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African-Americans & the Black Experience: Art, Literature, Film, & Videos


The Polinators mural in Lawrence, KA

The Polinators mural in Lawrence, KA | David Loewenstein (From Wikimedia Commons)
Located in downtown Lawrence, this mural was painted by the
community as a tribute to African-American artists with Kansas roots.

The history of African American art stretches back to the 18th and 19th centuries and continues today.  African American artists have produced a rich and varied body of work that embodies a wide variety of styles and techniques.

Visual Art During the Harlem Renaissance.   Coinciding with the Great Migration by African-Americans from the South to Northern cities, the term “Harlem Renaissance” is used to describe the thriving art, music, and literary scene in New York City during the 1920s and 1930s. This set of primary sources highlights the multi-media visual art of this era, which vibrantly celebrates African-American and African history and culture. Additionally, the visual art created by African-American artists of the Harlem Renaissance sometimes offers subtle criticism of the status of African-Americans in the United States at that time.  Courtesy of Kerry Dunne and Lakisha Odlum and the Digital Public Library of America.

  • Charles Alston
  • Jean-Michel Basquiat
  • Romare Bearden
  • Richard J. Brown
  • Willie Cole
  • Robert H. Colescott
  • Aaron Douglas
  • Sam Gilliam
  • Tyree Guyton
  • Jacob Lawrence
  • William H. Johnson
  • Edomonia (Mary) Lewis
  • Martin Puryear
  • Faith Ringgold
  • Alison Saar
  • Betye Saar
  • John T. Scott
  • Henry Ossawa Tanner
  • James Van Der Zee
  • Kara Walker
  • Eugene Warburg
  • Carrie Mae Weems
  • James Wells
  • Fred Wilson

A Radically Prosaic Approach to Civil Rights Images.  By Maurice Berger.  Lens, New York Times, July 16, 2012.

Take a look at this article for a selection of full-color images of Parks' photos of African Americans during the Civil Rights Era.

More of Parks' work can be viewed at the Gordon Parks Foundation Archives.


African American History pictures with captions via Pinterest.

African American Images from the Library of Congress.  See more on Flickr Commons from institutions like the US National Archives, George Eastman House, the Smithsonian and more. 

African American Photographs Assembled for 1900 Paris Exposition.  The Paris Exposition of 1900 included a display devoted to the history and "present conditions" of African Americans. W.E.B. Du Bois and special agent Thomas J. Calloway spearheaded the planning, collection and installation of the exhibit materials, which included 500 photographs. The Library of Congress holds approximately 220 mounted photographs reportedly displayed in the exhibition (LOTs11293-11308), as well as material specially compiled by Du Bois: four photograph albums showing "Types" and "Negro Life" (LOT 11930); three albums entitled "The Black Code of Georgia, U.S.A.," offering transcriptions of Georgia state laws relating to blacks, 1732-1899 (LOT 11932); and 72 drawings charting the condition of African Americans at the turn of the century (LOT 11931). The materials cataloged online include all of the photos in LOT 11930, and any materials in the other groups for which copy negatives have been made.

African American Soldiers in the Civil War.  The American Civil War was one of the first conflicts captured by photographers. In celebration of Black History Month, TIME looks at images of African-American soldiers and their families who played myriad roles in the country's bloodiest conflict. Courtesy of Time Magazine, February 7, 2012.

African Americans pictures with captions via Pinterest.

The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas : A Visual Record.  Jerome S. Handler and Michael L. Tuite Jr.  The approximately 1,235 images in this collection have been selected from a wide range of sources, most of them dating from the period of slavery. This collection is envisioned as a tool and a resource that can be used by teachers, researchers, students, and the general public - in brief, anyone interested in the experiences of Africans who were enslaved and transported to the Americas and the lives of their descendants in the slave societies of the New World.  Provided by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and University of Virginia. 

Beyond Face Value : Depictions of Slavery in Confederate Currency.  A project of the Civil War Center.  Many Southern notes did not feature images of slavery; this exhibit focuses on the ones that did. This collection features notes issued and circulated in the South during the Antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction Eras. Notes were issued by various entities, including the Confederate government, state governments, merchants, and railroad companies.  Provides jointly by the Louisiana State University Libraries and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.  Also posted under Web Sites.

Birmingham News (Alabama) Unseen / Unforgotten Photo Collection. Images of the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham.  Also posted under Web Sites.

Black History pictures With captions via Pinterest.

Blacks Studies Center : Schomberg Studies on the Black Experience.  Click on the images choice for a selection of short images sorted into the following categories:

Abolitionism (97) | Africa (122) | Art and artists (145) | Cinema, stage and TV (109) | Civil rights campaigns 1954-68 (336) | Civil rights campaigns 1968- (128) | Civil rights campaigns before 1954 (47) | Education (117) | Labor (80) | Law and order (180) | Literature (68) | Military (91) | Music (250) | Politics (191) | Religion (110) | Segregation and white supremacists (243) | Slavery (266) | Social (224) | South America and the Caribbean (49) | Sport (145)

Celebrating Black History : 50 Cultural Giants. A photograph collection courtesy of Time magazine.

Civil Rights Era in the U.S. News and World Report Photographs Collection.  Selected images from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Reading Room.  Also listed under Web Sites.

Civil Rights Movement pictures with captions from Pinterest.

Civil Rights Movement Veterans Photo Gallery.  Photographs taken and collected by the Southern Freedom Movement during the Civil Rights struggle.

Cornell University
Loewenthell Collection of African American Photographs
Cornell has digitized a collection of African-American photography. “The Loewentheil Collection of African-American Photographs, part of Beth and Stephan Loewentheil’s 2012 donation of photography to Cornell University Library, contains a trove of vital information about African-American life… The photographs include tintypes of freed slaves and personal family photo albums, dating from the 1850s to the mid-20th century. They encompass daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, carte-de-visite photographs, albumen prints, Polaroids and more.”

Ernest C. Withers Civil Rights Collection from the Panopticon Gallery.

Gordon Parks Alternative Civil Rights Photos : shared by Maurice Berger in an article entitled A Radically Prosaic Approach to Civil Rights Images, New York Times, July 16, 2012.

Harlem Renaissance pictures with captions from Pinterest.

Harriet Tubman collection via Pinterest (with captions)

Historic Images of African-Americans During the Great Depression. Photographs from the Farm Security Administration which collected and kept a record of American life between 1935-1944.  Courtesy of Time Magazine, February 16, 2012.

Historically Black : Collecting experiences of lived black history. A project by The Washington Post.

A House Divided: America in the Age of Lincoln.  This digital history project looks at the decades leading up the American Civil War, with slavery as central to the culture and politics of the time. The site includes many images, and narration, in collaboration of historians, contextualizes them.  Also see Overview of Slavery which contains an image gallery.

Images of African-American Slavery and Freedom. The Library of Congress responded to repeated requests from patrons by putting together a collection of images. The images show various aspects of the slave trade, including depictions of villages in Africa, of ships used in the Middle Passage, and signs advertising slave auctions.

Images of African Americans from the Nineteenth Century.  Courtesy of the Digital Schomberg, 1999.

Library of Congress Newspaper Images via Flicker : In 2008, the Library of Congress began offering historical photograph collections through Flickr in order to share some of our most popular images with a new visual community. Now, the Library of Congress has expanded its Flickr collections to include illustrated and visual content from historic American newspapers available in its online collections.

Life Photo Archive Hosted by Google : Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google. Heh, it may not be from a newspaper but it compliments the AP Images collection.

Little Richard : Rare Photos of Rock and Roll's Original Wild Man.

March on Washington, August 1963 : Power to the People.  Photos courtesyof Life Magazine.

New York Public Library Digital Gallery : Africana and Black History. Click on images link.

Photographs of African Americans During the Civil War: A List of Images in the Civil War Photograph Collection

Portrait of Black Chicago.  From June through October 1973 and briefly during the spring of 1974, John H. White, a 28-year-old photographer with the Chicago Daily News, worked for the federal government photographing Chicago, especially the city`s African American community. White took his photographs for the Environmental Protection Agency`s (EPA) DOCUMERICA project. As White reflected recently, he saw his assignment as "an opportunity to capture a slice of life, to capture history." His photographs portray the difficult circumstances faced by many of Chicago`s African American residents in the early 1970s, but they also catch the "spirit, love, zeal, pride, and hopes of the community."

Powerful Days : The Civil Rights Photography of Charles Moore.  This website was produced by Ohio University Knight Fellow John Kaplan as partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Masters of Science Degree in Journalism.

Powerful Days in Black and White.  Shocking photos brought the Civil Rights Struggle to all Americans. Relive it now through the eys of photojournalist Charles Moore.  There are common names associated with the civil rights movement, like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. And there are lesser-known names like Charles Moore. His photos, which often appeared in Life magazine in the 1960s, are the ones that put faces to a movement for most Americans.  NPR did an All Things Considered episode on him on the occasion of his death on May 16, 2010.

Rosa Parks collection from Pinterest (with captions)

Selma to Montgomery : A March for the Right to Vote.  A visual history by Spider Martin.

Underground Railroad collection via Pinterest.

Vintage Black Beauty & History!  A collection by Angela Williams via Pinterest.

Walter Gordon Collection of Photographs.  In the first half of the 20th century, the well-known African American attorney Walter L. Gordon had his office next to the African American newspaper, the California Eagle. The photographers for the paper often shot pictures of Black social life in Los Angeles, and once printed these photos were often discarded. Gordon saved many of these photos and began collecting the images, which often depicted leading members of the Black community in Los Angeles. His collection made its way to UCLA, and their digital collections group digitized over 800 of his photographs. Here visitors will find images of black resorts such as Val Verde, local political figures, and a range of jazz legends, such as Count Basie and Billie Holliday. Currently, visitors can view almost 300 of these items, and they can browse the photos by language, name, subject, or type. There are some real gems in here, including a great photo of Lionel Hampton on the stage and a cast photo of the members of "Carmen Jones" at an informal gathering. The image viewer here is quite impressive, as visitors can add a grid of select photos for comparative viewing and also manipulate each image as they see fit.

Subscription Free & Long Videos

Just Mercy streaming for free through June 2020.

Selected TV & Film Resources

Adam Clayton Powell Explains Black Power 1968 :  (YouTube) 1:41 minutes

African American History Month Audio/Video from the Library of Congress.  Audio and video presentations present a sampling of the material related to African American history available from the Library of the Congress and other partner agencies. These include Webcasts as well as musical recordings and unique sound artifacts, such as the stories of African Americans.

African Americans in World War II : A Legacy of Patriotism and Valor.   (YouTube). 1:09:32 minutes

Aamer Rahman (Fear of a Brown Planet) - Reverse Racism  (YouTube). 2:48 minutes

America After Charleston (PBS)  (YouTube) 56:40 minutes : Moderated by PBS Newshour’s Gwen Ifill, America After Charleston is a one-hour town hall meeting that explores the many issues propelled into public discourse after a white gunman shot and killed nine African-America parishoners in Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015.

Amos 'n' Andy : Anatomy of a Controversy  / 48 minutes.  Available on the Internet via YouTube  / Looks at the history of the Amos and Andy characters from their inception on radio to the first all black cast show on American TV in 1951. After the NAACP exerted pressure on CBS for what they perceived as a program that shed a negative light on African Americans and reinforced stereotypes, the network canceled the series after a few years. The show was also pulled from reruns in the mid 60's for the same reasons. Hosted by comedian George Kirby, this documentary features rare archival clips and interviews with former TV cast members, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Redd Foxx, Marla Gibbs and former NAACP leaders of that era. A shortened episode from the 1951-1953 CBS series is also featured. Amos 'n Andy: Anatomy of a Controversy aptly tells its story, but, even now, the show remains an infamous, largely unseen chapter in TV history.

Amos and Andy Radio Show.  The Internet Archive provides access to a number of the Amos and Andy Radio Show broadcasts.   Also check out the Amos 'N Andy web site by TV Party. 

Black History videos available from  They broke records. They crossed boundaries. They changed the lives of millions. Watch video of some of Black History's most important, controversial and inspiring figures.

Cicely Tison Performs Ain't I A Woman (by Sojourner Truth)  (YouTube). 3:37 minutes :  First Lady Michelle Obama joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other lawmakers and dignitaries on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to unveil a bust of Sojourner Truth, the 19th-century slave turned abolitionist who was also a fiery advocate for womens rights.

Kerri Washington Performs Ain't I A Woman (by Sojourner Truth)  (YouTube).  3:09 minutes  Actress Kerry Washington reads the 1851 speech of abolitionist Sojourner Truth. Part of a reading from Voices of a People's History of the United States (Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove) October 5, 2005 in Los Angeles California.

Amazing Grace - Horrors of the Middle Passage, 8 minute streaming video courtesy of Amazing Stories : Kidnapped Africans, captured as slaves, endured unimaginably horrific conditions aboard ship.  Sent from their African homelands to a “new world” not their own, many died during the crossing.  Sick people were deliberately drowned.  This clip, from the movie Amistad, graphically portrays what was legally acceptable during the years of the slave trade.

America After Ferguson PBS Town Meeting broadcast.  56:46 minutes.

Another View available as streaming video during 2013 courtesy of PBS. This public television program addresses issues specific to the vibrant African American community. From the witty and sometimes controversial comments of the Another View Round Table pundits, to sensitive issues such as intra-racial discrimination, Another View never shies away from the tough topics. Plus, every week Reporter/Producer Lisa Godley showcases something positive being done in the Black community in an effort to show a more balanced portrait of African American culture. Another View is produced and hosted by veteran journalist/broadcaster Barbara Hamm Lee, WHRO’s Creative Services Officer, responsible for the marketing and promotion of WHRO....Another View proudly runs as a weekly radio show on WHRV-FM. Visit the website to download this week's podcast. You can also watch previous episodes of Another View's Television Program (from 2009 – 2011) in our video archive.

Danielle McGuire, "At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance"  via Book TV.  YouTube.  10:10.   Danielle McGuire, assistant history professor at Wayne State University, recounts the politically active life of Rosa Parks, a side of the civil rights figure that the author contends has been underreported. Ms. McGuire recalls Rosa Parks' involvement as an NAACP organizer who in 1944 investigated the rape of Recy Taylor, a black sharecropper, who was attacked by seven white men on her way home from church. According to the author the incident solidified Rosa Parks' activism long before her refusal to move from her seat aboard a Montgomery bus in 1955. Ms. McGuire also explores the sexual abuse that black women faced by white men during the Jim Crow era and how their resistance added in fueling the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement. Danielle McGuire discusses her book at the Decatur Library in Decatur, Georgia.

Baltimore: The Issues Behind the Uprising | #GRITtv via YouTube (19:32).  Posted June 15, 2015.  The media called it a riot, but on the streets of Baltimore they call it an uprising. The police murder of Freddie Gray ignited mass protests that have been called Black Spring. But in working class Black communities across the city, the issues go beyond police violence. Over a quarter of Baltimore residents are paying more than half of their income to housing. Nearly 150,000 cases a year are brought to Baltimore City Rent Court because tenants are unable to pay their rent. Over 30% of rental housing in Baltimore is considered so substandard it's uninhabitable. Jobs are gone, schools are underfunded, and money for development only goes to the wealthy communities. The Laura Flanders Show heard all this and more from the people on the front lines of the struggle.

Barack Obama - Inaugural Address streaming video courtesy of Amazing Stories : On the 20th of January, 2009, Barack H. Obama became America's 44th President.  His inaugural speech, given at a time of great economic concerns, addressed not just the problems of the country but also the significant progress America has made throughout her history.

Black Culture Connection / PBS.  Beta mode.

Black Holocaust, Part 1.  (9:59 minutes)  YouTube.

Black Holocaust, Part 2. (10:33 minutes)  YouTube.

Black Holocaust, Part 3. (11:00 minutes)  YouTube

Black Holocaust, Part 4. (10:41 minutes)  YouTube.

Black Holocaust, Part 5(10:18 minutes)  YouTube.

Black Holocaust, Part 6(10:33 minutes)  YouTube.

Black Holocaust, Part 7.   (9:37 minutes)  YouTube.

#BlackLivesMatter - Trailer Available on ITunes. Film available, click on Documentaries tab for more information.

Black Purdue documentary film via YouTube ; Drawing upon numerous sources, including books on Purdue, newspaper archives, yearbooks and nearly 25 hours of personal interviews with black alumni, this documentary begins at a time when black students were denied campus food and housing, were barred from campus social life, and banned from college sports. It records the subsequent decades of struggle, the on-campus protests in the 1960s and the steady progress over the years that accorded black students equal rights. November 24, 2009.

Black Stereotypes (YouTube) : The producers do not tolerate or support hatred or racism in any form. This film merely illustrates how blacks have been portrayed by filmmakers in the past....Every race, ethnicity, creed, gender, lifestyle, etc has it's stereotypes. Gay interior decorators, Chinese laundry, Hispanic gardeners, Irish cops, Italian gangsters, etc...These images are just a small sampling of how black people have been portrayed on a daily basis for many, many years....All of the clips used in this film were shown regularly on television up until the mid 1980's. Many episodes of the Little Rascals have been "ethnically cleansed" over the years. Some 20 minute episodes were edited down to a mere 8 after removing all racial images/slurs, while several episodes were removed completely from the series....All of the movie studios of the time, both big & small produced live-action films and cartoons portraying blacks in this manner. Theaters in the South would cut out any scene of a black performer that was not shown as a slave, servant or as comic relief....These films are a product of their times and provide visual documentation of how society, "kept the man down"....Has anything really changed so many years later?

Black U.S. Soldiers in Australia. Part 1 of 6. Streaming video from YouTube.

Black U.S. Soldiers in Australia. Part 2 of 6. Streaming video.

Black U.S. Soldiers in Australia. Part 3 of 6. Streaming video.

Black U.S. Soldiers in Australia. Part 4 of 6. Streaming video.

Black U.S. Soldiers in Australia. Part 5 of 6. Streaming video.

Black U.S. Soldiers in Australia. Part 6 of 6. Streaming video

Celebrating African American Achievements in Film and TV. Beginning back as far as the early 1900s, African Americans have continuously pushed back barriers in film and television.

Courage to Love.  (YouTube)  91 minutes. : In 19th century New Orleans a new class of colored people has arisen. They are creoles, a result of relations between African-Americans and wealthy European people. Children are born, there is love, but marriage is out of the question. Colored people are still not considered equal. Henriette Delille is a very religious creole. The time she has she spends on educating, care and helping out in church. On the day her father Jean-Baptiste leaves her mother Pouponne to marry a white woman, Henriette is supposed to meet her arranged future 'caretaker' Paul Cartier. But she refuses him, defying every tradition and so bringing her mother to madness. She becomes friends with the French doctor Gerard Gaultier. He is in love with her and wants her to move to France, so they can be legally married. Henriette is torn apart by her feelings for Gerard and her devotion to the church. She must choose, but neither choice is going to be an easy one as there are people who greatly disapprove of Henriette's ideas of breaking traditions....This inspiring true story of heroism and love illuminates the extraordinary life of Henriette Dalille, the first African-American saint.

A Distant Shore : African Americans on D-Day streaming video from Awesome Stories : About 2,000 African-Americans were among the Allied troops who stormed Normandy's beaches on D-Day.  Many more came ashore later.  They were given little credit at the time and faced ongoing discrimination when they returned home.  An Emmy-nominated documentary about their participation was finally made, and broadcast by the History Channel, in 2008.  This is a clip from that work.  Note:  we have the entire DVD listed under documentaries.

DuSable to Obama : Chicago's Black Metropolis  available as streaming video. Through the voices of its leading citizens, scholars, artists, politicians, and business leaders, DuSable to Obama: Chicago's Black Metropolis explores the history of Chicago's African-American community from 1779 to present day. Moments of triumph and challenge are told, as the unsung heroisms of everyday men and women are celebrated. Chicago’s rich history is also explored through notable figures like Senator Carol Moseley-Braun, American soul singer and songwriter Jerry Butler, and acclaimed artist and writer Margaret Burroughts. Watch the feature length documentary, DuSable to Obama, or visit the expansive site with interactive timelines, quizzes and more.

ESPN 30 for 30 : "Spike Lee's Lil' Joints : 2 Fists Up  YouTube.  58 minutes : When University of Missouri football players threatened to boycott their game with Brigham Young University last November unless president Tim Wolfe resigned, they made news far beyond the sports pages and Columbia, Missouri. But that was only one chapter in a tale that began long before that — a tale that director Spike Lee unspools in this Lil’ Joints documentary for ESPN Films. Yes, the athletes played a significant role in forcing Wolfe’s resignation, but it was really the female organizers of the Concerned Student 1950 movement, as well as a man, Jonathan Butler, willing to starve himself, who stood tallest in the confrontation with institutional racism at Mizzou. Indeed, their courage and resolve brings hope to the message chanted at the end of the film: “We gonna be all right.”

Ferguson : Life Matters.   In the wake of several police shootings of unarmed black Americans, Ferguson: Life Matters goes to the hometown of Mike Brown, one such unarmed black American whose murderer has since walked free and left the Ferguson Police Department on his own accord. We are guided throughout the film by a Missouri resident who is credited as a student and musician as he addresses what he perceives to be the roots of the problems in the inner city and gives insights on what he and the people around him feel would be appropriate solutions, or at least appropriate viewpoints for assessing the issues.   We are given a glimpse of the protests happening in Ferguson not only as movements for a solution, but also as an opportunity for those who would choose to do the neighborhood harm to do just that through looting and property destruction. A staggeringly small amount of this property destruction is aimed at the police or any external factor perceived to do harm to the people of the community, but is instead directed at local entrepreneurs who have only worked to service the community's economy.  The fact that we aren't provided with much more than opinions and a bit of figurative b-roll means that this probably won't be the definitive documentary film on the subject of Ferguson's racial climate, Mike Brown, or the underserved minority population on Ferguson; all subjects touched on in this film. Instead hard facts or statistically based graphs of any kind, we are presented with the opinions of religious figures, local business owners, and even some of our young guide's friends.   The film comes to a point where we are taken into to the guide's recording studio session; not entirely necessary for providing us with context on what the film is all about. Still, it opens up a dialogue and keeps a conversation going about an injustice that is bigger than one place and one person.  Courtesy of Top Documentary Films.

The Flying Ace / Norman Film Studios, 1926.  YouTube clip.  Advertisement.  Note : Try Netflix or Amazon Instant Video.  The Flying Ace is a black-and-white silent film ( 65 minutes) with an all-African American cast. This six-reel film, made by Norman Studios in Jacksonville, Florida, features Laurence Criner as a flying ace who returns to the United States after World War I, and Kathryn Boyd, who was also a pilot in "real life", as a character based on African American aviator Bessie Coleman. Kathryn Boyd also served briefly as a prostitute in the opening scene. Bessie Coleman was the worlds first licensed Black pilot was killed in a tragic crash the same year as the films release while on a barnstorming circuit. Testing a 'Flying Jenny,' Ms Coleman's airplane went into a sudden dive crashing at Paxon Air Field in West Jacksonville, Florida. Ms. Coleman was thrown from the plane and killed. Paxon Air Field has been closed since the mid 1950's, not a trace of the original field remains today buried by the rapid urbanization of Jacksonville. In July 2010, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival showed a restored print of The Flying Ace at the Castro Theatre.

Freedom Ride Inspires Participants To Create Change.  Four Gray Line buses idle noisily at the curb by Branscomb Quadrangle as the sun slowly rises over a sleeping Greek Row. A group has quietly gathered on the steps out front -- a mix of students, faculty and staff -- shouldering overnight bags and sipping cups of coffee while members of the media prepare to capture their departure....Clearly, this is not just any trip. The group will ride from Nashville, Tenn., to Montgomery and Birmingham, Ala., retracing the Freedom Rides of 1961, which were part of the movement that led to the end of segregation in the South. What's more, several of the original Freedom Riders will join the group to share their experiences first-hand along the way.  Vanderbilt University (2008)  Courtesy of YouTube.

The Freedom Riders (1): 1961 Effort to Challenge Segregated Bus System.  The Freedom Riders: New Documentary Recounts Historic 1961 Effort to Challenge Segregated Bus System in the Deep South. The International Civil Rights Center and Museum opens today in Greensboro, North Carolina at the site of the historic 1960 Woolworths sit-in. To mark the start of Black History Month, we turn to the story of another group of young people who were inspired by the success of the nonviolent strategy of the Greensboro sit-in. Starting in May of 1961, mixed groups of black and white students began taking interstate buses into the Deep South, risking their lives to challenge segregation. They called themselves the Freedom Riders. White mobs responded with violence. One bus was set on fire with the Freedom Riders. Numerous Freedom Riders were brutally beaten and hospitalized. We speak to Stanley Nelson, the director of the new documentary The Freedom Riders that premiered at Sundance last week. We also speak to two of the original Freedom Riders, Bernard Lafayette and Jim Zwerg....  Courtesy of YouTube.

The Freedom Riders (2): 1961 Effort to Challenge Segregated Bus System

The Freedom Riders (3): 1961 Effort to Challenge Segregated Bus System

The Freedom Riders (4): 1961 Effort to Challenge Segregated Bus System

General Baker at Benton Harbor Rally.

General Baker : From Motown to Coal Town.  General Baker discusses the history of union organizing in Detroit and the connection between the UMWA and the UAW.

The Great Migration (History Channel video clip)

Herb Heilbrun and John Leahr. The History Channel's This Week in History film clip via YouTube.  Two pilots from World War II, one a B17 pilot and the other a P51 escort pilot and member of the Tuskegee Airmen / Redtails, discover they were not only pilots on some of the same missions but grew up in the same town  and were in 3rd grade together.

I Ain't From Africa The Documentary / Gaston Woodland.  Streaming video from YouTube.  63 minutes.

In the Words of Fannie Lou Hamer.  A film by Laurie Parker.  Includes music by Joan Baez.  Courtesy of YouTube.

International Storytelling Conference (2013) Many Stories but One World - Diane Ferlatte.  To learn a culture, learn its stories.   Listen to the story of the hambone.  The story of Papa Legba reminding that there are two sides to every story.   The world is full of different cultures; take time to listen to other people's stories too.

Jesse Williams on the Importance of BET Special 'Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement'   YouTube. 32 minutes : It’s one thing to yell and want change but it’s an entirely different thing to actively affect the policies in place that cause the community to constantly face off against systems and thoughts counterproductive to equality or simply respecting blacks. Our recent guest Jesse Williams is playing his part on both fronts, taking it to social media but more importantly to the front door of change and demanding that it be opened for many like him. As an actor, his weapon of choice is the big screen and with the help of the original founders ‘Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement’ will allow many to not only speak out but encourage positive action.... Whether it is the Missouri football team standing tall against their institution, the ongoing Ferguson efforts or the nation simply going to the polls to vote given the fact at one point it was illegal for blacks to do so – the commonality is shared, do what you can with what you have to make a difference. You will hear a lot about who isn’t doing what or who should be doing more when it comes to celebs, athletes, actors, etc. but those like Jesse Williams should be encouraged with that same energy it took to speak negative about the lack of support from those “who have made it.” ... Instead of looking at the television screen saying they should be doing more, do your own research and see what you can do as an individual to help things progress in a positive way.

Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, Racist Cartoons Collection.  A collection of cartoons from the Jim Crow era of early 20th century America courtesy of Ferris State University.

Kathleen Cleaver Interview on American Black Journal (YouTube).  Stephen Henderson interviews Kathleen Cleaver, Emory University Professor of Law and former Communications Secretary of the Black Panther Party. Cleaver discusses the start of the Black Panther Party, similarities and differences between the Black Lives Matter and Black Power movements, the role of women within the Party, and much more.

Legacy of Claudia JonesPart One and Part Two.  Presentation by Andrea Egypt.  Courtesy of YouTube.

Life of Sojourner Truth : Ain't I A Woman (YouTube Clip) 26 minutes, color.  Despite being born without any advantages and being unable to either read or write, Isabella, self-named Sojourner Truth at age 30, became a famous orator who spoke out against the sins of slavery, and for the rights of women. Told in the voices of those who knew her and were changed by her eloquent words concerning freedom and equality, this dramatization chronicles the major events that led Sojourner Truth to be a force for good, a force that helped change the United States from a slave nation to a free nation. Dramatized interviews include Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Snowe, Abraham Lincoln and her diarist, Olive Gilbert...."This moving portrait is a useful resource for black and women's studies." — Booklist.

Mohammed Ali ESPN Sport Century.  Streaming video from YouTube.  42 minutes.

The Nazi Olympics : African-American Athletes ( Part 1 and Part 2 ) :Eighteen Black athletes represented the United States in the 1936 Olympics -- triple the number who had competed for the United States in the 1932 Los Angeles Games. African-Americans dominated the popular track and field events, and in the end, Black athletes brought home 14 medals, nearly one-fourth of the 56 medals awarded the U.S. team in all events.  Many American journalists hailed the victories of Jesse Owens and other Blacks as a blow to the Nazi myth of Aryan supremacy. However, the continuing social and economic discrimination the Black medalists faced upon returning home underscored the irony of their victory in racist Germany.  In this video, athlete John Woodruff, professor David Wiggins, professor Clayborne Carson, and author Jeremy Schaap reflect on the history of black athletes in American sports and the relevance of their achievements at the 1936 Olympics.  YouTube.

Negro Pilots (Tuskegee Experiment) streaming video courtesy of Awesome Stories.

Negroe History Lost, Stolen, or Strayed via YouTubePart 1. 10:26, Part 2. 10:10, Part 3 9:48, Part 4 10:30, Part 5. 9:41

Race the Power of an Illusion (4:59) (YouTube).

Race the Power of an Illusion, Episode 2.  (5:31) (YouTube)

Race the Power of an Illusion, Episode 2. (6:11)  (YouTube)

Race the Power of an Illusion, Episode 3.  (55:55) (YouTube)

Race the Power of an Illusion - the online companion to the California Newsreel's three part documentary.

Radio Fights Jim Crow / American RadioWorks.  February 2001 : During the World-War-II years a series of groundbreaking radio programs tried to mend the deep racial and ethnic divisions that threatened America. Courtesy of Public Radio.

Racism in America : Small Town 1950s Case Study (YouTube)  Wikipedia entry

Rhythm & Blues Revue  (YouTube) 1955.  71 minutes : Musical variety show filmed at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York City, featuring a cast of popular African-American performers: Willie Bryant, Freddie Robinson, Lionel Hampton, Faye Adams, Bill Bailey, Herb Jeffries, Freddy & Flo, Amos Milburn, The Larks, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie, Joe Turner, Delta Rhythm Boys, Martha Davis, Little Buck, Nat King Cole, Mantan Moreland & Nipsy Russell, Cab Calloway, Ruth Brown, Paul Williams Band. Bill Bailey appears at 11:22. He was the first person to be recorded doing the Moonwalk (at 12:53), although he referred to it as the "Backslide", in the film Cabin In the Sky (1943)

Richard Pryor Egyptologist  (YouTube).  2:47.  Although a comedy sketch, it illustrated the belief that white European society tried to squelch any acknowledgement of African contributions to history.

Slave Ship Mutiny available as streaming video during 2013 courtesy of PBS.  From 1658 to 1838, the Dutch East India Company imported an estimated 63,000 slaves into the Cape colony and millions more to North and South America. Massavana was one of them. His struggle serves as a reminder of that era and his act of defiance encapsulated the indomitable human spirit that still resonates today. Slave Ship Mutiny tells the story of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and one of South Africa’s first freedom fighters: Massavana. With the help of detailed Dutch East India Company (VOC) archives and court transcripts, the film tracks the efforts of marine archaeologist Jaco Boshoff, historian Nigel Worden and slave descendent Lucy Campbell to discover the full story of this historic event as they learn what happened on the Meermin, how the slaves were able to overpower their captors, and why the ship ended up wrecked on a wild, windswept beach 200 miles east of Cape Town. Based on survivor accounts, Slave Ship Mutiny re-enacts these incredible events.

Slavery by Another Name available as streaming video during 2013 courtesy of PBS. "To most Americans, slavery ended with the Empancipation Proclamation. Slavery by Another Name gives voice to the largely forgotten victims and perpetrators of forced labor." This 90-minute documentary film tells us how even as chattel slavery came to an end in the South in 1865, thousands of African Americans were pulled back into forced labor with shocking force and brutality. It was a system in which men, often guilty of no crime at all, and coerced to do the bidding of masters. Tolerated by both the North and the South, forced labor lasted well into the 20th century.

Soul of the Game (1996)  Streaming video from YouTube.  94 minutes.  : A made-for-tv movie for HBO. It starred Blair Underwood as Jackie Robinson, Delroy Lindo as Satchel Paige and Mykelti Williamson as Josh Gibson. The film depicts Paige and Gibson as the pitching and hitting stars, respectively, of the Negro Leagues in the period immediately following World War II. Robinson is an up-and-coming player on Paige's team, the Kansas City Monarchs.

Stokely Carmichael At UC Berkeley - Black Power

They Integrated Duke / UNC-TV Black Issues Forum. In 1963, Duke University became one of the last major universities to would admit black students as undergraduates. Three of the first five to enter, Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke, Gene Kendall, and Nathaniel B. White, Jr. share their stories.  Broadcast : February 3, 2013.  27 minutes.

Voices of the Civil War courtesy of the Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.  The Voices of the Civil War is a five-year film series dedicated to celebrating and commemorating the Civil War over the course of the sesquicentennial. Each month, new episodes cover pertinent topics that follow the monthly events and issues as they unfolded for African Americans during the Civil War. Within these episodes there are various primary sources – letters and diaries, newspaper reports, and more - to recount various experiences of blacks during this period.

We Shall Overcome.  Mahalia Jackson sings "We Shall Overcome" during her European Tour of 1971.  She was in failing health when she gave this performance....About three years before she gave this performance, in Europe, Halie Jackson (as she was known by her family and friends) sang at the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  His death, and the death of Bobby Kennedy, which followed King's assassination by two months, devastated Jackson....Despite all the obstacles, the assassinations, the prejudices she (and other people of color) faced in America, Mahalia continued the struggle.  She believed, firmly, that "one day" her people would "overcome."  She believed the only way forward was to keep moving ahead:...When I sang "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" at Martin Luther King's funeral, my grief seemed almost too much to bear.  But when a reporter came to me after Dr. King and Senator Kennedy had been killed and said, "How do you carry on?" I said to him, "There can be no turning away.  There's a right to feel doubtful and despondent about things, but that is the time when you can't let your spirit and determination weaken.  We've got to remember these men lived for the good because it's needed so much now."  (Quoted by Robert Darden in People Get Ready!: A New History of Black Gospel Music, at page 220.) ...In this recorded performance, Mahalia Jackson moves away from the microphone before she actually finishes the song.  It is an incredibly moving moment from a woman who was once called "the most powerful black woman in America."

"We Shall Overcome" became the rally cry of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.  From singing the song at funerals of murdered civil-rights workers (such as James Chaney) to serving as the theme of a speech (by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), "we shall overcome" set the tone of the struggle for African-Americans - and all downtrodden people - to regain their civil rights. This clip, of Dr. King's 1965 sermon delivered at Temple Israel of Hollywood,  includes these words: We shall overcome.  We shall overcome.  Deep in my heart I do believe we shall overcome.  And I believe it because somehow the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.  We shall overcome because Carlisle is right; no lie can live forever.  We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant is right; truth crushed to earth will rise again.  We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell is right:

Truth forever on the scaffold,  Wrong forever on the throne.  Yet that scaffold sways the future, And behind the dim unknown  Stands God, within the shadow, Keeping watch above His own.

Temple Israel of Hollywood first made the long-forgotten recording of Dr. King's speech available to the public in 2007.  You can hear the entire sermon at NPR (National Public Radio).

"Whatever Happened to Idlewild?" a  documentary film by Coy Davis, Jr.  YouTube  49 minutes :   Idlewild, Michigan, was once a thriving community steeped in African American culture and entertainment. Once known as America's "Black Eden," Idlewild was an active year-round community from 1912 through the mid-1960s, and was visited by well-known entertainers and professionals from throughout the country. At its peak it was the most popular resort in the Midwest and as many as 25,000 would come to Idlewild in the height of the summer season to enjoy camping, swimming, boating, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, roller skating, and night-time entertainment.

Why Do the Kochs Want To Reintroduce Segregation?  This video from Brave New Foundation  connects the dots and reveals how the Koch brothers fight against public education in every possible way....Their efforts began in North Carolina where they funded an effort to resegregate schools in an award winning school district. Using the same language as Gov. George Wallace in the 60s, Koch-supported school board members attempted to make “segregation always” a policy for tens of thousands of families....While David and Charles Koch drink down the high life, they are causing tens of thousands of families in North Carolina to lose their opportunity at enjoying educational equality and a free and fair shot at success. It’s part and parcel of the Kochs’ ideology to dismantle public service generally.

Wildcat at Mead (YouTube) : Wildcat at Mead documents an overlooked moment of history: a militant, unauthorized strike at a cardboard plant on the west side of Atlanta. The movie was produced by and features cadre of the October League (OL), a marxist-leninist organization who counted among its membership several plant workers who came to be important leaders in the strike.   More commentary.

Wilmington 10: Pardon of Innocence / UNC-TV Black Issues Forum. February 6, 1971, a small grocery store in Wilmington, NC was burned down, and 10 student civil rights protestors, including former NAACP director Dr. Ben Chavis, were falsely accused, unjustly tried and convicted, and incarcerated. Known as the Wilmington 10, their names were finally cleared after a 42 year fight. Dr. Chavis and attorney for the group Irving Joyner share their story.   Broadcast: February 10, 2013.  27 minutes.

Wings for this Man / Awesome Stories.  Sreaming video.  9 minutes 40 seconds : In an effort to get the American public used to African-American pilots flying U.S. military planes, the U.S. government had this film created.  It is narrated by Ronald Reagan and was released in 1945. ... At the time, Reagan was a captain in the U.S. Army Air Force and was working for the military's First Motion Picture Unit (FMPU) - officially designated as the 18th Army Air Force Unit - in Culver City, California....Reagan narrated (and starred in) several FMPU's productions.  He was one of the unit's original officers - starting as a 2nd Lt. - and also served as its personnel officer.


African American women writers have helped bring the black woman's experience to life for millions of readers. They've written of what it was like to live in slavery, what Jim Crow America was like, and what 20th and 21st century America has been like for black women. On the following paragraphs, you'll meet novelists, poets, journalists, playwrights, essayists, social commentators, and feminist theorists. They're listed from the earliest to the latest.

African American Women Writers of the 19th Century.  A digital collection of some 52 published works by 19th-century black women writers. A part of the Digital Schomburg, this collection provides access to the thought, perspectives and creative abilities of black women as captured in books and pamphlets published prior to 1920.

Antislavery Literary Project. Antislavery literature represents the origins of multicultural literature in the United States. It is the first body of American literature produced by writers of diverse racial origins. It encompasses slave narratives, lectures, travel accounts, political tracts, prose fiction, poetry, drama, religious and philosophical literature, compendia, journals, manifestoes and children's literature. There is a complex and contradictory range of voices, from journalistic reportage to sentimental poetry, from racial paternalism and stereotyping to advocacy of interracial equality, from religious disputation to militant antislavery calls. In its whole, this literature is inseparable from an understanding of democratic development in US society.  The goal of the Antislavery Literature Project is to increase public access to a body of literature crucial to understanding African American experience, US and hemispheric histories of slavery, and early human rights philosophies. These multilingual collections contribute to an educational consciousness of the role of many antislavery writers in creating contemporary concepts of freedom.

Black American Feminisms : An Annotated Bibliography.  "The multidisciplinary subject bibliography of black American feminist writings that follows is an effort to combat the erasure of black feminist subjectivity and thought through the promotion and use of the literature for the general public, students, scholars and life-long learners seeking information on African American feminism and African American feminist interpretations of a broad range of issues. The bibliography documents and validates an intellectual tradition that is continuously ghettoized within black studies, women's studies and society as a whole. Moreover, the bibliography serves to ensure a place for black American feminist thought in the social change discourse, ensuring that black women's contributions in art, politics and society are preserved and perpetuated."

A Celebration of Women Writers : African American Writers.  The Celebration of Women Writers recognizes the contributions of women writers throughout history. Women have written almost every imaginable type of work: novels, poems, letters, biographies, travel books, religious commentaries, histories, economic and scientific works. Our goal is to promote awareness of the breadth and variety of women's writing. All too often, works by women, and resources about women writers, are hard to find. We attempt to provide easy access to available on-line information. The Celebration provides a comprehensive listing of links to biographical and bibliographical information about women writers, and complete published books written by women. A compilation of web sites compiled by the University of Pennsylvania Libraries.

Phillis Wheatley's Poems.  The poems of Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) are read and studied by students and scholars in a variety of disciplines (American literature, African-American Studies, African Studies, and Women’s Studies), but the first edition has not previously been freely accessible in a digital facsimile without a fee or subscription. Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (London, 1773) is the first book published by an African-American author, and the frontispiece portrait of Wheatley is the only surviving work by the African-American slave artist Scipio Moorhead (born ca. 1750).

The Poetry of Maya Angelou.  Maya Angelou was an author, actor, dancer, poet, producer, director, playwright, professor, and civil rights activist considered one of the most influential voices of her time. She is widely known for her autobiographical works and poetry. Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was nominated for the National Book Award in 1969 and Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ’fore I Diiie, published in 1971, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Angelou read her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Clinton’s inauguration ceremony and in 2010, President Barack Obama awarded Angelou the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States. This primary source set includes photographs, illustrations, correspondence, interviews, and a sound recording that provides context for thematic elements in the poetry of Maya Angelou as well as her life.  Courtesy of Susan Ketcham, Digital Public Library of America.

A Raisin in the Sun.   Lorraine Hansberry’s groundbreaking play, A Raisin in the Sun (1959), tells the story of the Youngers, three generations of an African American family living together in a small apartment on Chicago’s South Side. Set in the postwar era, the play follows the family’s struggles with poverty and their decision to move to a single-family home in the all-white neighborhood of Clybourne Park. It explores themes of discrimination, assimilation, black pride, gender, and sacrifice; its title is a reference to the Langston Hughes poem, “Harlem” (“A Dream Deferred”).

Their Eyes Were Watching God.   Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) is the coming-of-age story of Janie Crawford, an African American woman growing up in Eatonville, Florida—one of the first incorporated African American towns in the United States.

Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture. This website from the University of Virginia presents a vast multimedia archive of primary material, 1830 to 1930, organized around Harriet Beecher Stowe's seminal work. Educators should preview the material, particularly the various representations of race and slavery in the archive, to determine what is appropriate for use in their own classroom discussion.

VG/Voices from the Gaps.  A website based in the English Department at the University of Minnesota and dedicated to bringing together marginalized resources and knowledges about women artists of color to serve secondary and college education across the world.  This link highlights African-American women.  For additional categories, click here.

Short Videos

Left of Black Series

The Left of Black series features weekly interviews with news makers and authorities related to the African American experience in the United States.  The show is taped on Tuesday afternoons and broadcast the following Monday at 1:30 via  UStream . The shows are then archived on Tumblr.  Also check Twitter and Facebook.   

NewBlackman (In Exile) : the digital home of Mark Anthony Neal.

Left of Black via YouTube.

American Black Journal

American Black Journal : Documenting Detroit and American History from African-American Perspectives.  American Black Journal, originally titled Colored People's Time, went on the air in 1968 as a televised public forum for black Americans during a historic moment of racial turmoil across the nation. During its thirty-six-year run, the show (under different titles and formats) has documented Detroit and American history from African-American perspectives. The show represents a unique national treasury, possessing one of the most extensive audio-visual records of local African-American history and culture in existence, recorded in the city with the third largest black population in the United States. While many extant collections are limited to the contributions of African-Americans in specific areas such as civil rights or music, ABJ explores the entire spectrum. The collection includes interviews, round table discussions, field-produced features, and artistic performances by African-Americans, many from among the nation's most-recognized African-American experiences. The collection also contains in-studio interviews and on-location footage that examine such issues and events as work in the automobile industry, nationwide urban civil disturbances in 1967 (including those in Detroit), the development of strong African-American political leaders, the explosion of Motown music and the emergence of rap, the rise of mainstream business leaders, and the enduring importance of religion within African-American culture. In its thirty-six years of programming, the ABJ has highlighted leading figures in the worlds of sports, economics, academics, international relations, the law, and religion. The show's first-person approach is particularly valuable for public presentations of history, while the ABJ materials provide faces and voices to the key aspects of African-American culture and history over the last third of the century.  A treasure trove of primary source material on film. 

History Detectives

Many episodes of History Detectives relate to events in the history of African Americans.   Here are a few:

History Detectives : Episode: Civil War Letters, Aviation Fabric & Negro Romance Comic.  This episode fills in the moving story behind letters from a Civil War soldier to his brother and his desire to lead an African American unit. Then, Tukufu Zuberi sets out to identify the source of a piece of fabric with signatures of Charles Lindbergh and helicopter inventor Igor Sikorsky. Finally, did black artists create the 1950's comic book, Negro Romance?   Includes information about African Americans fighting in Arkansas during the Civil War, an update about an African American face pot discovered in Philadelphia, and the Negro Romance comic book series.

History Detectives : John Brown Spear, US Bullet in Siberia & Ronald McDonald Suit.  In this episode, Wes Cowan looks into whether this weapon was part of abolitionist John Brown's notorious Harpers Ferry raid. Then, words etched into a bullet lead Eduardo Pagan to ask why US troops spent time in Siberia during World War I. Finally, Elyse Luray falls in love with a Ronald McDonald costume, complete with clown shoes. Was it the first costume of the Ronald McDonald campaign?

History Detectives  : Season 8, Episode 9.  Jackie Robinson All-Stars: Does a Jackie Robinson All-Stars scorecard signal early steps toward integration of MLB? Modoc Basket: How does a basket connect us to a woman congress honored as a heroine of the Indian Wars of the West? Special Agent Five: Why did J. Edgar Hoover endorse a radio script based on an FBI case?

History Detectives  : Season 8, Episode 10.  The second vignette explores the history behind a slave manumission document dating from the time that colonial Spanish New Orleans assisted in aiding the American Revolution by attacking British forces (1779).  In return for his services in the Spanish artillery that helped force the British surrender of Baton Rouge, Natchez, Mobile, and Pensacola, the Spanish Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Spanish New Orleans (whose name was given to Galveston, Texas), helps the soldier buy the freedom of an African slave, who becomes his common-law-life and mother of the his family.

PBS Black Culture Connection

PBS Black Culture Connection is your resource and guide to films, stories and voices across public television centered around Black history & culture. Explore. Watch. Connect!  Explore the Shows and Films tab to identify what is available.   Many of the listings indicate that streaming video is a a click away.