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Michigan State University

African American Studies Research Guide: 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro

Root

TheRoot.com.   Provides an unflinching examination of political and cultural news through insightful debate and commentary from both established and emerging black thought-leaders. The Root features unvarnished analysis of important issues in the black community and engages anyone looking for diverse viewpoints that are provocative, savvy and smart.  Also provides a Facebook page.  100 Amazing Facts About the Negro is a series by Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. He is also the editor-in-chief of The Root.

100 Amazing Facts About the Negro

100 amazing facts about the Negro : with complete proof: a short cut to the world history of the Negro / by J.A. Rogers ; as well as additional information by the author and a biographical sketch by Helga M. Rogers.  St. Petersburg, FL : H.M. Rogers, c1995.  71pp.  MSU Library Special Collections Radicalism Collection CB235 .R64 1995

Henry Louis Gates Jr. describes Joel Augustus Rogers -- the man who inspired his new weekly black history series on The Root.

African American Firsts

Black Quotidian

Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African American Newspapers.  Curated by Matt Delmont, Arizona State University.

Subject Guide

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100 Amazing Facts About the Negro

How Many Slaves Landed in the US? : You might think you know, but you're probably wrong. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 1. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, October 15, 2012.

Who Was the First African American? : We know his name, and that he arrived well before the Mayflower. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 2. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, October 21, 2012.

Who Was the First Black Saint? : We know his name, and why a Swiss resort town is named after him. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 3. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, October 29, 2012.

Who Was North America's 1st Black President? : He's sometimes called the "Abraham Lincoln" of his nation. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 4. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, November 5, 2012.

Who Was Africa's 1st Ambassador to Europe? : The answer lies a lot further back in time than you think. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 5. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, November 12, 2012.

Who Was the First Black to Explore the West? : He traveled the North American Southwest before Lewis and Clark. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 6. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, November 19, 2012.

Which Slave Wrote His Way Out of Slavery? : This African penned a letter powerful enough to lead to freedom. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 7. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, November 26, 2012.

North America's 1st Black Town? : It was founded during slavery, and it wasn't in the U.S. South. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 8. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, December 3, 2012.

George Washington's Runaway Slave, Harry : His journey would take him a world away from Mount Vernon. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 9. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, December 10, 2012.

george-washington-billy-lee-trumbell

Who Led the First Back-to-Africa Effort? : Paul Cuffee was also the first free black White House guest. Amazing Facts About the Negro No. 10. Article by Henry Louis Gates Jr. appearing in the Root, December 17, 2012.

The 1st Black Man to See the Baby Jesus : What do we really know about Balthasar's origins?  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 11.   Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, December 24, 2012.

What Was America's First Black Town? : As the nation turns its attention to the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, it's worth noting that decades before the United States was even formed, African Americans lived free in a town of their own -- at least for a while....Sometime between March and November of 1738, Spanish settlers in Florida formed a town named Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, two miles to the north of St. Augustine. Initially, it consisted of 38 men, all fugitive slaves, "most of them married," who had fled to Florida for sanctuary and freedom from enslavement in the Carolinas and Georgia. It came to be known as Fort Mose. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 12. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, December 31, 2012.

Fort Mose map: The Jefferys map of 1762 showed what Fort Mose (labeled “Negroe Fort”) looked like in 1740. (www.flmnh.ufl.edu)

The Truth Behind '40 Acres and a Mule' : Find out who came up with the idea, and how it fell through. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 13. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, January 7, 2013.

Did Dogs Really Eat Slaves, Like in 'Django'?  : Plus, whether slaves rode horses or had Mandingo death matches. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 14.    Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, January 14, 2013.

Where Was the 1st Underground Railroad? : Here's a hint -- don't follow the North Star to find it. Amazing Facts About the Negro No. 15. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, January 21, 2013.

Where Was the Second Middle Passage? : A second forced migration of slaves wasn't transatlantic. .  Amazing Facts About the Negro No. 16.  Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, January 28, 2013

Why Was Cotton 'King'? : The lucrative crop didn't reign just in the slaveholding South.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 17. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, February 4, 2013.

Exactly How 'Black' Is Black America? : Find out the percentage of African ancestry in black Americans.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 18. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, February 11, 2013.

Who Really Invented the 'Talented Tenth'? : Why you'd be wrong if you said W.E.B. Du Bois.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 19. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, February 18, 2013.

Who Was the Black Swallow of Death? : Before the Tuskegee Airmen, there was Eugene Jacques Bullard.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 20. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, February 25, 2013.

Black and white photograph of Eugene Bullard

Did Black People Own Slaves? : Yes -- but why they did and how many they owned will surprise you. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 21. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, March 4, 2013.

New on The Root: Bobo, Lomax, Others : Politics, education and society are just a few of the hot topics our new regulars touch upon.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 22.  Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, March 11, 2013.

Why Richard Wright Hated Zora Neale Hurston? : A genre lost its inhibitions as Janie's orgasm riled critics.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 23. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, March 18, 2013.

Who Really Ran the Underground Railroad? : Find out which popular beliefs are myths (slave quilts, anyone?).  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 24. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, March 25, 2013.

Did Peter the Great Have a Black Son? : How Russian black history came to include two famous relations.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 25. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, April 1, 2013.

Was Jackie Robinson Court-Martialed? : His struggle for equality began even before he integrated baseball. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 26. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, April 8, 2013.

Was the Father of Russian Lit a Brother? : Find out if Alexander Pushkin's African roots held meaning for him.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 27. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, April 15, 2013.

Did African-American Slaves Rebel? : Haitians weren't the only ones unwilling to accept their fates. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 28. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, April 22, 2013.

Were There Slaves Like Stephen in "Django"? : Whether so-called house slaves betrayed others in bondage.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 29. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, April 29, 2013.

Which Slave Mailed Himself to Freedom?  Really! : Find out how a 200-pound man survived the trip in a coffin-like box.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 30. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, May 6, 2013.

Who Was the 1st Black Duke : Meet the scion of a legendary Italian dynasty. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 31. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, May 13, 2013.

Which Slave Sailed Himself to Freedom : Life took him from a daring sea escape to a stint in Congress. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 32. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, May 20, 2013.

What Was Black America’s Double War? : A paper's call for blacks to support the WWII effort had a twist.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 33. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, May 24, 2013.

Should Blacks Collect Racist Memorabilia?  A case for saving imagery that worked in tandem with Jim Crow laws. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 34. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, June 3, 2013.

"Plessy v. Ferguson" ;: Who Was Plessy? Learn about the man whose case led to decades of legal segregation. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 35. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, June 10, 2013.

What Is Juneteenth?  Learn about the most popular annual celebration of black emancipation. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 36. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, June 17, 2013.

Who Was the First Black Millionairess?  Even if you know the answer, you don't know the whole story. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 37. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, June 24, 2013.

Madam C.J. Walker (A'Lelia Bundles/Madam Walker Family Collection)

Did Black Men Fight at Gettysburg? It depends on how you define the pivotal Civil War battle. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 38.  Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, July 1, 2013.

Free Blacks Lived in the North, Right?  During slavery, some blacks were free. But where did they live? Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 39.  Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, July 8, 2013.

Why Did Free Blacks Stay in the Old South?  Find out what made them stay put during slavery.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 40.  Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, July 15, 2013.

Who Was the Sultan of Jazz?  This black man ruled nightlife in Moscow and Constantinople.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 41.  Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, July 22, 2013.

What Was the Colfax Massacre?  A racially driven rampage changes history.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 42.  Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, July 29, 2013.

Who Killed Black Wall Street?   An incident in an elevator sparks deadly and enduring consequences.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 43. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, August 5, 2013.

Why Don't Kids Know More About the Civil Rights Movement? A report shows too few U.S. high schoolers know the answer.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 44. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, August 12, 2013.

Who Designed the March on Washington?  This gay man was kept in the closet of the civil rights movement.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 45. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, August 19, 2013.

Did MLK Improvise in the 'Dream' Speech? What led to it and how some famous lines nearly weren't spoken.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 46. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, August 26, 2013.

When Jack Johnson Met the Black Russian  New book recalls the historic encounter between the boxing champ and savvy entrepreneur Frederick Bruce Thomas.  Honarary mention. Article by Vladimir Alexandrov. appearing in the Root, September 5, 2013.

Which African Prince Was Sold Into Slavery? His plight moved a president to act, and his fate defied the odds. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 47. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, September 9, 2013.

Who Was Napoleon's 'Black Devil'? His life, exploits and legacy had a profound effect on literature. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 48. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, September 16, 2013.

Discovery of 1st Black Female Novelist : The discovery of the author's real identity will forever change the history of African-American literature.  Honorary mention.  Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, September 19, 2013.

Who Was the 1st Black Poet? : The first to publish in a Western tongue isn't who you might think.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 49. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, September 23, 2013.

The First White Man in Chicago Was a Negro? : How Jean Baptiste Point du Sable became legend, and much more.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 50. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, September 27, 2013.

Were There 'Mulatto' Slave Traders? : A father-son story illustrates dynamics of the trade in humans.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 51. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, October 7, 2013.

12 Years a Slave: Trek From Slave to Screen : Long before Solomon Northup's ordeal hit screens, he wrote about it.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 52. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, October 14, 2013.

Cory Booker and the 1st Black Senators : Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 53. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, October 28, 2013.

Which Black Governor Was Almost a Senator? : His failed Senate bid prevented a situation that Cory Booker's now in. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 54. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, November 4, 2013.

How Black Was JFK's Camelot? : The answer reveals why Kennedy is so highly regarded by blacks. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 55 Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, November 18, 2013.

The Era of the Black Woman : When did the golden age of black female achievement begin? Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 56. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, November 25, 2013.

An African Princess Who Stood Unafraid Among Nazis : Her autobiography is a one-of-a-kind perspective of an educated, empowered, world-traveling daughter of a royal family, which no one wanted to publish until now.   Honorary mention : Article by  Jenée Desmond-Harris, November 23, 2013.

Was a Black Man on the Titanic? : The making of a legend named Shine, after the demise of a real person.  Who were the black passengers on the doomed Titanic voyage?  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 58. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, December 2, 2013.

Was the Lone Ranger Black? : Which former slave became a deputy U.S. marshal and a renowned symbol of law and order in the Wild West? The character's story is strikingly similar to that of 19th-century lawman Bass Reeves. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 59.  Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, December 9, 2013.

Was John Brown's 1st Victim Black? : Within a famous attempt to start a slave revolt was a terrible irony.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 60. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, December 16, 2013.

Did a Black Man Discover the Fountain of Youth? : Learn about the legend that predates Ponce de León’s legendary search.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 61. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, December 23, 2013.

Who Legalized Arming Black Men to Kill Confederates? :The answer reveals a complex relationship between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 62. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, December 30, 2013.

Which Black Man Told Jefferson He Was Racist? : Many schools bear his name, but his legacy is poorly understood.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 63. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, January 13, 2014.

Nelson Mandela and the 1st Martin Luther King Holiday : From the very beginning, the King holiday reminded us how the struggle for freedom continued. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 64. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, January 20, 2014.

Did Lincoln Really Free the Slaves? : Several versions of the bill that abolished slavery were written before he signed the 13th Amendment as we know it today. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 65. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, January 27, 2014.

Shouldn't Every Day Be Black History Month? : Its founder thought so, ironically. Here's what happened instead. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 66. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, February 3, 2014.

Slavery, by the Numbers : Twenty-eight statistics every American should know this Black History Month.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 67. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, February 10, 2014.

Was Andromeda Black? : Evidence that a figure in Greek mythology received a European makeover. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 68. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, February 17, 2014.

How Many Slave Narratives Were There? : Sizing up the genre from which an Oscar favorite originated.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 69. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, February 24, 2014.

What Was the 1st Black American Newspaper? : Find out when it launched, and what pressing concern led to its demise.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 70. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, March 10, 2014.

How Many White People Are Passing? : A report reveals the proportion of Americans with “hidden African ancestry.”  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 71. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, March 17, 2014.

Who Was the 1st Black Ventriloquist? : Meet the original magical character named Potter. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 72. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, March 24, 2014.

Who Was the 1st Black Othello? : A new play tells the story of a pioneer of Shakespearean drama. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 73. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, March 31, 2014.

Who Is Black America's Patron Saint? : Meet the black Sicilian whose image was used to convert slaves to Catholicism.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 74. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, April 7, 2014.

The 'Black' Witch of Salem : Forget what you think you know about the person who started it all.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 75. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, April 14, 2014.

High Cheekbones and Straight Black Hair? : Why most black people aren’t “part Indian,” despite family lore.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 76. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, April 21, 2014.

A Raisin Still in the Sun : Beyond its star-studded Broadway revival, Lorraine Hansberry’s play remains relevant.    Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 77. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, April 28, 2014.

Who Was the Real Dido Elizabeth Belle? : What historical records say about the mixed-race heroine of a new film.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 78. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, May 5, 2014.

Who Was Black America's 1st Investigative Journalist? : Meet the man who exposed a colonial atrocity of epic proportions.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 79. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, May 12, 2014.

When Affirmative Action Was White : Meet America's first black collegians, who faced a system that explicitly favored the white elite.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 80. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, May 19, 2014.

The Black Roots of Memorial Day : How three runaway slaves created the momentum toward emancipation.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 81. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, May 26, 2014.

Was History's Richest Person Black? : Meet Mansa Musa, the Malian king whose gold-plated legend beats all others.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 82. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, June 2, 2014.

Was the Author of The Three Musketeers a Black Man? : You may already know the answer, but here's why it matters. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 83. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, June 9, 2014.

Did a Zulu King Massacre the British Army? : Recounting the time a South African chief was outgunned, but not outfoxed.   Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 84.   Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, June 16, 2014.

What Was Freedom Summer? : A new documentary reminds us of an old fight, with contemporary relevance.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 85. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, June 23, 2014.

Who Was the Unsung Hero of the 1964 Civil Rights Act? : Debating whether MLK or LBJ deserves more credit slights people like Clarence Mitchell Jr.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 86. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, June 30, 2014.

African Slaves Were the 1st to Celebrate Ramadan in America : As Islam becomes the second-most-practiced faith in the U.S., it is important to remember that Ramadan was first celebrated in this country by slaves who brought their faith traditions from West Africa. Article by Khaled A. Beydoun, July 3, 2014.

True or False: There Are No Black People in Argentina : Many Argentinians would say it's true. Yet history tells a different tale. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 87. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, July 13, 2014.

Did Black Slaves Revolt in Iraq? : The Revolt of the Zanj was a very different kind of operation for freedom in Iraq.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 88. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, July 21, 2014.

Were There Black Pirates? : Meet the buccaneers whom Hollywood never would have cast. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 89. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, July 28, 2014.

Who Was the 1st Black Rhodes Scholar? Also the dean of the Harlem Renaissance; he's only now being laid to rest. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 90. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, September 8, 2014.

In Whose Garden Did the Harlem Renaissance Grow? : How segregation, soil and poetic talent nurtured a movement.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 91. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, September 15, 2014.

Did Lincoln Want to Ship Black People to Africa? : The Great Emancipator's original solution for America’s race problem. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 92. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, September 22, 2014.

Who Were the 1st Black Federal Court Judges? : The most famous, Justice Thurgood Marshall, came out of an impressive field of talent.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 93. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, September 29, 2014.

Which Black Man Was Responsible for Burying Bodies at Gettysburg?? : Learn about his heroism before and after the Civil War battle, as well as a famous descendant.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 94. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, October 6, 2014.

Why Did Malcolm X Go to Oxford? : An invitation to defend extremism set the international stage for a legendary battle.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 95. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, October 13, 2014.

Did a Black Man Invent Crest Toothpaste? : ;Plus: What a P&G chemist and an Underground Railroad hero have in common.  Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 96. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, October 20, 2014.

Which Black Actor Was Paid to Be White? : He was a true cinematic chameleon back when Hollywood rarely cast across the color line. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 97. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, October 27, 2014.

Which Boxing Champ Was "Unforgivably Black"? : His boxing supremacy caused riots, and his love life scandalized a nation. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 98. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, November 3, 2014.

Who Were the Great Black Historians? : Meet the people to whom all black—and American—history buffs owe a great debt. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 99. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, November 10, 2014.

Who Was Joel A. Rogers? : In our series closer, we come back to the greatest popularizer of black-history facts. Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 100. Article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appearing in the Root, November 17, 2014.

Other Black History Features, January-February 2015

Dorothy Dandridge: A 1st for the Academy Awards. By: Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Julie Wolf, The Root, February 23, 2015. She was the first African American, male or female, to be Oscar-nominated for a leading role, but sadly, her career and life had a tragic ending.

50 Years After His Assassination, Malcolm X's Message Still Calls Us to Seek Justice. By: Peniel E. Joseph, The Root, February 9, 2015. A half-century later, Malcolm remains one of the most important intellectuals, organizers and revolutionaries that black America has ever produced.

Marie Laveaux: The Vodou Priestess Who Kept New Orleans Under Her Spell. By: Steven J. Niven, The Root, February 17, 2015. Once considered one of the most powerful women in New Orleans, Laveaux wielded influence over politicians and high society.

Cigar-Smoking, Gun-Toting Mary Fields Carried Montana's Mail. By: Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Julie Wolf, The Root, February 16, 2015. They Did It First: She was a legend in Montana, a former slave and nursemaid, who was tough enough to do so-called men’s work.

That Time Carter G. Woodson Hired Langston Hughes for His 1st Real Job. By: Todd Steven Burroughs, The Root, February 12, 2015. A little-known connection between two leading figures in African-American history ends with a discovery by Langston Hughes that he’s not cut out for a 9-to-5 life.

Blues Singer Gladys Bentley Broke Ground With Marriage to a Woman in 1931. By: Steven J. Niven, The Root, February 11, 2015 Tormented as a child, Bentley found a home with gay and lesbian artists of the Harlem Renaissance but struggled her whole life with her identity and “heart-twisting existence.”

Yes, A Different World Is a Moment in Black History. By: Danielle C. Belton, The Root, February 11, 2015. My Black History: History is alive, and that means the events of yesterday and today are part of the black-history spectrum. In this series, our writers tell us what historical events they have experienced in their lifetimes.

Carol Taylor's 1st Flight Made History for African Americans. By: Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Julie Wolf, The Root, February 9, 2015.. They Did It First: Carol Taylor was a nurse, consumer activist and civil rights crusader but is best-known for breaking the color barrier in the sky.

A Black Whaling Captain Escaped Prejudice at Sea. By: Steven J. Niven, The Root, February 5, 2015. The whaling industry was popular with African Americans in the late 19th century, and William T. Shorey was a prominent ship captain who rose quickly through the ranks.

John Hope Franklin: A Life of Firsts and Flowers. By: Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Julie Wolf, The Root, February 2, 2015. They Did It First: The history of African Americans in this country is a history of “firsts,” so The Root is celebrating the men and women who blazed a trail and forged a legacy of being the first in their field.

Yes, There Were Black Confederates. Here's Why. By: John Stauffer, The Root, January 20, 2015. Evidence points to who they were and what their motivations were for fighting on the side of slave owners.

Other Black History Features, March 2015

Who Was the 1st Black Female Ph.D.? By: Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Julie Wolf, The Root, March 30, 2015. - They Did It First: Three women are actually credited with being the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in the U.S.

4 Feet Tall, in Men’s Clothing, She Was an Artistic Genius in 19th-Century Italy. By Steven J. Niven, The Root, March 26, 2015 - A tiny woman, Edmonia Lewis built inspiring and relevant sculptures, some of which still live in the Smithsonian.

Why White Guests Clamored to Check In to Edwin Berry's Hotel. By: Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Julie Wolf, The Root, March 23, 2015. - They Did It First: In the late 1800s, Edwin C. Berry built one of the most elegant hotels in the country and refused to turn away black guests, often angering his elite white clientele.

Dr. Ben, One of the Last ‘People’s Scholars’ of Harlem, Joins the Ancestors. By: Todd Steven Burroughs, The Root, March 20, 2015. - The activist and educator Yosef ben-Jochannan, a founding scholar of Africana studies, died this week.</p>

Mary Bowser: A Brave Black Spy in the Confederate White House. By: Steven J. Niven, The Root, March 19, 2015. - Smart, cunning and fearless, Mary Bowser outsmarted Jefferson Davis and his wife for years and delivered secrets to the Union army.

The 1st Successful American-Born Magician Was a Black Man. By: Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Julie Wolf, The Root, March 16, 2015. - They Did It First: A magician, ventriloquist and illusionist, Richard Potter made history when he took the stage to perform his dazzling act.

A Cane River Tale: From Slave to Free Woman to Slave Owner. By: Steven J. Niven, The Root, March 10, 2015. - Marie-Thérèse Coincoin from Natchitoches Parish, La., began life as a laborer but lived to bequeath wealth and slaves to her many children.

The Contradictions of #Selma50. By: Kirsten West Savali, The Root, March 9, 2015 - The contradictory emotions that Selma, Ala., evokes—joy, anger, pride, pain, hope and resignation—were what made the #Selma50 weekend so necessary. But as inspiring as it was, the time has come to climb down from the shoulders of history and continue moving the country forward.

What a Slave-Reparations Claim Has to Do With Harvard Law School. By: Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Julie Wolf, The Root, March 9, 2015 - They Did It First: A prominent Massachusetts slaveholder left a fortune to Harvard University, and it has been a subject of controversy for many years.

Selma’s Heroic Marchers Remember ‘Bloody Sunday’ of 1965. By: Lottie L. Joiner, the Root, March 7, 2015 - Fifty years after risking their lives for the right to vote, Selma, Ala.’s heroes share their reflections on “Bloody Sunday” with The Root.

5 Things You Should Know About Selma. By: The Root Staff, The Root, March 6, 2015 - As the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” march, here are some facts about the movement that led to the Voting Rights Act.

Before Venus and Serena, There Were the Peters Sisters. By: Steven J. Niven, The Root, March 4, 2015 - Margaret and Roumania Peters were an unbeatable pair in the Jim Crow tennis era of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s.

Cathay Williams: She Pretended to Be a Man to Enlist as a Buffalo Soldier. By: Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Julie Wolf, The Root, March 2, 2015 - They Did It First: Despite a doctor’s examination, Cathay Williams served in the U.S. Army as a man until her ultimate discharge for medical disability.

How Black America Rallied to Stop the Racist Film The Birth of a Nation. By: E.R. Shipp, The Root, March 1, 2015 - One hundred years ago, the film that glorified the Ku Klux Klan and championed white supremacy was targeted by fledgling civil rights organizations and black media.

Other Black History Features, April-December 2015

Recognizing the Household Workers on the Front Lines of Protest in Montgomery, Ala., 1955. By: Premilla Nadasen, the Root, Nov. 23 2015. During the Montgomery Bus Boycott, African-American women who worked as domestic workers did more than stay home. They raised money, organized and helped mobilize the protest movement.

A Rare, Firsthand Account of an African Muslim Enslaved in Brazil. By Steven J. Niven, The Root, Oct. 26, 2015. Captured and stolen from Benin, Mahommah Gardo Baquaqua eventually found freedom in the United States, but he always dreamed of his African home.

The Life of Grace Lee Boggs, a Leader in the Black Power Movement  By Todd Steven Burroughs, The Root, October 6, 2015  : How a Chinese woman became one of the most well-known revolutionaries of the mid-20th century.

Is This the End of the 2nd Reconstruction? By: Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Root, Oct. 2, 2015. We see an assault on the hard-fought gains of the civil rights movement, as well as the violence against black bodies. Our response must be to declare that black lives matter.

Ada ‘Bricktop’ Smith: Once the Grande Dame of Paris’ Nightclub Scene. By:   A girl from West Virginia with flaming red hair and big dreams escaped segregated America and made herself a star in Europe.

Unbroken Spirits: Black Family Legends About Rebellious Forebears. By: Henry Louis Gates Jr., The Root, Sept. 11 2015. Tracing Your Roots: Seems like most black families have a legend of an ancestor who bucked the system in some way. Here are our three favorite columns about spirited kin.

Before Emmett Till’s Death, Willie James Howard, 15, Was Murdered in Fla.  By: Tonyaa Weathersbee, The Root, Aug. 29 2015  :  In 1944 an innocent flirtation with a white girl cost Willie James Howard his life and set off a campaign for justice.

Julian Bond’s ‘Comic’ Stance on the Vietnam War By: Todd Steven Burroughs, The Root,  Aug. 17 2015.  : Civil rights activist, organizer, speaker ... and comic book author? Yes, Julian Bond created a comic book to express his displeasure with the war in Vietnam.

The Courageous 5 Who Made History in Selma   By: Sherrel W. Stewar, The Root,  Aug. 6 2015. :  Years after the Voting Rights Act became law, five African-American men were elected to the Selma, Ala., City Council.

The Defiant One: Why You Should Know Civil Rights Icon Gloria Richardson. By: Phillip Jackson, The Root, July 7, 2015. : More than 50 years ago, the activist and pioneer stood up to the National Guard and became an inspiration to a generation of activists.

Some of the Most Significant Modern-Day Attacks on Black Churches. By: Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele, The Root, June 19, 2015. : It got so bad in the 1990s that federal legislation was enacted to punish racist arsonists more severely.

Juneteenth: 150 Years Ago, Black America Got Its Own Independence Day. By: Laura Saunders Egodigwe, the Root, June 19, 2015. : What better way to celebrate the start of summer than marking the day when the last slaves in the nation gained their freedom?

Why the Black Church Has Always Mattered. By: Peniel E. Joseph, The Root, June 19, 2015. : The black church’s radical humanism harbored a fierce resistance to slavery, a love of freedom, and a thirst for citizenship and equality.

Why Memorial Day Has Special Significance for African Americans. By: Theodore R. Johnson III, The Root, May 25, 2015. : They have long been overrepresented in the military, serving and dying for a country that has not always celebrated their freedom or rewarded their sacrifice.

Malcolm X Matters: Icon’s Words Still Ring True. By: Kirsten West Savali, The Root, May 19, 2015. : Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Neb., would have been 90 years old today.

A Bloody History of Police Brutality in Baltimore. By: Nick Alexandrov, The Root, May 4, 2015. : When the media say that violence erupted among rioters last week, they need to check their history. Violence erupted in Baltimore at least a century ago at the hands of police.

10 Landmark Cases That Show How the NAACP LDF Reshaped Racial JusticeBy: Erin E. Evans, The Root, April 28 2015.   The Root looks back at the court rulings that defined its legacy.

George McJunkin : How a Black Man’s Archaeological Discovery Changed History.  By: Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Julie Wolf, The Root, April 27 2015. They Did It First: A New Mexico cowboy, McJunkin made a discovery that ultimately established a timeline for human existence in North America.

Before Dyson and West: Remembering Black Luminaries’ ‘Rap Battles’. By: Todd Steven Burroughs, the Root, April 21, 2015. : The public nature of the dustup between Michael Eric Dyson and Cornel West has a long history in black America.

Who Was the 1st Black Prima Ballerina at the Met? By: Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Julie Wolf, The Root, April 20, 2015. They Did It First: An extraordinarily gifted dancer, Janet Collins was a groundbreaking artist of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, who dazzled Broadway and made history on the Metropolitan Opera stage.

Who Was the 1st Black Woman to Play Professional Baseball?   By Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Julie Wolf, The Root, April 13, 2015. : They Did It First: Toni Stone was in a league all her own, replacing the great Henry Aaron on the Negro Leagues’ Indianapolis squad when he moved up to the majors.

MLK’s Radicalism Speaks to Contemporary Protests. By: Peniel E. Joseph, The Root, April 4, 2015. : On this anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination, we look to his speeches of 1967 and 1968, when he attacked America’s militarism, materialism and racism.

Other Black History Features, January-December 2016

For 1st Time Ever, a Black Santa Comes to Mall of America in Minnesota.  By Monique Judge, The Root, December 1, 2016 :  Larry Jefferson is the first black Santa in the mall’s 24-year history.  Jefferson said that children are rarely fazed at meeting a black Santa.  “What they see most of time is this red suit and candy,” Jefferson said. “Santa represents a good spirit. I’m just a messenger to bring hope, love and peace to girls and boys. Anybody can be Santa; it’s what’s in your heart.”

Sojourner Truth Was Enslaved by Family of Rutgers’ 1st President.  The Root, November 24, 2016.  Like many other colleges that are now being forced to atone for their past transgressions against people of color (Georgetown’s sale of slaves to save the college, UT Austin and its fawning relationship with Jefferson Davis, Yale and its buildings named for slaveholders), Rutgers University is also soberly looking at its not-so-pristine history. In a recently released book, Scarlet and Black, Volume 1: Slavery and Dispossession in Rutgers History, Rutgers, founded in 1766, owns up to the fact that the university’s founders were slave owners, and Native Americans were displaced as land was transferred to the college. USA Today also reports the eight-month research project revealed that that abolitionist and women’s-rights activist Sojourner Truth and her parents were owned by the family of Rutgers’ first president, Jacob Hardenbergh.

President Obama's Take on Kaepernick's Anthem Protest (YouTube).  September 28, 2016.

Colin Kaepernick Explains Why He Won't Stand for the National Anthem (YouTube).  August 29, 2016.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusal to stand for the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner sheds light on national anthem and Francis Scott Key.  Almost no one seems to be aware that even if the U.S. were a perfect country today, it would be bizarre to expect African-American players to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Why? Because it literally celebrates the murder of African-Americans.  Source Jon Schwartz, "Colin Kaepernick Is Righter Than You Know: The National Anthem Is a Celebration of Slavery,  The Intercept, August 28, 2016.

Star-Spangled Bigotry: The Hidden Racist History of the National Anthem.  By Jason Johnson, The Root, July 4, 2016 :  Most people don’t know there’s more than one verse to the national anthem, and it’s the third that’s a doozy. Jason Johnson

Emancipation Day: The End of Slavery in the Capital of a Free Nation. By David Fiske, Tthe Root, April 15, 2016. : Normally celebrated on April 16, its anniversary in 1862, this year’s Emancipation Day is April 15.

That Time Jackie Robinson Was a Columnist for the Pittsburgh Courier.   By Todd Steven Burroughs, The Root, April 4, 2016. : When Jackie Robinson hit the baseball majors, it became the mission of the Negro press to keep him and his fans safe, and his very own column was part of the strategy.

Motherwit: Onnie Lee Logan’s 4 Decades as a Midwife in Alabama.   By: Steven J. Niven, The Root, March 28, 2016. : Hidden History: With a belief that her hands were guided by God, Onnie Lee Logan was a much praised and honored granny midwife for four decades in Alabama.

How NASA’s Katherine Johnson Had the Right Stuff to Win the Space Race. By Steven J. Niven, The Root, March 21 2016. : Hidden History: Her extraordinary math skills made Katherine Johnson an invaluable part of the team that sent American astronauts into space and ultimately to the moon.

Queen of the Courts: How Ora Washington Helped Philly ‘Forget the Depression’ . By Steven J. Niven, The Root, March 14 2016. : Hidden History: A tennis star and basketball legend, Washington dominated the black tennis world and paved the way for the present-day stars of the WNBA.

100 Years of Perpetual Occupation: Woodrow Wilson’s Legacy in Haiti. By Westenley Alcenat, The Root, March 12 2016. : Admirers of Woodrow Wilson overlook his crimes against the Haitian people a century ago.

Ona Judge Staines: She Challenged George Washington and Won Her Freedom Hidden History.   By Steven J. Niven, The Root, March 7 2016. Bold, brave and determined, the woman then known as Ona Judge was the only slave to ever escape from the President’s House in Philadelphia.

Proud and Free in Spanish Fla.: Juan Bautista Whitten Led a Black Militia.   By Steven J. Niven, The Root, Feb. 29, 2016. Hidden History: Alongside his wife, María Rafaela Whitten, Juan Bautista Whitten escaped slavery to establish himself in Florida as a skilled craftsman and valued soldier.

Cornelius Johnson and a Forgotten US Protest Against Hitler at the 1936 Olympics. By Steven J. Niven, The Root, Feb. 24, 2016. Hidden History: Berlin 1936 will forever be remembered as Jesse Owens’ Olympics, but it was another set of Olympians, led by Cornelius Johnson, whose personal protest against Hitler has long been ignored.

The Stono Slave Rebellion Was Nearly Erased From US History Books. By Steven J. Niven, The Root, Feb. 22 2016 . Hidden History: Led with military skill by Angolan-born fighters, the Stono Rebellion was the bloodiest slave revolt in colonial North America, but few have heard the story.

Once a Slave, Then a Soldier in a Battle for Freedom and His Family. By Steven J. Niven, The Root, Feb. 15, 2016. Hidden History: Through the writings of Spotswood Rice and his daughter Mary Bell, historians have pieced together an extraordinary tale of resilience, courage and ultimately triumph for an African-American family in the late 1800s. Once a Slave, Then a Soldier in a Battle for Freedom and His Family.

Judge Jane Bolin Battled Institutional Racism in NYC Courts for Decades. By Julie Wolf, Feb. 18, 2016 . Hidden History: An unsung champion for the rights of African Americans, Bolin had a legacy of “firsts,” including becoming the first African-American female judge in the United States.

Ralph Bunche: A Diplomat Who Would Not Negotiate on Race. By Steven J. Niven, The Root, February 8, 2016. Hidden History: Perhaps the toughest choice the career diplomat ever had to make pitted his career against his pride as an African-American man.

Black American Influence in London: An Overlooked History. By Linn Washington Jr., The Root, February 2, 2016. Six notable Black American historic figures who are commemorated and celebrated in London for their influence.

Jan Rodrigues: The 1st Black Man to Set Foot on the Island of Manhattan. By Steven J. Niven, the Root, Feb. 1, 2016. Hidden History: The story of the first African descendant who was also the first Hispanic American and first Dominican settler in New York’s Manhattan.

More Black History Features, January-December 2017

The Thibodaux Massacre Left 60 African-Americans Dead and Spelled the End of Unionized Farm Labor in the South for Decades. Smithsonian.Com, November 21, 2017. In 1887, African-American cane workers in Louisiana attempted to organize—and many paid with their lives

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/thibodaux-massacre-left-60-african-americans-dead-and-spelled-end-unionized-farm-labor-south-decades-180967289/#ptIp0jLXFj8IMo13.99 Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

A war hero who was a stranger in his own land. John Blake, CNN, November 19, 2017.  Thomas J. Hudner Jr., a former Navy pilot who won the Medal of Honor for attempting to rescue a fellow pilot during the Korean War, died Monday. He was 93. Hudner talked with CNN last year about his remarkable friendship with the pilot, Jesse Leroy Brown, who was the Navy's first black aviator.

Missouri v. Celia, a Slave: She killed the white master raping her, then claimed self-defense.  Deneen L. Brown, Washington Post, October 19, 2017.  In Missouri in 1855,  it was a crime “to take any woman unlawfully against her will and by force, menace or duress, compel her to be defiled,” allowing women to argue self-defense in resisting such assaults. Did that law apply to enslaved women?  Celia’s court-appointed defense lawyer argued that it did. He asked Circuit Court Judge William Hall to instruct the jury that a slave master had no right to rape a slave and that the slaying could be considered justifiable.  But the judge refused to give the jury those instructions.

The NFL couldn’t keep Colin Kaepernick off the field,  Adam Kilgore, Washington Post, September 26, 2017.  “One day, maybe my youngest, who is in second grade, is going to open up a history book and he’ll read about Colin,” Phil Sanchez, Colin Kaepernick’s high school guidance counselor, told Kent Babb this summer. “And it won’t have anything to do with throwing a touchdown.”  The notion of Kaepernick as an American historical figure was cemented this weekend. Among NFL players, the preferred method of protest — taking a knee — and the impetus to use the national anthem as a platform for expression traces back to Kaepernick. It was a momentous weekend, and it was shaped primarily by someone who wasn’t there. NFL teams may not have signed him to play quarterback this season, but they could not keep Kaepernick off the field.  Donald Trump prompted mass player protests during the national anthem with his caustic remarks Friday night and tweets all day Saturday. He left players with little choice but to respond, and many players took their cues from Kaepernick.

Vandals damage historical marker commemorating 1917 uprising by black soldiers. Deneen L. Brown, Washington Post, Sepember 8, 2017.

My mother was sold from me’: After slavery, the desperate search for loved ones in ‘last seen ads’ Deneen L. Brown, Washington Post, September 7, 2017.  Ten months after the Civil War ended, an enslaved woman who had been ripped away from her children started looking for them.  Elizabeth Williams, who had been sold twice since she last saw her children, placed a heart-wrenching ad in a newspaper: “INFORMATION WANTED by a mother concerning her children,” Williams wrote March 17, 1866, in the Christian Recorder newspaper in Philadelphia. Her ad was one of thousands taken out by formerly enslaved people looking for lost relatives after the Civil War. Those ads are now being digitized in a project called “Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery,” which is run by Villanova University’s graduate history program in collaboration with Philadelphia’s Mother Bethel AME Church.

Thurgood Marshall asked an ex-Klan member to help him make Supreme Court history. Deneen L. Brown, Washington Post, September 1, 2017.  Fifty years ago, Thurgood Marshall, the grandson of an enslaved man who had become one of the country’s most famous litigators, was about to be sworn in as the first African American justice on the Supreme Court. And Marshall wanted to take the constitutional oath of office from Hugo Black, a white associate justice who had once been a member of the Ku Klux Klan.  Although Black had once been a member of the Klan, “when he got into the court, he turned out to be one of the most liberal justices,” she said. And Justice Black and Justice Marshall became friends, serving together until Black’s retirement from the court on Sept. 17, 1971.

A surgeon experimented on slave women without anesthesia. Now his statues are under attack. Deneen L. Brown, Washington Post, August 29, 2017.  Amid demands to remove Confederate statues across the country, cries have grown louder to dismantle monuments to J. Marion Sims, the “father of gynecology,” a white 19th-century doctor who performed surgical experiments on enslaved black women without anesthesia.

The day President Reagan comforted a black family who had a KKK cross burned on its lawn. Deneen L. Brown, Washington Post, August 27, 2017.  President Reagan read the story about the cross burning in his morning Washington Post. A black family in College Park, Md., had just won a civil suit against a young Ku Klux Klan leader who had been convicted of terrorizing the family five years earlier.  Reagan’s deputy press secretary, Larry Speakes, said the president was jarred by what had happened to Phillip and Barbara Butler. “That was the first thing on his mind this morning,” Speakes told The Post on May 3, 1982. White House Chief of Staff James Baker and Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Deaver walked into the Oval Office, and the first thing he said to them was, “ ‘I’ve read this story. I’d like to go see these people.’ ”

‘Detroit’ and the police brutality that left three black teens dead at the Algiers Motel. Deneen L. Brown, Washington Post, August 4, 2017.  Forty-three people died during the devastating riots that gripped Detroit in 1967. But it was the brutal deaths of three black teenagers — killed by police at the Algiers Motel — that garnered the most attention.  The slayings of Aubrey Pollard, 19; Fred Temple, 18; and Carl Cooper, 17, are now the subject of a critically acclaimed Hollywood movie. In “Detroit,” director Kathryn Bigelow “drills down into one of American history’s most egregious cases of abuse of police power, bringing it to life with visceral detail,” Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday said in her review. 

Althea Gibson’s amazing win at Wimbledon in 1957 paved the way for Venus and Serena.  DeNeen L. Brown, Washington Post, July 14, 2017.  Sixty years ago this month, Althea Gibson became the first African American to win a championship at Wimbledon. With a powerful serve and an astonishing reach, Gibson dominated the court at the All-England club, defeating Darlene Hard in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2, despite 96-degree heat.  Gibson, who began playing tennis in Harlem as a child, had broken tennis’s color barrier. “At last! At last!” she shouted, before accepting the coveted trophy from Queen Elizabeth II.

The first woman to start a bank — a black woman — finally gets her due in the Confederacy’s capitalDeNeen L. Brown, Washington Post, July 4, 2017.  Maggie L. Walker started a newspaper. She was the first country’s first woman to found a bank. She was a humanitarian, a teacher, an icon of her community in 1920s Richmond.  She was also the daughter of a former slave.  Walker’s accomplishments in the face of racial oppression and segregation have never been honored in her hometown in the same way as the Confederate leaders whose statues are the focal point of downtown Richmond.

Life or death for black travelers’: How fear led to ‘The Negro Motorist Green-Book.  DeNeen L. Brown, Washington Post, June 1, 2017.  In the 1930s, the freedom of the open road beckoned, but for African Americans traveling in the Jim Crow era, highways could be fraught with peril.  Stopping at the wrong roadside diner could lead to discrimination and “embarrassments.” Running out of gas on a highway could lead to an encounter with the Ku Klux Klan. Making a bad turn into a “sundown town” — where African Americans were not permitted after dark — could lead to a lynching. Some of those towns constructed signs at their borders warning, “N—–, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On You.”  “It was life or death for black travelers,” said Candacy Taylor, a Harvard fellow and cultural documentarian working on a project about what was first known as “The Negro Motorist Green-Book.”

You’ve got bad blood’: The horror of the Tuskegee syphilis experimentDeNeen L. Brown,  Washington Post, May 16, 2017.  In the fall of 1932, the fliers began appearing around Macon County, Ala., promising “colored people” special treatment for “bad blood.”  “Free Blood Test; Free Treatment, By County Health Department and Government Doctors,” the black and white signs said. “YOU MAY FEEL WELL AND STILL HAVE BAD BLOOD. COME AND BRING ALL YOUR FAMILY.”  Hundreds of men — all black and many of them poor — signed up. Some of the men thought they were being treated for rheumatism or bad stomachs. They were promised free meals, free physicals and free burial insurance.  What the signs never told them was they would become part of the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male,” a secret experiment conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service to study the progression of the deadly venereal disease — without treatment.

Hunting Down Runaway Slaves: The Cruel Ads of Andrew Jackson and "the Master Class",  DeNeen L. Brown,  Washington Post, May 1, 2017.  Stop the Runaway,” Andrew Jackson urged in an ad placed in the Tennessee Gazette in October 1804. The future president gave a detailed description: A “Mulatto Man Slave, about thirty years old, six feet and an inch high, stout made and active, talks sensible, stoops in his walk, and has a remarkable large foot, broad across the root of the toes — will pass for a free man …” Jackson, who would become the country’s seventh commander in chief in 1829, promised anyone who captured this “Mulatto Man Slave” a reward of $50, plus “reasonable” expenses paid.  Jackson added a line that some historians find particularly cruel.  It offered “ten dollars extra, for every hundred lashes any person will give him, to the amount of three hundred.”

When Henrietta Lacks had cervical cancer, it was a ‘death sentence.’ Her cells would help change that.  DeNeen L. Brown,  Washington Post, April 22, 2017. 

Tracing His Roots, Georgetown Employee Learns University Sold His Ancestor.  Audra D. S. Burch.  New York Times.  March 24, 2017 : As a Georgetown employee, Jeremy Alexander watched as the university grappled with its haunted past: the sale of slaves in 1838 to help rescue it from financial ruin....   He listened as Georgetown’s president apologized for its sins and looked for ways to make amends. And Mr. Alexander observed, with wonder, some of the slave descendants when they visited the campus....  What he did not know at the time: He was one of them.

7 Times Harriet Tubman Was a Badass Superhero.  Genetta M. Adams.  The Root, March 10, 2017. : Harriet Tubman is having a moment. Right now she is the “it” girl of history.

America’s always had black inventors – even when the patent system explicitly excluded them. Shontavia Johnson.  The Conservation, February 14, 2017. : American slaves couldn't hold property – including patents on their own inventions. But that didn't stop black Americans from innovating since the beginning of the country's history.

The story of Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, America’s first black pop star.  Adam Gustafson.  The Conservation, February 6, 2017.  : In the 19th century, critics and audiences thought blacks were incapable of singing as well as their white, European counterparts. Greenfield forced them to reconcile their ears with their racism.

Michigan State University