Honoring black lives who gave us Big Apple & Big Easy; Barclays misquote

The billionaire owners of the Brooklyn Nets and New Orleans Pelicans can do very simple things to honor the black lives who gave us "Big Apple" & "Big Easy." I'm a penniless scholar and I am requesting help. I had written much of this on previous NetsDaily posts about social justice issues, but it should be formally presented on a fanpost here..



"I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I can no longer accept" is a quote credited to Angela Davis that is inside the oculus of the Barclays Center. It is listed in the discussion page of Angela Davis's Wikiquote page, under "unsourced."

The quotation, of course, borrows from the famous Serenity Prayer: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."

"If I’m not home accepting what I can’t change, I’m probably out changing what I can’t accept" was posted in newspapers on October 18, 1978, in the "Pot-Shots" syndicated feature by cartoonist Ashleigh Brilliant.

"I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change! I am changing the things I cannot accept!" was posted on Twitter by Amanda Blake on November 1, 2010. "‘I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept’ - Angela Davis" was posted on Twitter by NativeSon on March 6, 2013.

Angela Davis is alive and we can ask her about the quotation. However, Twitter is very comprehensive and Davis has written and spoken a lot, but I find no citations crediting her before 2013. There is no reason to believe that Angela Davis either originated or popularized this quotation.

The Barclays Center can either leave a misquotation up, or replace it with something else.



Gayle Benson owns the New Orleans Saints (NFL), the New Orleans Pelicans (NBA), and Dixie Beer (a brand that is changing its name). On Canal Street Chronicles (Saints blog) here at SB Nation, I posted this fanpost on July 6th:

"Big Easy" was popularized in the 1960s among the black jazz musicians of New Orleans, and I have discovered 1960s citations to back this up. What is needed is for the States-Item (1960-1980) and for the black periodical Louisiana Weekly (1925-present) to be digitized immediately, while people are still alive. The States-Item pushed for New Orleans to have a football team, and a name-the-team contest chose the "Saints" nickname. There probably is a "Who Dat?" cite in the States-Item in the 1970s.

Newspapers are being digitized all the time, by such companies as and and ProQuest Historical Newspapers and Chronicling America (Library of Congress and the National Digital Newspaper Project). The States-Item and the Louisiana Weekly are currently locked up in closed libraries.

I have spoken with someone on the New Orleans Saints, and maybe these simple things can finally get done.



"Big Apple" is 100 years old. The nickname was coined by a black stablehand at the Fair Grounds racetrack in New Orleans, who has still never been honored. "Big Apple" was popularized by New York Morning Telegraph track writer John J. Fitz Gerald, who died in poverty in his mid-Manhattan welfare hotel and is buried in a still-unmarked grave in St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands, NY.

In January 2020, the "Big Apple" story made the Wall Street Journal, Gothamist, WNYC radio, and the Daily Mail (London):

The next step was to speak with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, the person who just ordered "Black Lives Matter" painted in every borough.That got done right away! I wrote to, but that is like writing to Santa Claus. Nothing. I have tweeted WNYC's "Ask the Mayor" every week, but the #AsktheMayor segment has been canceled a lot lately, and my question is never asked. I also sent the tweets to @NYCMayor and @NYCMayorsOffice, but no one ever responds.

I have sent emails to the Manhattan borough president, two Manhattan community boards and the public advocate. No one in New York City government responds at all.

If anyone on the Brooklyn Nets (a team I have been a vocal fan of for 45 years) wants to preserve New York City history that is also black history, they can do these things:

DIGITIZE THE NEW YORK MORNING TELEGRAPH--The New York Morning Telegraph (1900-1972) was the leading horse racing daily in the country. The rights are now owned by the Daily Racing Form. Keeneland (NC) Library has digitized the Daily Racing Form and has long wanted to add the Morning Telegraph. The New York Public Library has all the Morning Telegraph reels, but they are locked up in a closed library. For the price of the Angela Davis ad at Barclays, the Morning Telegraph in the 1920s could have been digitized.

What is to be found? John J. Fitz Gerald admitted in 1924 and 1926 that he had heard "Big Apple" from a black stablehand in New Orleans. There could be another admission that I had missed. In the late 1950s, Aqueduct called itself the "Big A," and there might be a "Big Apple" explanation along with this.

In 1926, I found the story explaining how Shep Friedman called Broadway the "Great White Way." The Morning Telegraph was the leading daily newspaper of Broadway, vaudeville and the movies. The word "movies" itself might have been coined here. "Oscar" was coined in the New York Daily News in 1934 by Sidney Skolsky, but an important "Oscar" explanation is surely in the Morning Telegraph.

There was a daily column titled "The Town in Review" by Beau Broadway. It was New York's longest running gossip column. Walter WInchell wrote it for a year. New York Mayor Jimmy Walker was probably called "Beau James" in this column. The Morning Telegraph "Harlemania" column helped white New Yorkers discover Harlem in the 1930s.

PUT "BIG APPLE" PLAQUES IN NEW ORLEANS AND NEW YORK--The two (or three?) columns that mention the "Big Apple" story should be bronzed and put in the Fair Gounds in New Orleans and at "Big Apple Corner" in New York City. Although I dedicated that honorary street sign at Broadway and West 54th Street (where John J. Fitz Gerald died) in 1997, it is not explained in any way.

GET HARLEM'S 1934 "BIG APPLE" SIGN BACK--In 1934, a "Big Apple" restaurant/nightclub opened in Harlem at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue (Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd). The iconic "Big Apple" sign (never landmarked) existed until 2006, when a Popeye's fast food restaurant almost destroyed it. Someone saved the sign and still has it. For what was paid for the Angela Davis misquote. someone could have bought the 1934 Big Apple sign. It should be returned to the corner (with an explanatory plaque added), or put in the Museum of the City of New York, or the New-York Historical Society, or in City Hall.


The billionaire owners of the Brooklyn Nets and the New Orleans Saints (NFL)/Pelicans (NBA) can honor the black lives who gave us "Big Apple" and "Big Easy." (I have also suggested that Dixie Beer be renamed "Big Easy Beer.")

Or you can do nothing, people with memories of this history will all die, and it will be lost forever.

"We's goin' to 'the big apple.'" -- a real quote, from a forgotten and unhonored black stablehand.