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Africa and the African Diaspora

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The history and culture of Africans and African descendants around the world.

Célébrons le mois de l'histoire des noirs

En commémoration du mois de l’histoire des noirs on vous propose ces titres dont vous trouvez dans le catalogue de NYPL. Réservez-les et cherchez-les à votre bibliothèque de quartier la plus proche.Read More ›

Dr. Cheryl LaRoche Presents "Free Black Communities and the Underground Railroad: The Geography of Resistance" at Columbus Library

“When you think about the Underground Railroad, it is a land based operation, moving from one section of the country (where slavery exists) to another where it doesn’t take place—You must negotiate the land to get your freedom. We haven’t focused in on the land itself in the exploration of the Underground Railroad. When you start to read the land you come up with some different conclusions." Hear more from the author on Tuesday, February 11 at 4 p.m. Read More ›

12 Years a Slave. What About 15 Years in a Cave?

We’ll know in one month if Steve McQueen’s film gets an Oscar. But one thing is sure: the heretofore largely unfamiliar Solomon Northup has become a household name.Read More ›

My Mandela Moments

I learned of Nelson Mandela’s passing while waiting for my delayed flight at Atlanta Airport. I thought how much his painful and extraordinary life had exposed the terrible danger that faced those who fought for the rights, the dignity and the freedom of people of African origin or descent. That despairing reality was made all the more vivid because I was coming back to New York after several days spent with Kathleen Cleaver, immersed in documents and photographs from the Black 

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The Americas' First Muslims

This week, 1.2 billion Muslims will celebrate Eid-al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, or Tabaski as it is known in West Africa. Very few among them will have a thought for the hundreds of thousands of enslaved West Africans who, during almost four centuries, practiced Islam in the Americas. Although they left significant marks of their faith, cultures, and traditions, the Africans who first brought Islam to these shores have been mostly forgotten.Read More ›

Música Soul: The Soundtrack of the Black Power Movement in Brazil

"If we had said 'Negro power' nobody would get scared. Everybody would support it. If we said power for colored people, everybody would be for that, but it is the word 'black' that bothers people in this country, and that's their problem, not mine." —Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) at UC Berkeley, 1966

Stokely Carmichael by Lynn B. PadweBlack Rio Scene by Almir VeigaJames Brown released "I'm Black and I'm Proud" during the height of the Black Power Movement in the United States in 1968. Brown's in-your-face approach to racial pride resonated 

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Asia's Africans

May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. What better time to discover or learn more about Afro-Asians? As our groundbreaking exhibition Africans in India shows, some became navy commanders, army generals, and founders of dynasties. In Ahmedabad, in the Indian state of Gujarat, they left an impressive architectural legacy. Today, 

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Africans in India: From Slaves to Generals and Rulers

Generals, commanders, admirals, prime ministers, and rulers, East Africans greatly distinguished themselves in India. They wrote a story unparalleled in the rest of the world — that of enslaved Africans attaining the pinnacle of military and political authority not only in a foreign country but also on another continent. Come discover their extraordinary story in a groundbreaking exhibition at the Schomburg Center — on view from February 1 to July 6 — and on March 21, join Dr. Faeeza Jasdanwalla, a descendant of the African dynasty of Janjira for a conversation on this 

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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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Reclaiming My West Indian Roots, with Poetry

As a young girl growing up in Jamaica — and later in Brooklyn, NY — I often heard the poetry of Louise Bennett (Jamaicans affectionately call her "Miss Lou") permeate the air. One of my earliest recollections of Miss Lou’s lyricism was hearing the term mout amassi (big mouth). The term comes from the title of one of her most popular poems about a young lady, Liza, who loves to gossip and chat.

To be called a "mout amassi" 

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Survivors: Sand Island

July 31, 1761: The French ship l'Utile, illegally transporting 160 Africans from Madagascar to Ile de France (Mauritius), approaches Sand Island. Because the captain worries about a potential revolt, he orders the hatches to be nailed shut. In the night, the ship runs into a reef and capsizes. 

What follows is, arguably, the most extraordinary story of survival ever documented.

More than 70 Africans trapped in the hold died that night, while 123 French crew and passengers (18 had died) escaped. Only 

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Islam in Europe: A Resource Guide at NYPL

According to the BBC News, "Islam is widely considered Europe's fastest growing religion, with immigration and above average birth rates leading to a rapid increase in the Muslim population." There are currently over 15 million Muslims (Sunni and Shiite) living in Europe and Islam is currently the second largest religion in the world after Christianity.

This blog post will focus on NYPL’s rich collection on the history of Islam in Europe: past and present; the historical, political, cultural, and 

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Bollywood and Africa: A Love Story

Few people in the West have heard international superstar Akon's new hit. But tens of millions throughout the rest of the world have been dancing to Chammak Challo for weeks. Why? Because the catchy tune is the musical centerpiece of the latest Bollywood sci-fi blockbuster Ra. One, whose (super) hero is no other than Shahrukh Khan, the most popular actor in the (rest of) the world. That Akon, a Senegalese,

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Sannu Niger!

ferdinandreus on flickrThe capture last week of Saif al-Islam Qaddafi who, disguised as a Tuareg, was trying to flee to Niger — where one of his brothers and some high-ranking officials have found refuge — has turned a spotlight on a country few people have heard of.

Niger? You mean

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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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Remembering Ken Saro-Wiwa

“The writer cannot be a mere storyteller; he cannot be a mere teacher; he cannot merely X-ray society’s weaknesses, its ills, its perils. He or she must be actively involved shaping its present and its future.”

Nigerian environmentalist, author, and television producer Ken Saro-Wiwa lived and died by the words above. Born on October 10, 1941, Kenule “Ken” Beeson Saro Wiwa was an Ogoni (an ethnic minority in Nigeria). Ogoniland, located in the Niger Delta, is rich in oil that has been looted by 

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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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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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