African American Studies

No Wakanda for Us

Ruma Chopra— Maroons were tiny communities of escaped slaves who held an in-between status in many New World slave societies, somewhere between freedom and captivity. They avoided the brutality of slavery but confronted the abuses that came from being black in a white society. During the 1790s, a community of

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Adapting Atticus

Anders Walker— Now that the lawsuit between Harper Lee’s estate and Broadway producer Scott Rudin is settled, the question remains whether the stage version of Atticus Finch is going to remain faithful to the beloved lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird.  According to Lee’s estate, Finch was a “model of

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Abolitionists are American Democracy’s Unsung Heroes

Manisha Sinha— Most Americans greeted Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew’s decision to put Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist heroine of the Underground Railroad, on the front of the twenty-dollar bill and relegate the Indian hunting President Andrew Jackson to its back with approval. The ironies abound. Fugitive slaves like Tubman most feared

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The Children of the Amistad

Benjamin N. Lawrance— March 9 marks the 174th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision U.S. v Amistad, one of the most celebrated U.S. “freedom suits.” Since the case’s conclusion in 1841, the charismatic leadership of Cinqué (Sengbe Pieh) and the rhetorical prowess of former President John Quincy Adams and others

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Pop Quiz: Black History Month Edition

With the end of February marking the end of Black History Month, it’s time for a little pop quiz. Carla L. Peterson, author of Black Gotham, has put together a quiz on black history in New York. Let’see what we’ve all learned this month! [bs_collapse id=”collapse_968c-3e48″][bs_citem title=”1. Describe New York’s antebellum

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10 Books for Black History Month

February is Black History Month! It’s a time, as President Ford put it, to “honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Here are ten books to check out this month, each of which contributes to a fuller articulation of African American

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A Different Look at Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream

Michael Wayne— On the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s birthday, media outlets across the country will be running excerpts from his famous “I Have a Dream” speech delivered at the March on Washington. Let’s look at a somewhat different version of his dream, this one presented at the annual convention

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King’s Dream: Civil Rights and the History of Nonviolent Protest

On this day in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. gave what is widely hailed as the best political speech of the twentieth century. King famously departed from his prepared text to expound upon his dream, a vision of a nation living in racial harmony. Folk history has it that Mahalia

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Video: Ship of Death, A Voyage that Changed the Atlantic World

In 1792, a ship set sail from England with the best of intentions. Its tragic journey would change the course of history forever. Historian Billy Smith uncovered a remarkable story of tragedy unleashed from misguided humanitarianism in his book Ship of Death: A Voyage that Changed the Atlantic World. The Hankey was engaged

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Imagining Black America

To begin with, some basic biology. Human beings share fully 99.5 percent of our DNA. In other words, the individual difference between us – in height and weight, in skin color, in hair texture – are shaped by a mere 0.5 percent of our genetic material. This is how Michael

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