african american history

african american history

Celebrating Pride and African American Music Appreciation Month

Celebrating Pride and African American Music Appreciation Month

June celebrations are myriad and interesting, with lots of opportunities for discovery and learning.  This month, we celebrate both African American Music Appreciation Month and LGBTQ Pride Month.  African American LGBTQ musicians have contributed some of the most recognizable songs in American history, as well as serving as examples of successful artists who in many cases lived their truths openly.  Here, we profile a handful of artists spanning over 100 years of recorded music. Gertrude “Ma” Rainey Ma Rainey was born in 1886 with the full name of Gertrude Melissa Nix Pridgett, likely in Columbus, Georgia.  Her potent version of the blues was confrontational and influential, and she worked with some of the most famous artists of her (and any … Continued
Writers, musicians, scientists: accomplishments of Black women throughout history

Writers, musicians, scientists: accomplishments of Black women throughout history

In the arts, sciences, humanities and popular culture, Black women have helped to shape our society in ways large and small. You can research them in databases like African-American History Online, Black Women Writers, or Black Thought and Culture.  In this blog, we highlight three of these extraordinary women and their tremendous contributions to American society, history and culture. Sister Rosetta Tharpe The guitar stings its notes one after the next, amplified by gigantic speakers.  Up front, in a sleeveless cotton dress, a woman stands in front of a large silver microphone, her hair pulled up away from her face.  She is Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and according to a number of music historians, she invented or promoted many of the … Continued
African Americans in Film

African Americans in Film

African American History Month offers a wonderful opportunity to reflect on cultural and artistic achievements of African Americans. They have been making films as long as the medium has existed but faced unique challenges. African American film grew out of a caricatured, othered presentation of black culture to mainstream audiences, and had to reclaim its own narrative.  But the pernicious influence of cultural stereotypes was not the only challenge. African American cinema blossomed from decades of black performers limited to working for white directors, producers, and censors; to films that now enjoy African American talent in the writing, direction, editing, and production (and independent of white capital), which allows for richer self-expression.  But earlier films should not be ignored; African … Continued
African American History – Finding free, quality resources online

African American History – Finding free, quality resources online

What are Open Access Resources (OARs)? These are research materials that have been made freely available to the public, allowing users online access to information that otherwise may not be available. Here we feature a curated list of Open Access Resources about African American History. The Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History (AARL) was the first public library in the Southeast U.S. to offer specialized reference and archival collections dedicated to the study and research of African American culture and the history of those who are of African descent. Every Thursday, the AARL hosts a series of instructional workshops supporting the ongoing “development of foundational information and literacy and research skills, while promoting library resources and … Continued
The American myth of Stagolee

The American myth of Stagolee

On the evening of December 25, 1895, “Stag” Lee Shelton  was doing the 19th century version of a bar crawl when he entered the Bill Curtis Saloon in St. Louis.  He took a seat next to William Lyons, and they talked about a number of different things.  But when the subject switched to politics, Lyons and Shelton, who whipped up support for opposing parties, began hitting each other’s hats as a form of retaliation. Shelton ultimately broke the crown of Lyons’ derby hat.  Lyons asked for five bits (about $1.25) to replace it.  When Shelton refused, Lyons took Shelton’s Stetson hat.  Shelton promptly shot Lyons, took his hat back and walked out of the bar.  Lyons died of his injuries only hours later.  … Continued