African American history

  • Annette Gordon-Reed: Don't Accept "Cuddly" King Image

    The late leader's opposition to militarism, economic injustice, and white supremacy, which sustained a broad critique of capitalist society, have been sanitized and reduced to platitudes by people who would prefer not to recognize the equality of all people, the historian told the annual MLK Memorial Breakfast. 

  • The Indomitable Rev. Addie L. Wyatt

    by Kim Kelly

    After starting at Armour's Chicago cannery at age 17, Addie Wyatt rose through the ranks of her local union to lead workers across five states, recognizing the connection between workers' power and racial and gender equality and linking midwestern unions to the southern civil rights struggle. 

  • Sidney Poitier Set the Template for Barack Obama

    by Aram Goudsouzian

    Sidney Poitier's portrayals of characters whose self-contained charm, virtue and dignity obliterated previous racist stereotypes in film but also excluded the frustrations and anger of contemporary African Americans were a model for Barack Obama's campaign promise to heal America's racial wounds.

  • Art and the Free South

    "For the Free Southern Theater’s members, bringing the stage to the countryside made political education accessible while enabling artists to participate in politics."

  • Poetry and the Struggle for Justice

    by Paul Lewis

    "During the antebellum period, newspapers and magazines featured poems that advanced a wide range of causes, including women’s rights, peace, and temperance" – and abolition.

  • Sidney Poitier Gave More than He was Given

    by Samantha N. Sheppard

    Sidney Poitier's gift and burden as an actor was to constantly deliver more than his scripts contained, pushing the limits of Black representation in Hollywood films. 

  • Lawrence Brooks, Oldest Surviving WWII Veteran, Dies at 112

    "Throughout his service in Australia, Brooks enjoyed a level of freedom he'd never experienced before, either in the military or at home. In interviews with the National World War II Museum, he marveled over that country's acceptance of Black soldiers, which were a marked contrast to the racist Jim Crow laws of the south at the time."

  • Sidney Poitier, First Black Man to Win Best Actor Oscar, Dies at 94

    The actor's performances reflected the social tensions at the rise of the Civil Rights movement, advancing beyond the caricatured and one-dimensional characters prior Black actors were given to play, and often embodying the tensions between moderate and militant factions of the Black freedom movement.

  • A Blueprint for Leadership from 1980s Chicago

    by Brentin Mock

    Harold Washington faced stiff resistance from his own party when he became Chicago's first Black mayor in 1983; his response stressing public infrastructure and voting rights foreshadowed the Biden administration's efforts to overcome intransigence and obstructionism. 

  • "When Harlem was in Vogue" at 40

    by Shane Graham

    "Because the book is, at its core, an institutional history, it probes deep behind the scenes of the Renaissance. Lewis focuses not just on the artists, but on the tireless efforts of a small group of people to promote and support those artists, and on the organizations and publications that made the whole movement possible."

  • The 1619 Project and the Demands of Public History

    by Lauren Michele Jackson

    "In spite of all of the ugly evidence it has assembled, the 1619 Project ultimately seeks to inspire faith in the American project, just as any conventional social-studies curriculum would."

  • Justice Department Closes Emmett Till Investigation Without Charges

    Historian Timothy Tyson wrote in a 2017 book that witness Carolyn Bryant Donham disavowed her testimony that Till had grabbed her and made suggestive remarks before he was lynched. The DOJ has said that materials given them by Tyson did not corroborate the claim of a recantation.