Philippa Schuyler, Called The “Shirley Temple of American Negroes”


Philippa Schuyler was born on August 2, 1931 in New York City. She was a child prodigy who achieved fame in the late 1930’s and 40s because of her musical talents, but also due to her mixed race. She was acknowledged for being the “Shirley Temple of American Negroes.” She was born to George S. Schulyer who was as conservative journalist and mother, Josephine Cogdell as wealthy white Texan who was once a swimsuit and beauty model. Cogdell, and to some degree Schuyler believed that a mixed-race marriage would produce a prodigious offspring and improve the power struggle between the white and black race. The parents called this the “hybrid vigor.”


Cogdell was very domineering to her daughter. She fed her raw foods, including raw meat and undercooked vegetables. Her home life was a struggle. Schuyler found fame as a pianist, but tragedy struck when she realized that she was nothing more than a social experiment created by her parents. Schuyler was the victim of her mother’s fanatical obsession with the idea that the white race needed to be saved by mating with Blacks.

Schuyler was often beat and kept from the public by her mother. Her mother would sabotage relationships if anyone tried to get to close to Schyler. Schyler found out via newspaper clippings in a scrapbook noting her achievements that her parents thought of her as a new breed. Schuyler continued to perform, but when her career was stopped due to race, she found a way to get around it. She branded herself as an Iberian descent named Felipa Monterro y Schuyler. Schuyler eventually stopped playing the piano in her 30s and became a journalist like her father.


According to Black America Web, “On May 9, 1967 while in Vietnam as a war correspondent, Schuyler was embedded on a helicopter mission near Da Nang when the aircraft plunged into the sea. Schuyler survived the crash but drowned because she couldn’t swim. Her mother was so distraught over her daughter’s loss that she committed suicide the following year.” (Black America Web)




1 Comment

  • Jeanette Mayes Parker October 8, 2017 - 12:38 pm Reply

    Wow, didn’t know this! Thank

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