I just came across this video of Nettie Langston Napier and her husband J. C. Napier and I can’t help but stop, write and post this immediately.
Nettie Napier was a leader of black women’s organizations in Nashville, Tennessee, and became an honorary member of Zeta Phi Beta during the 1920s. Her father was John Mercer Langston, the first black dean of Howard Law and a Virginia Congressman, and she was a close relative of James Mercer Langston Hughes (Langston Hughes).
She studied at Howard and Oberlin’s Conservatory, and was considered a contralto with a rich and powerful voice. At the age of 18, she married J. C. Napier, a prominent lawyer, banker, and Register of the United States Treasury. One of the perks of his job was signing all printed currency, an honor that only five black people have ever had. On their 50th wedding anniversary, he gave Nettie 10 crisp $10 “J.C. Napier” bills. Such a boss!
I wish the video had sound, but without it you get to a chance to study and interpret body language without distraction. I think it’s adorable that she dusts his shoulders off. She looks like a woman who had a lot to say, and he comes across as the “ask me a question and I’ll answer it, no more” type of man. She’s so fluttery and it’s lovely. I think what translates the most for me is that they seem like they’re best friends. The video was shot nearly 60 years after they were married. They had some major struggles together, but in the end, I sense friendship, partnership, loyalty and love. And what more can one ask for in life?