Tag Archives: African American History

For Turn-of-the-Century African-Americans, the Camera Was a Tool for Empowerment

Regal would be the best way to describe the photograph of Mary Church Terrell. Delicately swathed in lace, satin and crystals, the charismatic civil rights activist is seen in profile. The front of her tasteful Gibson pompadour is dappled with light and her face is illuminated as if a single ray of sun had parted the clouds in the sky. It’s a highly flattering image of the D.C. activist and suffragist, and Terrell thought so herself. Continue reading For Turn-of-the-Century African-Americans, the Camera Was a Tool for Empowerment

How Business Executive Madam C. J. Walker Became a Powerful Influencer of the Early 20th Century

For Madam C.J. Walker, a new life began when she decided to find a cure for her own hair loss. Her ailment would become the impetus for a large, multi-faceted, international company that sold hair care products—including an inventive vegetable shampoo that she developed—and that offered training to women both as hair stylists and as sales representatives. Continue reading How Business Executive Madam C. J. Walker Became a Powerful Influencer of the Early 20th Century

The Women of the Black Panther Party and Their Powerful Influence

It’s a striking photograph: six young black women with a spectrum of complexions, faces paused in mid-exclamation, fists raised in simultaneous solidarity at a Black Panther rally. Even their afros are emphatic and resolute as they stand in tandem in Oakland’s DeFremery Park, then and now a popular gathering place for the community’s African-Americans. There, a grove of trees honors Bobby Hutton who, at just 16, had been the Panthers’ first enlisted member and at 17, died after police shot him—purportedly, as he tried to surrender. Continue reading The Women of the Black Panther Party and Their Powerful Influence

The First African-American to Hold a Patent Invented ‘Dry Scouring’

The next time you pick up your clothes at the dry cleaner, send a thank you to the memory of Thomas Jennings. Jennings invented a process called ‘dry scouring,’ a forerunner of modern dry cleaning. He patented the process in 1821, making him likely the first black person in America to receive a patent. Continue reading The First African-American to Hold a Patent Invented ‘Dry Scouring’

In Search of George Washington Carver’s True Legacy

If the name George Washington Carver conjures up any spark of recognition, it’s probably associated with peanuts. That isn’t an unfair connection—he did earn the nickname “the peanut man” for his work with the legume—but it’s one that doesn’t give credit to the rest of Carver’s pioneering, fascinating work. Continue reading In Search of George Washington Carver’s True Legacy

Smithsonian Curator Weighs in on Legacy of Frank Robinson, Barrier-Breaking Baseball Great

During his 21 seasons as an outfielder, first with the Cincinnati Reds and later with the Baltimore Orioles among other teams, Major League Baseball hall of famer Frank Robinson accumulated some of the best stats in baseball history. He hit 586 career home runs, was named an All-Star 14 times and remains the only player to earn the Most Valuable Player award in both leagues, receiving the title in 1961 for his work with the Reds and in 1966 while playing for the Orioles, respectively.

Continue reading Smithsonian Curator Weighs in on Legacy of Frank Robinson, Barrier-Breaking Baseball Great

Preserving Negro League History Has Never Been Easier, or Harder, Depending on Who You Ask

When the World Series opens up at Fenway Park tonight, all eyes will be on Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts. Only 26, the three time All-Star is the odds-on favorite to win the 2018 American League MVP. Betts has advanced statistics to thank—primarily WAR (Wins Above Replacement Players), in which he notched a 10.1. Going back 117 seasons, there have only been 50 10+ WAR seasons, putting Betts in heady Boston company. In its “Similar Batters Through 25” category, Baseball-Reference.com lists Betts alongside fellow Red Sox outfielders Jim Rice and Carl Yastrzemski. Both men are in the Hall-of-Fame. Continue reading Preserving Negro League History Has Never Been Easier, or Harder, Depending on Who You Ask