African American history

By DAN GOLDBERG 05/25/2020 Commander Daniel W. Armstrong, a tall, handsome, aristocratic-looking man with an upright gait and an immaculate uniform, looked the 16 black men over. He was the white officer in charge of the black camp, a man whose willingness to work with African American enlistees earned praise from the higher-ups in Washington. “Do you…

Read More The Golden Thirteen: The Forgotten Story of How 13 Black Men Broke the Navy’s Toughest Color Barrier

By Precious Fondren For most of her life, Debra Willett had a vague idea about who her grandfather was. She knew he had fought in France in World War I at some point. But she didn’t grasp the importance of what her grandfather, who died in 1956, had accomplished until she began doing some genealogy research…

Read More Honoring the Forgotten Harlem Hellfighters: An Exceptional Unit of Black Soldiers

By Clay Risen Published Aug. 22, 2021 Updated Sept. 1, 2021 Lucille Times, whose encounter with a bus driver in Montgomery, Ala., in June 1955 led her to begin a one-woman boycott of the city’s public transportation, an act of defiance that inspired a mass boycott six months later after another Black woman, Rosa Parks, was charged with defying…

Read More Lucille Times, Who Inspired the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Dies at 100

On October 16, 1833, Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett was born near Litchfield, Connecticut to free black parents who held prominent roles in Connecticut’s free black community. Bassett’s father was a businessman who had served as one of Connecticut’s Black Governors — an honorary leadership role in the state’s black community — and his grandfather was…

Read More The United States’ First African-American Diplomat

Fire Shut Up in My Bones is in the running for best American opera of the 21st century. By James Jorden • 09/28/21 12:13pm After over a year and a half of silence, the Metropolitan Opera came roaring back last night with a captivating new opera to open its 2021-2022 season. Terence Blanchard’s tuneful Fire Shut Up in My…

Read More Premiere of ‘Fire Shut Up in My Bones’ Sets the Reopened Met Ablaze

Ebony magazine rolled out a quiz in April 1952 that asked, “WHICH ONE IS NEGRO? WHICH IS WHITE?” How many can you guess correctly? (Answers at the end of the blog.) From Essence.com: Passing follows the story of two Black women, former childhood friends Irene Redfield (Thompson) and Clare Kendry (Negga), both of whom are able to convincingly…

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September 9, 2021 by Neely Tucker (Library of Congress) Descendants of Venture Smith gather at his gravesite in East Haddam, Connecticut, during the town’s 2019 Venture Smith Day. Photo courtesy of Venture Smith Day Celebration Committee. Delighted to write this post with Mark Dimunation, chief of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division. “I was born at Dukandarra,…

Read More Venture Smith: The First Slave Narrative

September 9, 2021 by Neely Tucker (Library of Congress) Descendants of Venture Smith gather at his gravesite in East Haddam, Connecticut, during the town’s 2019 Venture Smith Day. Photo courtesy of Venture Smith Day Celebration Committee. Delighted to write this post with Mark Dimunation, chief of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division. “I was born at Dukandarra,…

Read More Venture Smith: The First Slave Narrative