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Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Canada, the Netherlands, Ireland and the United Kingdom also devote a month to celebrating black history. Black History Month is also referred to as National African American History Month. More
Retired American Army officer Colin Powell (1937-2021) served as national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan, and under President George H. W. Bush he became the first Black person to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989-1993). Then, under President George W. Bush, he became the first Black secretary of state. After retiring from government in 2005, Powell remained in the public eye as a speaker and memoirist. Full bio
Writer, professor, and social critic bell hooks was undeniably one of the most successful "cross-over" academics of the late twentieth century. Her name, as well as the criticisms of racism and sexism that she penned, were central to many academic discussions, and they were also read widely outside of the educational arena. Full bio
Poitier received awards and honors for both his tremendous body of work in film and his humanitarian efforts. He was named one of the AFI's 50 greatest screen legends. He was presented with the NAACP's Hall of Fame Award for his constant depiction of positive screen images. He was also honored by the Screen Actors Guild with a lifetime achievement award. Full bio
The life experiences of Maya Angelou--author, poet, actress, singer, dancer, playwright, director, producer--became the cornerstone of her most acclaimed work, a multivolume autobiography that traces the foundations of her identity as a twentieth-century American black woman. Full bio
The first African-American to serve on the Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall stood alone as the Supreme Court's liberal conscience toward the end of his career, the last impassioned spokesman on such causes as affirmative action, abolishment of the death penalty, and due process. Full bio
The historian and educator Carter Godwin Woodson was born in New Canton, in Buckingham County, Virginia. He was the first and only black American of slave parents to earn a Ph.D. in history. In 1915, in Chicago, he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and later founded the Journal of Negro History (now the Journal of African American History) and the Negro History Bulletin (now the Black History Bulletin). Full bio
Jane Bolin was the first black woman to graduate from Yale Law School, the first black woman to work as corporate counsel for the city of New York, the first black woman to be admitted to the Bar Association of the City of New York, and the first black woman judge in the United States. Full bio
One of the most talented and prolific writers to emerge from the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, Langston Hughes enjoyed a long and successful career as a poet and author of short stories, novels, magazine and newspaper articles, plays, and numerous other works. Full bio
New York congresswoman Shirley Chisholm was the the first black, as well as the first woman, to ever seek a major political party's nomination for the U.S. presidency. She demonstrated that aspirations for the nation's executive office need not be the exclusive domain of white males. Full bio
Jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane led one of most influential groups in the history of jazz. Inspired by the music of Africa, India, and the Far East, Coltrane brought together musical and cultural elements to make him one of the founders of a world music consciousness. Full bio
Arthur Ashe's 1993 memoir, aptly titled Days of Grace, is a reflection on his brief but rich life as a champion tennis player, a father, an African-American man, and a compassionate and courageous human being. Full bio
Rosa Parks sparked the Civil Rights Movement in 1955 when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama. Her arrest led to a Supreme Court decision that segregation on public transportation was illegal. Full bio
Alex Haley wrote the fact-based book Roots: The Saga of an American Family. Haley's account of his ancestor Kunta Kinte, who was captured by slave traders in 1767 and brought to America against his will, won a special Pulitzer Prize and a citation from the National Book Award committee. Full bio
After her escape from slavery in 1849, Harriet Tubman defiantly reentered the south approximately 19 times to lead more than 300 men, women, and children, to freedom via the 'Underground Railroad'. During the Civil War, Tubman served the North's Union Army as a nurse, scout, and spy. Full bio
Barbara Smith Conrad made headlines in 1957 after having been cast opposite a white male student in the University of Texas at Austin's production of the opera Dido and Aeneas. Segregationists objected to the interracial casting, and the Texas Legislature successfully pressured university administrators to pull her from the role. The resulting uproar attracted national attention. She went on to have an internationally acclaimed career as an opera singer. Full bio
Ballet dancer Misty Copeland emerged as a new icon of physical strength and classical grace as a soloist with the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) of New York City. Her best-selling memoir Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, published in 2014, detailed the struggles the biracial dancer encountered on her rise to the top of her profession. Full bio
Richard Wright stands as a major literary figure of the 1930s and '40s, his writings a departure from those of the Harlem Renaissance school. Steeped in the literary naturalism of the Depression era, Wright's work expresses a realistic and brutal portrayal of white society's oppression of African Americans. Full bio
In the years since his assassination on April 4, 1968, as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, Martin Luther King Jr. has evolved from a prominent civil rights leader into the symbol of the civil rights movement in the United States. Full bio
A member of the Black Panther party, Elaine Brown moved up the ranks to the helm as chairperson in 1974--the highest-ranking woman in the party and second in command only to the party's founder, Huey P. Newton. Her rise from obscurity in Philadelphia's ghetto to notoriety as a political activist is a story of a black woman's struggle for change. Full Bio
Malcolm X was an African American Muslim leader and Black nationalist activist whose militant advocacy of Black pride, separatism, and armed self-defense foreshadowed the Black Power movement of the late 1960s. He was born on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, and was assassinated on February 21, 1965, in New York City.
"A fascinating, if disturbing, window onto the origins of racism." --Publishers Weekly "The eighteenth-century essays published for the first time in Who's Black and Why? contain a world of ideas--theories, inventions, and fantasies--about what blackness is, and what it means. To read them is to witness European intellectuals, in the age of the Atlantic slave trade, struggling, one after another, to justify atrocity." --Jill Lepore, author of These Truths: A History of the United States The first translation and publication of sixteen submissions to the notorious eighteenth-century Bordeaux essay contest on the cause of black skin--an indispensable chronicle of the rise of scientifically based, anti-Black racism. In 1739 Bordeaux's Royal Academy of Sciences announced a contest for the best essay on the sources of "blackness." What is the physical cause of blackness and African hair, and what is the cause of Black degeneration, the contest announcement asked. Sixteen essays, written in French and Latin, were ultimately dispatched from all over Europe. The authors ranged from naturalists to physicians, theologians to amateur savants. Documented on each page are European ideas about who is Black and why. Looming behind these essays is the fact that some four million Africans had been kidnapped and shipped across the Atlantic by the time the contest was announced. The essays themselves represent a broad range of opinions. Some affirm that Africans had fallen from God's grace; others that blackness had resulted from a brutal climate; still others emphasized the anatomical specificity of Africans. All the submissions nonetheless circulate around a common theme: the search for a scientific understanding of the new concept of race. More important, they provide an indispensable record of the Enlightenment-era thinking that normalized the sale and enslavement of Black human beings. These never previously published documents survived the centuries tucked away in Bordeaux's municipal library. Translated into English and accompanied by a detailed introduction and headnotes written by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Andrew Curran, each essay included in this volume lays bare the origins of anti-Black racism and colorism in the West.
Choice Outstanding Academic Title While bus boycotts, sit-ins, and other acts of civil disobedience were the engine of the civil rights movement, the law provided context for these events. Lawyers played a key role amid profound political and social upheavals, vindicating clients and together challenging white supremacy. Here, in their own voices, twenty-six lawyers reveal the abuses they endured and the barriers they broke as they fought for civil rights.These eyewitness accounts provide unique windows into some of the most dramatic moments in civil rights history--the 1965 Selma March, the first civil judgment against the Ku Klux Klan, the creation of ballot access for African Americans in Alabama, and the 1968 Democratic Convention. The narratives depict attorney-client relationships extraordinary in their mutual trust and commitment to risk-taking. White and black, male and female, northern- and southern-born, these recruits in the battle for freedom helped shape a critical chapter of American history.Contributors: Henry M. Aronson | Larry Aschenbrenner | Fred Banks | Reber Boult | John C. Brittain | Armand Derfner | Jack Drake | Malcolm ("Mac") Farmer | William Ferguson | Fred D. Gray | Jim Lewis | Elliott Lichtman | Barbara Schechter Lipman | David Lipman | Don H. Marmaduke | John L. Maxey | Laughlin McDonald | Larry Menefee | Dennis Roberts | Solomon Seay | Norman Siegel | Constance "Connie" Slaughter-Harvey | Richard Sobol, Sebastopol | Richard H. Tuttle
Treating broad themes as well as specific topics, this guide to the Great Black Migration will introduce high school students to a touchstone critical to shaping the history of African Americans in the United States. The movement of Southern blacks to the urban North and West over the course of the 20th century had a profound impact on black life, affecting everything from politics and labor to literature and the popular arts. This encyclopedia provides readers and researchers with a comprehensive reference work on this central topic of African American history, exploring the breadth of the black migration experience from its origins in the agricultural economy of the post-Civil War South to the return migration of the late 20th century. Entries cover such topics as the destinations that attracted black migrants, the impact of the Great Migration on black religion, the relationship between migration and black politics, and the patterns of discrimination and racial violence migrants encountered. Unlike more general reference works on African American history, each entry in the encyclopedia situates its subject within the context of black migration and articulates connections between the subject of the entry and the overall history of the migration. Provides students with essential information about key people, places, organizations, and events that defined the movement of Southern African Americans to the urban North and West Covers the first major migration between the advent of World War I and the Great Depression and the second, smaller wave from 1940 to 1970 Devotes considerable space to the social, cultural, and political world of black migrant communities of the urban North and West Includes primary sources to promote critical thinking and interpretive reading underscored in the Common Core Standards Features contributions from a wide range of disciplines, including art and music history, demography, economics, journalism, history, literary criticism, political science, and sociology
This fascinating biography tells the story of nineteenth-century America through the life of one of its most charismatic and influential characters: Sojourner Truth. In an in-depth account of this amazing activist, Margaret Washington unravels Sojourner Truth's world within the broader panorama of African American slavery and the nation's most significant reform era. Born into bondage among the Hudson Valley Dutch in Ulster County, New York, Isabella was sold several times, married, and bore five children before fleeing in 1826 with her infant daughter one year before New York slavery was abolished. In 1829, she moved to New York City, where she worked as a domestic, preached, joined a religious commune, and then in 1843 had an epiphany. Changing her name to Sojourner Truth, she began traveling the country as a champion of the downtrodden and a spokeswoman for equality by promoting Christianity, abolitionism, and women's rights. Gifted in verbal eloquence, wit, and biblical knowledge, Sojourner Truth possessed an earthy, imaginative, homespun personality that won her many friends and admirers and made her one of the most popular and quoted reformers of her times. Washington's biography of this remarkable figure considers many facets of Sojourner Truth's life to explain how she became one of the greatest activists in American history, including her African and Dutch religious herita≥ her experiences of slavery within contexts of labor, domesticity, and patriarchy; and her profoundly personal sense of justice and intuitive integrity. Organized chronologically into three distinct eras of Truth's life, Sojourner Truth's America examines the complex dynamics of her times, beginning with the transnational contours of her spirituality and early life as Isabella and her embroilments in legal controversy. Truth's awakening during nineteenth-century America's progressive surge then propelled her ascendancy as a rousing preacher and political orator despite her inability to read and write. Throughout the book, Washington explores Truth's passionate commitment to family and community, including her vision for a beloved community that extended beyond race, gender, and socioeconomic condition and embraced a common humanity. For Sojourner Truth, the significant model for such communalism was a primitive, prophetic Christianity. Illustrated with dozens of images of Truth and her contemporaries, Sojourner Truth's America draws a delicate and compelling balance between Sojourner Truth's personal motivations and the influences of her historical context. Washington provides important insights into the turbulent cultural and political climate of the age while also separating the many myths from the facts concerning this legendary American figure.
The proof of any group's importance to history is in the detail, a fact made plain by this informative book's day-by-day documentation of the impact of African Americans on life in the United States. One of the easiest ways to grasp any aspect of history is to look at it as a continuum. African American History Day by Day: A Reference Guide to Events provides just such an opportunity. Organized in the form of a calendar, this book allows readers to see the dates of famous births, deaths, and events that have affected the lives of African Americans and, by extension, of America as a whole. Each day features an entry with information about an important event that occurred on that date. Background on the highlighted event is provided, along with a link to at least one primary source document and references to books and websites that can provide more information. While there are other calendars of African American history, this one is set apart by its level of academic detail. It is not only a calendar, but also an easy-to-use reference and learning tool. More than 365 chronologically arranged entries featuring events and information about African Americans An introduction that overviews the importance of African American history in a day-by-day approach A preface that explains the scope, methodology, and rationale for coverage Primary source excerpts for some events and two vetted books and websites for all events