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Black History

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Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. From Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad to the Montgomery Bus Boycott to Selma to Montgomery March to the Black Lives Matter movement, Black leaders, artists and writers have helped shaped the character and identity of a nation.

Black History Videos

Black History Stories

Nat 'Sweetwater' Clifton, the first Black player to sign an NBA contract

9 Black Athletes Who Integrated Professional Sports

After Jackie Robinson started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, ending a six-decade ban on Black players in Major League Baseball, opportunities slowly began to expand for athletes of color. Robinson’s historic achievement—a formative moment of the postwar ...read more

How an Enslaved Man Helped Jack Daniel Develop His Famous Whiskey

How an Enslaved Man Helped Jack Daniel Develop His Famous Whiskey

Jack Daniel’s stands as one of the most iconic American brands and most popular spirits in the world. Yet while the whiskey and its eponymous founder have become dominant names in American liquor lore, the person perhaps most responsible for its success—an enslaved man named ...read more

Teddy Roosevelt and the Battle of San Juan Hill, Spanish American War

The Buffalo Soldiers at San Juan Hill: What Really Happened?

It remains one of the most mythologized images of the Spanish-American war: Theodore Roosevelt charging on horseback, leading his Rough Rider volunteers up Cuba’s San Juan Hill through the smoke and chaos of battle to claim a decisive victory. Carefully crafted by Roosevelt ...read more

Stephanie St. Clair Hamid, the "Numbers Queen"of Harlem, being held on charges of attempted assault.

This Woman Built a Formidable Gambling Empire in 1920s Harlem

Madame Stephanie St. Clair was a Harlem entrepreneur with a head for numbers and a skill for minting cash—even during the Great Depression. But like most African Americans in the early 20th century, she found herself barred from traditional, white-dominated financial businesses ...read more

Moses Fleetwood Walker, Six Decades Before Jackie Robinson, This Man Integrated Major League Baseball

6 Decades Before Jackie Robinson, This Man Broke Baseball's Color Barrier

Sixty-three years before Jackie Robinson became the first African American in the modern era to play in a Major League Baseball game, Moses Fleetwood Walker debuted in the league on May 1, 1884, with the Toledo Blue Stockings in a 5-1 loss against the Louisville Eclipse. Walker, ...read more

Jackie Robinson: His Life and Career in Pictures

Jackie Robinson: His Life and Career in Pictures

When Jackie Robinson started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, he not only integrated Major League Baseball. He was signaling to the nation—on one of its biggest stages—that Black Americans would no longer accept second-class status.  “Jackie Robinson ...read more

How Famous Amos Built—And Lost—His Cookie Empire

Famous Amos: The Rise and Fall of a Cookie Empire

When Wally Amos founded Famous Amos cookies in 1975, the brand became one of the most unlikely success stories in food history. And the rise and fall of Wally Amos became one of its most infamous cautionary tales. Here’s how a man who broke the color barrier in the talent ...read more

A statue of Queen Amanirenas.

The Nubian Queen Who Fought Back Caesar's Army

From 25 to 21 B.C. Amanirenas, a queen or Kandake of the Kingdom of Kush, managed to do what many male leaders in her time could not: push back a Roman invasion. Under Queen Amanirenas’ command, some 30,000 soldiers of the ancient Kingdom of Kush (located in modern-day Sudan) ...read more

Madam C.J. Walker

How Madam C.J. Walker Became a Self-Made Millionaire

As the end of Reconstruction ushered in a volatile period in which former Confederate states instituted laws that severely restricted the upward mobility of African Americans, life for Black people largely remained just as harsh as it was during slavery. Black residents along the ...read more

Walter White, the Executive Secretary of the NAACP, gives his views on the "Anti-Lynching Bill" before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee.

How NAACP's Walter White Risked His Life to Investigate Lynchings

For Walter White, growing up Black and being able to “pass” as white empowered him to take on two identities that aided his work with the NAACP exposing racial injustice in the United States. White was born blonde-haired and blue-eyed in 1893 in Atlanta, Georgia, to a family ...read more

Thomas Morris Chester (1813-1903)

The First Black War Correspondent Reported from the Civil War's Front Lines

During the Civil War, hundreds of reporters from Union and Confederate newspapers published stories from battles on land and sea. Only one of those reporters was a Black man: Thomas Morris Chester, the nation’s first African American war correspondent. The invention of the ...read more

African Female Warriors Who Led Empires and Armies

Female Warriors Who Led African Empires and Armies

Long before—and during— the European colonization of Africa, ancient kingdoms and empires thrived for centuries on the continent. Some were headed by women, including female warriors who led armies against invading European powers to defend their people from conquest and ...read more

Leg irons once used on enslaved people on display at the Kura Hulanda Museum on the Caribbean island of Curaçao.

How the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Created the African Diaspora

The trans-Atlantic slave trade was the capture, forcible transport and sale of native Africans to Europeans for lifelong bondage in the Americas. Lasting from the 16th to 19th centuries, it is responsible, more than any other project or phenomenon in the history of the modern ...read more

Alice Coachman performing the high jump at the 1939 National Women's Track and Field meet.

The First African Americans to Win Olympic Medals

Since the first Olympic Games debuted in Athens, Greece in 1896, the gathering of the world’s dominant athletes has become a global event. But with historic discrimination and fewer opportunities for elite training, Black athletes faced immense challenges to compete. Nonetheless, ...read more

martin luther king jr, civil rights, civil rights leader, black history, president lyndon johnson, dr. king, 1964, civil rights act

8 Key Laws That Advanced Civil Rights

The "peculiar institution” of slavery was abolished nearly a hundred years after the Declaration of Independence called for freedom and equality for all in 1776. But it took another century before landmark legislation would begin to address basic civil rights for African ...read more

Author Zora Neale Hurston (1903-1960). (Credit: Corbis/Getty Images)

7 Writers of the Harlem Renaissance

In the early 20th century, millions of African Americans migrated from the rural South to the urban North to seek economic opportunity and escape widespread racial prejudice, segregation and violence. Many of them settled in the New York City neighborhood of Harlem, which became ...read more

Martin Luther King Giving "Dream" SpeechMartin Luther King Jr., gives his "I Have a Dream" speech to a crowd before the Lincoln Memorial during the Freedom March in Washington, DC, on August 28, 1963. The widely quoted speech became one of his most famous.

Quotes from 7 of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Most Notable Speeches

Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most influential figures of the American civil rights movement—and a gifted orator. His stirring speeches touched on everything from social and racial justice, to nonviolence, poverty, the Vietnam War and dismantling white supremacy. And ...read more

African American MigrantsPhotograph of African American men, women, and children who participated in the Great Migration to the north, with suitcases and luggage placed in front, Chicago, 1918. (Photo by Chicago History Museum/Getty Images)

How Southern Landowners Tried to Restrict the Great Migration

When more than six million African Americans left the South for better opportunities in the North and West, between 1916 and 1970, their relocation changed the demographic landscape of the United States and much of the agricultural labor force in the South. This decades-long, ...read more

Teammates show Bobby Grier, (C), what they think of Georgia Governor Marvin Griffin's threat to block Georgia Tech from playing in the Sugar Bowl on January 2nd, if the University of Pittsburgh's Negro player is part of the Panther team. Gathered around Grier from the left are: Bob Kiesel, end; Nick Carr, Guard; Jim McCuskar, tackle and Don Agafon, tackle. Two thousand Georgia Tech students staged a protest demonstration in which they twice burned the Governor in effigy. The case was scheduled to go before the Georgia State Board of Regents.

How Bobby Grier Integrated One of College Football's Biggest Games

The day after a Black woman refused to yield her bus seat in Montgomery, Alabama, America’s latest battle over civil rights garnered front-page headlines. The news stories capturing the country’s attention in early December 1955 did not concern Rosa Parks, however, but University ...read more

Lee Elder becomes first Black golfer to play in Masters

On April 10, 1975, 41-year-old Lee Elder becomes the first Black golfer to play in the Masters, considered the most prestigious event in the sport. Elder shoots 37 on the front and back nine for a 74 at the Augusta (Georgia) National Golf Club and trails leader Bobby Nichols by ...read more

Malcolm X , 1965.

The Assassination of Malcolm X

Civil rights leader Malcolm X took the stage at the Audubon Ballroom in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan on February 21, 1965. Just minutes later, shortly after 3 p.m., the former prominent Nation of Islam figure was gunned down by three men as his wife, Betty ...read more

homesteadgrays

The Black Trailblazer Who's the Only Person in Baseball, Basketball Halls of Fame

Cumberland Posey, the only person in the Baseball and Basketball Halls of Fame, was not only an excellent athlete. He also was one of the shrewdest businessmen and talent evaluators in the Negro Leagues, a fierce advocate for Black baseball and a sports pioneer. Early in the 20th ...read more

An African American soldier in uniform with his wife and two daughters, circa 1864. This image was found in Cecil County, Maryland, making it likely that this soldier belonged to one of the seven U.S.C.T. regiments raised in Maryland.

How Black Women Fought for Civil War Pensions and Benefits

Over two million soldiers enlisted in the Union Army during the U.S. Civil War. When it ended, the United States had many more veterans and surviving dependents than it had ever had before. In the decades that followed, military pensions became a major part of the federal budget, ...read more

Buck Leonard of the Homestead Grays dashes to first during a 1940 Negro League game against the New York Black Yankees.

9 Baseball Stars From the Negro Leagues Who Dominated the Game

Until Jackie Robinson broke the Major League Baseball color line in 1947, Black Americans' professional baseball opportunities were limited primarily to the Negro Leagues. These leagues showcased impressive talent, from power hitters Buck Leonard and Josh Gibson to pitchers ...read more

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How Interstate Highways Gutted Communities—and Reinforced Segregation

When Congress approved the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, it authorized what was then the largest public works program in U.S. history. The law promised to construct 41,000 miles of an ambitious interstate highway system that would criss-cross the nation, dramatically ...read more

HISTORY: Dunmore's Proclamation

Dunmore's Proclamation

On November 7, 1775, John Murray, fourth Earl of Dunmore and governor of the British colony of Virginia, wrote the document known as Dunmore’s Proclamation. It promised freedom to any indentured servants, enslaved African Americans, or others held in bondage by American ...read more

First page of the newspaper Le Petit Journal Sunday 7 October 1906 in illustration "Lynching" Massacre in the United States of African Americans in Atlanta (Georgia).

The 1906 Atlanta Race Massacre: How Fearmongering Led to Violence

In the center of downtown Atlanta, a handful of streets intersect, forming what locals know as Five Points. Today, a park, a university, high-rise buildings and throngs of motorists and pedestrians make this a bustling area, belying its history of bloodshed. In 1906, Five Points ...read more

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How the Only Woman in Baseball Hall of Fame Challenged Convention—and MLB

Effa Manley, the only woman in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, was an advocate for Black athletes, a passionate supporter of baseball in the Negro leagues, a champion for civil rights and equality…and far ahead of her time. In an era when few women were involved in sports ...read more

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SNCC

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was founded in 1960 in the wake of student-led sit-ins at segregated lunch counters across the South and became the major channel of student participation in the civil rights movement. Members of SNCC included prominent future ...read more

South Africa captain Francois Pienaar receives the William Webb Ellis Trophy from President Nelson Mandela after the home team defeated arch rival New Zealand in the 1995 Rugby Union World Cup in Johannesburg.

How Nelson Mandela Used Rugby as a Symbol of South African Unity

On June 24, 1995 at Johannesburg's Ellis Park Stadium, South Africa won the Rugby World Cup 15-12 over its arch rival New Zealand. The match stands as a hugely symbolic moment in South African history. It marked the nation’s first major sporting event since the end of its ...read more

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Why the FBI Saw Martin Luther King Jr. as a Communist Threat

In early 1962, Attorney General Robert Kennedy approved a request from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to install wiretaps on the home and office of a New York City-based lawyer named Stanley David Levison. According to FBI informants, Levison had been an influential member of the ...read more

Newark, New Jersey, July 14, 1967: Negroes jeer at bayonet-wielding National Guardsmen here July 14th. The National Guard and New Jersey state police were called out July 14th to aid Newark police, following the second night of disorder in this, New Jersey's largest city.

The 1967 Riots: When Outrage Over Racial Injustice Boiled Over

During the summer of 1967, 158 riots erupted in urban communities across America. Most shared the same triggering event: a dispute between Black citizens and white police officers that escalated to violence. During those convulsive months, the massive social unrest—alternately ...read more

How Mixed-Race Children in Post-WWII Germany Were Deemed a ‘Social Problem’

Why Mixed-Race Children in Post-WWII Germany Were Deemed a ‘Social Problem’

After Allied Forces defeated Germany in World War II, the United States began its occupation of West Germany from 1945 to 1955. Although American soldiers were tasked with promoting democracy to a country ravaged by fascism, Jim Crow prevailed in the U.S. military and Black GIs ...read more

Tulsa Race Riots

'Black Wall Street' Before, During and After the Tulsa Race Massacre: PHOTOS

At the turn of the 20th century, African Americans founded and developed the Greenwood district in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Built on what had formerly been Indian Territory, the community grew and flourished as a Black economic and cultural mecca—until May 31, 1921.  That's when a white ...read more

Cicada Swarms Were Documented in the 18th Century by a Black Naturalist, Benjamin Banneker

Cicada Swarms Were Documented by a Black Naturalist in the 18th Century

In the spring of 1749, the billions-strong swarm of cicadas known today as Brood X emerged from the ground in rural Maryland, much to the fascination (and horror) of a 17-year-old Black tobacco farmer named Benjamin Banneker, who believed they were a plague of locusts. “The ...read more

The Unsung Black Scientists of the Manhattan Project

The Unsung African American Scientists of the Manhattan Project

During the height of World War II between 1942 and 1945, the U.S. government’s top-secret program to build an atomic bomb, code-named the Manhattan Project, cumulatively employed some 600,000 people, including scientists, technicians, janitors, engineers, chemists, maids and day ...read more

Customers stand outside Berry's Service Station in Tulsa.

9 Entrepreneurs Who Helped Build Tulsa's 'Black Wall Street'

As more is learned about the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, including the discovery of mass graves, the stories of the African Americans who turned the city’s Greenwood district into “Black Wall Street” are equally as revealing. Before a white mob decimated 35 blocks of a thriving ...read more

History Shorts: The Story Behind Kwanzaa

History Shorts: The Story Behind Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa didn't just appear spontaneously—it was specifically designed to heal a struggling community.

Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921: The Aerial Assault

What Role Did Airplanes Play in the Tulsa Race Massacre?

What role did airplanes play in the deadly Tulsa race massacre of 1921? Just after Memorial Day that year, a white mob destroyed 35 city blocks of the Greenwood District, a community in Tulsa, Oklahoma known as the “Black Wall Street.” Prompted by an allegation that a Black man ...read more

How Laws First Passed in Jim Crow Era Suppressed the African American Vote

How Jim Crow-Era Laws Suppressed the African American Vote for Generations

Following the ratification in 1870 of the 15th Amendment, which barred states from depriving citizens the right to vote based on race, southern states began enacting measures such as poll taxes, literacy tests, all-white primaries, felony disenfranchisement laws, grandfather ...read more

History Shorts: Who Built the White House?

History Shorts: Who Built the White House?

The White House is one of the great patriotic symbols of America, but its construction history gets into the darkest parts of the nation's past.

Frederick Patterson standing beside a bare Patterson-Greenfield automobile chassis, probably for a larger touring car body.

One of the Earliest US Car Companies Was Founded by a Formerly Enslaved Man

C.R. Patterson & Sons, the first African American-owned auto manufacturer, didn’t produce many of its hand-built cars—by some estimates, only a few dozen between 1915 and 1918. The company’s signature Patterson-Greenfield car, advertised as a “sensibly priced” roadster with ...read more

Josephine Baker's Double Life as a World War II Spy

Josephine Baker's Daring Double Life as a World War II Spy

As war drums reverberated across Europe in 1939, the head of France’s military intelligence service recruited an unlikely spy: France’s most famous woman—Josephine Baker. Jacques Abtey had spent the early days of World War II recruiting spies to collect information on Nazi ...read more

How Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit’ Confronted an Ugly Era of Lynchings

How Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit’ Confronted an Ugly Era of Lynchings

The haunting lyrics of “Strange Fruit” paint a picture of a rural American South where political and psychological terror reigns over African American communities. “Black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze,” blues legend Billie Holiday sang in her powerful 1939 recording of ...read more

Why Frederick Douglass Passionately Recruited Black Soldiers During Civil War

Why Frederick Douglass Wanted Black Men to Fight in the Civil War

During the Civil War, Frederick Douglass used his stature as the most prominent African American social reformer, orator, writer and abolitionist to recruit men of his race to volunteer for the Union army. In his “Men of Color to Arms! Now or Never!” broadside, Douglass called on ...read more

This Day In History: The Niagara Movement meets for the first time, July 11, 1905

Niagara Movement

In 1905, a group of prominent Black intellectuals led by W.E.B. Du Bois met in Erie, Ontario, near Niagara Falls, to form an organization calling for civil and political rights for African Americans. With its comparatively aggressive approach to combating racial discrimination ...read more

During her 1972 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American congresswoman, promises to tell the truth about sex and race.

Black History: Timeline of the Post-Civil Rights Era

From the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., to the 2008 election of Barack Obama, to widespread global protests declaring Black Lives Matter in 2020, African American history in the United States has been filled with both triumph and strife. Here's a look at some of ...read more

America’s First Black Regiment Fought for the Nation’s Freedom—As Well as Their Own

America’s First Black Regiment Gained Their Freedom by Fighting Against the British

The 1st Rhode Island Regiment, widely regarded as the first Black battalion in U.S. military history, originated, in part, from George Washington’s desperation. In late 1777 during the American Revolution, the Continental Army, led by General Washington, faced severe troop ...read more

Reconstruction: A Timeline of America's First Attempt at Tackling Slavery's Legacy. Freedman's Bureau

Reconstruction: A Timeline of the Post-Civil War Era

Between 1863 and 1877, the U.S. government undertook the task of integrating nearly four million formerly enslaved people into society after the Civil War bitterly divided the country over the issue of slavery. A white slaveholding south that had built its economy and culture on ...read more

Black Women Who Have Run For President, Carol Moseley Braun

Black Women Who Have Run for President

When Kamala Harris entered the 2020 U.S. presidential race, she chose campaign materials with a sleek typeface and red-and-yellow color scheme that mirrored those of the late politician Shirley Chisholm, who made history in 1972 after becoming the first Black woman to compete for ...read more