The African Union Society of Rhode Island, 1780-1824

The first separate black church in Newport was the Union Colored Church and Society The society is considered one of the first formal organizations founded by free blacks in the United States. By Michael J. Barga Board Member Catholic Social Workers’ National Association Background Mutual aid societies were created by free blacks in the early[…]

How World War I Sparked the Artistic Movement that Transformed Black America

Aaron Douglas. “Aspects of Negro Life: From Slavery to Reconstruction.” Oil on canvas, 1934. The New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Art and Artifacts Division. Many associate post-World War I culture with Hemingway and Fitzgerald’s Lost Generation. But for black artists, writers and thinkers, the war changed the way they saw their past and their future. By Dr. Elizabeth J. West / 05.31.2017[…]

African Rhythms, Ideas of Sin and the Hammond Organ: A Brief History of Gospel Music’s Evolution

A choir sings traditional gospel music. Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller For the enslaved Africans, music – rhythm in particular – became a tool of communication about their conditions. Later, it laid the foundation for spirituals and gospel songs. By Dr. Robert Stephens / 02.28.2018 Professor of World Music University of Connecticut The enslaved Africans who first arrived in the British colony of Virginia in 1619 after being forcefully removed from their natural[…]

Josephine Baker: Iconic Entertainer, Resistance Spy, and American Hero

Josephine Baker | AP By Chauncey K. Robinson / 03.01.2018 It seems only fitting with Black History Month closing out, and Women’s History Month beginning, to highlight a Black woman who exemplified strength and resilience in the face of discrimination and oppression. Famed entertainer Josephine Baker was not only a pioneer in breaking color barriers[…]

Why Martin Luther King’s Trip to Tyneside Still Matters 50 Years On

Martin Luther King in Newcastle, 1967. Newcastle University Special Collections By Dr. Brian Ward / 10.20.2017 Professor in American Studies Northumbria University, Newcastle While controversy about the removal of Confederate memorials in the US rumbles on, in the north-east of England, plans to honour one of the US South’s most famous sons are coming to fruition. Freedom City[…]

What Kwanzaa Means for Black Americans

Kwanzaa celebrations. Black Hour, CC BY-NC By Dr. Frank Dobson / 12.20.2017 Associate Dean of Students Vanderbilt University On Dec. 26, millions throughout the world’s African community will start weeklong celebrations of Kwanzaa. There will be daily ceremonies with food, decorations and other cultural objects, such as the kinara, which holds seven candles. At many Kwanzaa[…]

When African-American ‘Gospel Sermons’ Came on the Phonograph

Oak Grove Acapella Singers, a Gospel group of Chester County, Tennessee, being recorded while singing in the office of the preacher at the Oak Grove Church of Christ. Tennessee State Library and Archives By Dr. Jerry Zolten / 06.29.2017 Associate Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences Pennsylvania State University The first truly African-American musical form, the[…]