Copacetic – Bill Bojangles Robinson got the nickname “Bo jangles” from “jangler,” meaning contentious, and invented the phrase “Everything’s Copacetic,” meaning tip-top.
Many years ago living in Columbus, Ohio my husband was Vice President of an organization that worked with the Lincoln Theater. It is a historical theater located in what once known as the “Blackberry Patch”. It was lively part of Columbus African-American community. My husband and I went into the building before it was renovated. It was destroyed from time. We did a walk through in the building because my husband was trying to secure thousands of dollar of grants to get it restored. The Egyptian type decor from the 1920 rang throughout the building. The roof has been open and the build had severe water damage. It has been renovated and restored by many dedicated people in Columbus. One of the fascinating fact we found out about the building was all the great black vaudeville performers that had performed there. One of them was Bill “Bojangle” Robinson. In one of his famous photo of tapping down on the step in a black tux , it was taken at the Lincoln in Columbus Ohio.
Many of the great black vaudeville performers had to “do what they had to do” to break the color barrier in Hollywood. That problem still exist today. I respect the many performers that paved the way in the midst of racism and discrimination. I have had to endure racism to pioneer new ventures for the arts. Bojangles paved the way in many ways. He created and coined a phrase that is still used today: Copacetic. It means everything is just fine. I started using this phrase after I found out he had authored it. It is a cool way to express a good day or easy-going mood. The word is ingenuous!
His ability to dance was legendary. Fred Astaire had great respect for him. Astaire had to do a role in a movie that required him to dress in black face. Later he regretted that decision out of honor for Bojangles. He is more than a dancer, he is a legend. Eddie Anderson who played Rochester on the Jack Benny show also was an amazing dancer. Below is a short clip of his amazing comedic ability to dance. Many of their dancers are forerunners for a lot of the modern dance seen today. Even Breakdancing and Moon Walking!
After falling in love with the words Copacetic we produced a TV show on PBS in Colorado Springs to bring to life the black community’s talent and ability called “ Copacetic”. We also started a local art group with many other artists called O’hoho which is Swahili for “ laughter”.
The TV Show aired in the spring in 1999- 2000. We have footage for many other shows we were never able to use because we headed back to the east coast for our kids. Dr. Anthony Young a psychologist and founder of Tutmose Academy was our first interview. He also let us use his school for coffeehouses open mics. We also worked with Urban League of Pikes Peak. Dr. Young has amazing insights to the conditions of blacks in American and a holistic way of healing.
A friend ours named Bengi emcee the show while I filmed . It was my first time editing a TV show. I worded with Tim Mitchell who is with the Navigator. He had an editing/ film business. We had flat outside his house our first year in the Springs and became great friends. Only God knew that a few years letter we would he would teach me to edit the show. I also wrote the theme song and recorded incase it sounds a little strange.
We didn’t have much to work with except for an urge to highlight the black community. Studying black history and painting it for years gave me the desire to make sure new talent, artists, and the leadership in our black community is highlighted. Bojangles pioneered a new word. We wanted to pioneer new talent , artists, rappers, jazz, leaders, and activists with others that needed a place to share their gift. Below it the first show of copacetic! More films, animation, and short t come! Copacetic!