A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from June 24, 2015
“If it is to be, it is up to me”

"If it is to be, it is up to me” is an motivational saying that has been printed on posters.  The saying has been cited in print since at least 1959 and is of unknown authorship.

African-American painter William H. Johnson (1901-1970) has been credited with the saying since at least 1996, but there is no evidence that he was the first person to say it.

23 April 1959, Camden (AR) News, “Texarkana Lions Present Program,” pg. 1, col. 4:
“We as Lions are doing things”, Dr.Hubert Shull, of Texarkana, told the Camden Lions Club Wednesday noon at Hotel Camden. “Our chief mission is to help everything that is good”, he said. Ten I words we should always remember Dr. Shull said are, “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

18 April 1961, Albert Lea (MN) Tribune, “Cancer Fund Drive Opens In County,” pg. 5, col. 2:
“Each of us has a responsibility in the fight against cancer.” she added, “which can be summed up in these two-letter words: If it is to be. it is up to me.
(Mrs. Darell Beaty, volunteer activities chairman of the Freeborn County Unit of the American Cancer Society.—ed.)

22 April 1961, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), sec. 2, pg. 6, col. 5 ad:
Methodist Church
Wm. O. Byrd, Pastor

16 September 1962, The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk-Portsmouth, VA), “Early Peanut Digging Becomes Grave Financial Error” by Farmer Pettyjohn, pg. I-4, col. 8:
As the Birdsong Peanut School was closing, Mr. Ben gave us some advice I wish could be emblazoned on the heart and mind of every man producing Virginia-type peanuts—“If it is to be—it’s up to me!”

28 December 1963, San Diego (CA) Union, “That Mysterious Brain” (editorial), pg. B-2, col. 1:
“If it is to be, it is up to me.” There is a truism that defies simplification.

OCLC WorldCat record
If it is to be, it is up to me
Author: J Lewis Powell; BNA Communications.
Publisher: Rockville, Ma. : BNA Communications, inc., 1978.
Edition/Format: VHS video : VHS tape : NTSC color broadcast system Visual material : English
Database: WorldCat
This film is intended to increase your organisation’s creativity, productivity and profit.

Google News Archive
16 May 1996, The Jewell County Post (Mankato, KS), pg. 9, col. 4:
If it is to be,
it is up to me.
-- William H. Johnson

OCLC WorldCat record
If it’s to be, it’s up to me! : the ABC’s of character building
Author: Sally Snyder
Publisher: Wilmington, Ohio : Orange Frazer Press, ©2008.
Edition/Format: Print book : Fiction : Juvenile audience : English

Google Books
Profound States of Despair:
A Developmental and Systems Approach to Treating Emptiness

By Charles R. Wang
Boca Raton, FL: Universal Publishers
Pg. 95:
“If it is to be, it is up to me.” -William H. Johnson

Nestlé USA Careers
“If it is to be, It is up to me.” - William H. Johnson #Inspiration
12:00 PM - 10 Dec 2014

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Wednesday, June 24, 2015 • Permalink