither abided by nor fit prescribed rules and roles, who fought the system and challenged prevailing ideologies.
“When you discover injustice, you don’t just close your mind to it,” Foye says. “It was born in me to do something about (injustice). I am lucky to have had the gift for expressing myself.”
Had she been a different person, maybe she could have shared the stage with Ella Fitzgerald or Lena Horne.
Maybe she could have realized her dream of singing for the New York Metropolitan Opera.
Maybe she wouldn’t have been stigmatized like contemporaries such as Pete Seeger and her role model, Paul Robeson.
Maybe she wouldn’t have been punished by the McCarran Committee, which along with the House on Un-American Activities Committee carried many of the unseemly inquiries of McCarthy Era politics.
But in good conscience, Foye could never change who she was and what she believed. She became not a faceless member of the early civil rights days, but a face that may have deserved a much bigger spotlight.
She became an internationally recognized singer and opera star in countries such as Mexico, Switzerland, Israel and Germany, but remains largely unknown in the homeland that rejected her.
On Tuesday, the Central Area Association and Union Bank of California, as part of Women’s History Month, are celebrating Foye for her efforts as an artist and activist with a conversation and performance by the 86-year-old San Pedro resident.
It is the latest celebration in a flurry of recognition for Foye, who has suddenly jumped into public consciousness.
Source: Long Beach Press-Telegraph News