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Blog Posts by Subject: African American Studies

Django Unchained: Lorraine Hansberry Unbridled

Angelic stranger, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) grants freedom to hapless Texas slave Django (Jamie Foxx). Schultz, a kindly German dentist-turned-bounty hunter, provides Django with employment, trusting friendship and his first handgun. Django is reborn as a slave-turned-bounty hunter, becoming a vengeful black American superman on a dangerous and deadly mission to free his lovely German-educated wife, Broomhilda von Shaft (Kerry Washington), from a Mississippi cotton plantation.

Django Unchained, directed by

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Manhattan Woman and 20,000 Slaves

Genealogical Ties That Bind.

African Burial Ground Map OverlayWe met at the Chambers Street IRT subway station — Lynn Jencks, descendant of an early Dutch family, and me, descendant of Lenape, Dutch and Africans. About 400 years ago, Dutch and enslaved Africans arrived into the ancient Algonquian wilderness that became New York City. Lynn, who lives in Illinois, had never been to the property owned by her ancestors and worked upon by slaves.

"Christopher guided me out of the subway and we emerged into the crisp clear December 

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Clicks to the Black World

Digital Schomburg's online exhibitions on various aspects of the black experience have truly become a global phenomenon. They are attracting visitors from all over the world. From Argentina to Zimbabwe and Montenegro and the Maldives in between. What do they know that perhaps you don't?

In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience remains the most visited curated exhibition of The New York Public Library. With a few clicks, visitors from 206 countries and territories, including Kazakhstan, Tonga, Suriname, Mongolia and Malawi, 

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The Thing That Makes You Exceptional: Lorraine Hansberry in the Village

Lorraine Hansberry lived at 337 Bleecker Street. Her birthday is May 19.

A Raisin in the Sun was the first play written by an African American woman to be produced on Broadway. Here are some 

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April and Einstein on Race and Racism in Paris

This April — Fred Jerome and I, authors of Einstein on Race & Racism (2005) went to Paris for the unveiling of the French edition of our book.

Einstein at Lincoln UniversityThe title in French means Einstein - anti-racist - Quite fitting because our book focuses on Albert Einstein's little 

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A Poem A Day

April is National Poetry Month, and I promised myself to read a poem a day. Some poets of the black experience immediately came to mind: Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Claude McKay, Sonia Sanchez, Audrey Lorde, to name a few. But then I decided to venture unto new territory and immerse myself into recent works.

I selected four great poets — and distinguished scholars training new generations — who published collections in 2010 and 2011. I found history, current events and the future in their works; and grace, beauty, heartache, struggles and 

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Gilbert King's "Devil in the Grove": Thurgood Marshall and A Cry of Rape

Arguably the most important American lawyer of the 20th century, Thurgood Marshall was on the verge of bringing the landmark suit Brown versus Board of Education when he became embroiled in an explosive and deadly case that threatened to change the course of the civil rights movement and cost him his life. Author Gilbert King's new book Devil in the Grove, published later this month by HarperCollins, is the definitive 

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Celebrating the Life of Janet Collins, an African-American Pioneer in Dance

Night's Dancer: The Life of Janet Collins, by Yaël Tamar Lewin

The headlines about her death called her the first African American ballerina of the Metropolitan Opera, but Janet Collins was much more than that. A new biography, Night’s Dancer: The Life 

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Musical of the Month: Shuffle Along

A guest post & edition by Brian D. Valencia

When Shuffle Along opened at the 63rd Street Music Hall on May 23, 1921, it marked the return of all-black musical shows to Broadway after nearly a decade-long silence. The last successful musical wholly written and performed by African Americans to be performed south of Harlem had been the George Walker–Bert Williams vehicle Bandanna Land in 1908. When Walker fell ill on its tour, Williams was left to star alone in the following year’s Mr. Lode of Koal, which ran only half as long as its predecessor with half of its 

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What Does Freedom Mean to You?

Freedom was a very hard and dangerous trek. Do you think you could make it if you had to try?

If you didn’t have someone like Harriet Tubman, also known as Moses, to help you, would you still be able to go through the dangerous journey? Imagine yourself a slave in the fields, hearing the song “

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Nikky Finney Wins National Book Award in Poetry

On November 16, Nikky Finney received the 2011 National Book Award in Poetry for her book Head Off & Split. Political, sensual, historical, imaginative, Finney’s poems speak of struggle, beauty, love, and race with passion and tenderness. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, where she has been teaching for several years, congratulates her on 

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Gold, Freedom, Faith, and Baroque in Brazil

I had not slept for 34 hours. After a bad flight and two long bus trips, I was hiking, ecstatic, in a muddy mine. I touched the walls from top to bottom. Perhaps “he” had put his hands there too. I was walking in the steps of Galanga, renamed Francisco, and known as Chico Rei (King Chico).

Story -or legend-has it that 270 years ago, Chico Rei, believed to have been a ruler in Congo, his family, and others were forced aboard a slave ship. The Middle Passage took his wife and children, but he and one son survived. They landed in Brazil and were sent to Vila 

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1988: The Year Hip-Hop Made Noise

I met this girl, when I was 10 years old And what I loved most, she had so much soul Lyrics from "I Used to Love H.E.R." by Common

Former Actor and California Governor, Ronald Wilson Reagan was the President, while in New York City Edward Irving Koch was nearing the end of his Mayoral run. The Cold War was nearing its end and for many kids growing up in the South Bronx in the early '80s, there were more important things to worry about, than what Communists were doing on the other side of the globe. Crack Cocaine and HIV/AIDS had their grip on nearly every inner city 

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The Autobiography in Arabic of a Senegalese Enslaved in North Carolina

In 1831, Omar ibn Said, a Senegalese trader and Qur'anic teacher enslaved in North Carolina, wrote his autobiography in Arabic. It is the only known surviving slave narrative written in that language in the Americas. On October 13, at 6pm at the Schomburg Center, Yale Professor Ala Alryyes will present A Muslim American Slave: The Life of Omar Ibn Said, which features 

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Further Reading: Activism Through Poetry

Slam poetry is a new and unique development in modern literature. Activism through poetry, however, has been around for as long as the art form itself has. I’ve never had a cup of coffee and talked shop with any of the Urban Word Masterpoets, but I’d love to. I want to share some of the history and tradition of activism in African-American art and culture. Best of all, books and CDs of all of the artists mentioned here are available at your local 

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Harlem Library Cinema Series @ George Bruce - June 2011

The freedoms that we take for granted today across the spectrum of American society were not easily achieved. They were hard won—through struggle, self-sacrifice and even death.

The Civil Rights Movement is a case in point. The gains that this movement afforded African-Americans were won through blood, sweat, tears and yes death. One of the seminal events in this movement were the Freedom Rides, and the violent reactions they provoked.

"Freedom Riders," the June film screening from The National Black 

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Harlem Library Cinema Series @ George Bruce - April 2011

Spring is here! (Finally.) All around us nature is awakening from winter's slumber and pushing forth new life and new growth. Why not reawaken yor mind and spirit each month with the stimulating, thought provoking and engaging films from the National Black Programming Consortium. Join us for our Spring season of films. As usual the screenings will take place on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 5:30 pm.

  April's screening (scheduled for April 13th) is entitled Colored Frames and it highlights ... Read More ›

Sneaky Ways You Can Shape Our Collections

You may have noticed while browsing the collection at your local branch that it seems like we’ve been making a lot of shelving mistakes lately. On the back of most books you will notice a sticker with the name of the branch it originally came from, but you're probably seeing the names of branches other than the one you’re standing in. As of April 2010, the library quietly made a fundamental change to our branch collections. In the past, when a user checked out a book “owned” by the Epiphany branch but returned it at Seward Park, our shipping system would send the 

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Paisley Demby, B-plan Competition Guru, on Why Savvy Start-ups Use Business Advisors

Can’t think of a more apt way to wrap my trio of Black History Month postings (1, 2) on entrepreneurship than a chat with Paisley Demby. A familiar figure in the New York City  small business community—formerly at both the Queens Economic Development Corporation and CAMBA—Paisley has helped to launch the two 

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