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Blog Posts by Subject: African American Studies

Black History Month: Celebrating African American Heritage

Black History Month was first observed as Negro History Week by Historian

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WOW @ The Library in Celebration of African-American Heritage

Wonders Of Women (WOW) features a mosaic of selected titles including recent resources on self-help, as well as powerful narratives by and about extraordinary African-American women, will submerge the reader into a journey of discovery from the past to the present.

At the Dark End of the Street: Black women, Rape, and Resistance—A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power


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American Rags-to-Riches Mythos: The Madam C. J. Walker Saga, Part 1

"I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of Manufacturing hair goods and preparations. I have built my own factory on my own ground. Madam Walker National Negro Business League Convention, July 1912." Bundles, A'Lelia. Madam C.J. Walker, 2009.

Almost every school child has heard of

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Great Albums You May Have Missed: The Temptations' Give Love at Christmas (1980)

Do you constantly find yourself humming the tune of "The Little Drummer Boy" during the holiday season as if it were a new and infectious single by the Black Eyed Peas? For some reason, the holiday season makes me long for something a little more festive playing through my mp3 player’s headphones as I walk to the Kingsbridge Branch on a blustery New York winter morning.

In 1980,

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Great Albums You May Have Missed: Mongo Santamaria's Afro-Roots (1958-1959)

In every corner of the world, as far back in history as the time machines of archaeology and anthropology can take us, music has been used by humans to communicate with the gods. It’s hard to remember in our world today, steeped as it is in the bubblegum profanity of pop culture; but Mongo Santamaria’s album, Afro-Roots, reminds us. It is a gateway into the spirit-world. The conga drum itself is our metaphysical guide, bridging the gap between the visible and invisible worlds, and thus bringing us into direct contact 

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Harlem Library Cinema Series @ George Bruce - December 2010

The New York Public Library, George Bruce Library and the National Black Programming Consortium are proud to bring you these free film screenings.

Scene from "Uprooted"

Join us! The screenings will take place on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 5:30 PM.

The third screening of the Fall (scheduled for December 8th) is entitled Uprooted. Here is a brief description from the NBPC site:

Uprooted is an intimate 

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"Portrait of Harlem" at George Bruce through September 30 and at Hamilton Grange from November 5-30

Lenore Browne, Morning Stroll, 2009 Harlem is an iconic place, a fabled community, a vibrant hub of African-American culture and pride known the world over. Its essence has been captured in music—"Take the A Train" by Duke Ellington, in literature—The Street by Ann Petry The Street and photography—Art Kane's 1958—"Great Day in Harlem" and in many photos by famed photographer

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Michael Jackson: Icon

Michael Jackson’s sudden and tragic death has revealed the truly iconic status he had achieved in the world. While some of the news media has chosen to continually harp on what they have labeled as Michael’s eccentricities, especially what they have called his bizarre appearance and behavior over the last few years, his 40 years of unbroken creativity and musical genius have secured his enduring iconic status in the minds of an adoring global public.

No death in the last century, including 

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TONIGHT! Author Frederick Opie discusses his book Hog and Hominy: Soul Food from Africa to America

I am from Detroit and I don’t remember noting the ethnic background of anyone while growing up. In Detroit we seemed to organize ourselves by way of race not ethnicity, you were either black or white. The food had more distinction of ethnicity than the people responsible for making it. For the time we lived in Detroit, it seemed like it was the center of the world. My folks, really my mother, would travel all over the city to get her taste of food she craved. Years after the riots in 68, when our family followed white flight, just like everyone else, my mom would say “hop 

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John Hope Franklin

The New York Public Library, especially the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, joins millions of Americans in honoring the pioneering, purposeful, immensely productive life of Dr. John Hope Franklin (1915–2009). The preeminent scholar of the African American experience, he was a leading authority on Southern American history, a distinguished educator, and an uncompromising advocate for equality and justice in American society.

A New York Public Library Lion (2007), a co-chair of the Schomburg Center's first private fundraising 

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Art Deco Diversity

As we get into the twentieth century, events reveal themselves that show just how important a role blacks begin to play in popular culture and the arts. Josephine Baker and American jazz musicians wowed 1920s Paris, and Europeans enthusiastically swayed to the beat from across the Atlantic. From zoot suits to hip hop, we owe black musicians, entertainers, and artists a debt for their contributions to contemporary cool.

Fortunately, scholarship since the 1980s has been at work to rectify the omissions of the first major publications on Art Deco. Just as we’ve learned how 

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Julius Caesar Tingman

Sometimes there are actually reasons for wanting a television. I wish I could have caught this show last week. African American Lives is a PBS series in which African American celebrities are presented with stories from their own family history. Here's a clip of an interview with comedian Chris Rock during which he learns about his great-great grandfather Julius Caesar Tingman. 

I actually found Julius C. Tingman's Civil War pension record (see below) in a database we recently acquired called Footnote, which contains 

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Does the African pity the white man?

One day when a former Chief of the Music Division (now enjoying retirement) was browsing through an auction catalog, she came across a listing for a piece of early 19th century sheet music. Entitled “The African’s Pity on the White Man” and published in England, the item was being sold in excess of $1,000 (this was in the early 1990s). A quick hunt in one of our under-processed collections revealed that we owned a copy of this sheet music. We had it quickly cataloged for our 

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Remembering Cuesta Benberry.

(Quilt from NYPL Digital Gallery)

I learned in today’s New York Times that Cuesta Benberry, a renowned historian of the craft of quilting, has passed away. She worked to collect, interpret, and preserve quilting traditions of African American women over the course of many decades, and her scholarship resulted in books, 

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