Publications

From No Return: The 221-Year Journey of the Slave Ship São José

Author(s):  Lonnie Bunch, Paul Gardullo, Stephen C. Lubkemann, Jaco Jacqes Boshoff
Year:  2016

A book both factual and personal, From No Return: The 221-Year Journey of the Slave Ship São José recounts a portion of African American history as it is being made. Here is the story of the recovery in 2014 of artifacts from the São José, the first known slave ship to be recovered that sank with its human cargo aboard. Finding such a singular lens through which to view the unfathomable scope of the Middle Passage had become a quest for National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) founding director Lonnie Bunch. From No Return chronicles the efforts of NMAAHC and its collaborators to locate the ship and unearth its ungodly objects, including some of the 1,130 iron bars the São José crew used to balance the weight of the ship’s human cargo. The book contains full-page images of these artifacts along with reproductions of the ship’s manifest, the captain’s deposition after the ship capsized in December 1794 off the coast of South Africa, and other archival documents.

Bunch is one of four authors. The others are NMAAHC curator Paul Gardullo and the co-founders of the Slave Wrecks Project, Stephen C. Lubkemann and Jaco Jacqes Boshoff, who repeatedly dived the site. The “journey” that’s referenced in the book’s subtitle is threefold: the recovery of the artifacts; the symbolic return in 2015, by Bunch and the other authors, of those who had perished to their Mozambique homeland; and the personal journeys of the authors themselves as they unspooled this story from the turbulent waters off Cape Town. Each of them bore witness to a moment of discovery that will soon be part of history.

Hardcover; 124 pp., 10.25" x 9.25"; illustrated.

Dream a World Anew: The African American Experience and the Shaping of America

Dream a World Anew

Editor(s):  Kinshasha Holman Conwill
Year:  2016

This stunning gift book accompanies the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. It combines informative narratives from leading scholars, curators, and authors with objects from the museum's collection to present a thorough exploration of African American history and culture. Abundant photographs, sidebars, quotations, poems, and profiles of trailblazers and visionaries round out this rich and engrossing narrative. Dream a World Anew offers the opportunity to explore and revel in African American history and culture, as well as the chance to see how central African American history is for all Americans.

Begin with the Past: Building the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Begin with the Past

Author(s):  Mabel O. Wilson
Year:  2016

This book explores how this unparalleled museum found its place in the nation’s collective memory and on its public commons. Mabel O. Wilson explores how the "four pillars" of the museum's mission shaped its powerful structure, and she teases out the rich cultural symbols and homages layered into the design of the building and its surrounding landscape. This is an important inside look at the making of a monument.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture: A Souvenir Book

Author(s):  National Museum of African American History and Culture
Year:  2016

This beautifully illustrated keepsake showcases the extraordinary treasures of the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s collections. Together the objects illustrate the rich complexity of the African American experience. Numerous objects are accompanied by captions explaining their significance and role in our nation’s history. This book, like the museum it represents, uses artifacts of African American history and culture as a lens into what it means to be an American.

Vol. IV - Picturing Children

Editor(s):  Laura Coyle and Michèle Gates Moresi
Author(s):  Marian Wright Edelman and Ivory A. Toldson
Year:  2016

Picturing Children features a diverse selection of photographs, including spontaneous records of intimate family moments, playtime, communal activities, and portraits. The images speak not only to the past, but also to our evolving concepts of childhood and the engagement of youth in our society.

Essays include: Foreword by Lonnie Bunch; Our Turn by Marian Wright Edelman; and Picture This by Ivory A. Toldson.

Cover, New Orleans Brass Bands: Through the Streets of the City

New Orleans Brass Bands: Through the Streets of the City

Year:  2015

For more than a century, the signature sound of New Orleans has been the brass band — at once a source of celebration, collective expression, and community pride. On February 10, 2015, Smithsonian Folkways released the newly-recorded collection New Orleans Brass Bands: Through the Streets of the City, bringing together for the first time in one recording three musical generations that represent three dominant styles of brass bands. Featured are the classic sound of the Liberty Brass Band, the modern-yet-traditional Treme Brass Band, and the funk, rap, and “bounce” influenced Hot 8 Brass Band.

Cover, Songs My Mother Taught Me

Songs My Mother Taught Me

Author(s):  Fannie Lou Hamer
Year:  2015

A re-release of limited-edition 1963 field recordings, breathes new life into Fannie Lou Hamer’s inspiring legacy and her uncompromising call for a righteous world.

Vol. III - African American Women

Editor(s):  Laura Coyle and Michèle Gates Moresi
Author(s):  Kinshasha Holman Conwill and Natasha Trethewey
Year:  2015

African American Women celebrates portraits and candid photographs of African American women including celebrities, activists, and historic figures who deserve to be better known. This issue portrays the dignity, joy, heartbreak, resilience, commitment, and sacrifice of women of all ages and backgrounds. 

Essays Include: Foreword, by Lonnie Bunch; Picturing Grace, by Kinshasha Holman Conwill; and Ars Poetica, by Natasha Trethewey

Vol. II - Civil Rights and the Promise of Equality

Editor(s):  Laura Coyle and Michèle Gates Moresi
Author(s):  John Lewis and Bryan Stevenson
Year:  2015

Civil Rights and the Promise of Equality features iconic, as well as moving but less well-known, photographs of pivotal Civil Rights events with work by Spider Martin, Charles Moore, and Ernest Withers among other noteworthy and newly discovered photographers. 

Essays include: Foreword, by Lonnie Bunch; Portrait of a Revolution, by Congressman John Lewis; and Reflections for a New Generation, by Bryan Stevenson.

Vol. I - Through the African American Lens

Editor(s):  Laura Coyle and Michèle Gates Moresi
Author(s):  Rhea L. Combs and Deborah Willis
Year:  2015

Through the African American Lens provides an overview of the photography collection supporting the Earl W. and Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Arts and encompasses the Museum’s overarching thematic selections – History, Community, and Culture.

Essays include: Foreword by Lonnie Bunch; Self-Representation and Hope: The Power of the Picture by Rhea L. Combs; and America’s Lens, by Deborah Willis.

A Life of Song

Author(s):  Ella Jenkins
Year:  2011

In A Life of Song, Ella Jenkins, “The First Lady of Children’s Music,” offers stories and songs that speak to her youthful years as an African American child in a multi-cultural world. Her career of more than a half century earned her the first Lifetime Achievement Grammy award for a children’s music artist, and her more than thirty recordings teach us to learn from one another while taking pride in our own heritage. This African American Legacy recording of Ella singing with children from the Cool Classics after-school program spotlights her own heritage while showing her delight for the traditions of others. 36 minutes, lyrics, photos, 28-page booklet.

Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: The Apollo Theater and American Entertainment

Editor(s):  Richard Carlin, Kinshasha Holman Conwill
Year:  2010

Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment celebrates the seventy-five year history of the Apollo Theater, Harlem's landmark performing arts space and the iconic showplace for the best in jazz, blues, dance, comedy, gospel, R & B, hip-hop, and more since it opened its doors in 1934. This beautifully illustrated book is the companion volume to an exhibition of the same name, organized by the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture in collaboration with the Apollo Theater Foundation. It offers a sweeping panorama of American cultural achievement from the Harlem Renaissance to the present through the compelling story of a single institution.

Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing brings together a diverse group of twenty-four writers to discuss the theater's history and its intersection with larger social and political issues within Harlem and the nation. Featuring more than 300 photographs, this volume brings to life the groundbreaking entertainers in music, dance, and comedy—Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin, The Supremes, James Brown, Moms Mabley, Redd Foxx, Honi Coles, and Savion Glover, to name a few—who made the Apollo the icon that it is today. The Apollo Theater has been the setting for soaring achievement and creativity in the face of enormous challenges. In telling this truly American story, Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing is a celebration of the lasting contributions of African Americans to the nation's cultural life.

Cover, For All the World to See

For All the World to See

Author(s):  Maurice Berger
Year:  2010

In 1955, shortly after Emmett Till was murdered by white supremacists in Mississippi, his grieving mother distributed to the press a gruesome photograph of his mutilated corpse. Asked why she would do this, she explained that by witnessing with their own eyes the brutality of segregation and racism, Americans would be more likely to support the cause of racial justice. “Let the world see what I’ve seen,” was her reply. The publication of the photograph inspired a generation of activists to join the civil rights movement.

Despite this extraordinary episode, the story of visual culture’s role in the modern civil rights movement is rarely included in its history. This is the first comprehensive examination of the ways images mattered in the struggle, and it investigates a broad range of media including photography, television, film, magazines, newspapers, and advertising.

These images were ever present and diverse: the startling footage of southern white aggression and black suffering that appeared night after night on television news programs; the photographs of black achievers and martyrs in Negro periodicals; the humble snapshot, no less powerful in its ability to edify and motivate. In each case, the war against racism was waged through pictures—millions of points of light, millions of potent weapons that forever changed a nation. Through vivid storytelling and incisive analysis, this powerful book allows us to see and understand the crucial role that visual culture played in forever changing a nation.

Rappahannock Blues

Author(s):  John Jackson
Year:  2010

Raised in a large, musical farm family in Rappahannock County, Virginia, John Jackson (1924-2002) was the most important black Appalachian musician to come to broad public attention during the mid-1960s. Having learned guitar and his wide-ranging stock of songs as a youth from family and 78-rpm recordings, he enthralled major audiences during more than three decades with his vintage style and repertoire. Culled from hundreds of live concert recordings in the Smithsonian Folkways archives, the twenty tracks of Rappahannock Blues highlight John Jackson the way he most wanted to be remembered—as a bluesman

IndiVisible: African-Native Lives in the Americas

Editor(s):  Gabrielle Tayac
Year:  2009

IndiVisible: African-Native Lives in the Americas, is a companion book to the exhibition of the same name which was produced in collaboration with the National Museum of the American Indian and the Smithsonian Institution Travelling Exhibition Services. Throughout American history, people of combined African and Native American descent have often struggled for acceptance, not only from dominant cultures but also from their own communities. In this collection of twenty-seven groundbreaking essays, authors from across the Americas explore the complex personal histories and contemporary lives of people with a dual heritage that has rarely received attention as part of the multicultural landscape. Illustrated with seventy-five paintings, photographs, and drawings, the book brings to light an epic but little-known part of American history that speaks to present-day struggles for racial identity and understanding.

The Scurlock Studio and Black Washington: Picturing The Promise

Editor(s):  National Museum of African American History and Culture
Year:  2009

Nearly a century's worth of Scurlock photographs combine to form a searing portrait of black Washington in all its guises—its challenges and its victories, its dignity and its determination. Beginning in the early twentieth century and continuing into the 1990s, Addison Scurlock, followed by his sons, Robert and George, used their cameras to document and celebrate a community unique in the world, and a stronghold in the history and culture of the nation's capital.

Through photographs of formal weddings, elegant cotillions, ballet studios, and quiet family life, the Scurlocks revealed a world in which the black middle class refused to be defined or held captive by discrimination. From its home on the vibrant U Street corridor, the Scurlock Studio gave us indelible images of leaders and luminaries, of high society and working class, of Washingtonians at work and at play. In photograph after photograph, the Scurlocks captured an optimism and resiliency seldom seen in mainstream depictions of segregated society.

Luminaries such as Duke Ellington, Ralph Bunche, Mary McLeod Bethune, Alain Locke, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Lois Mailou Jones testify to the intellectual and cultural vibrancy that was unique to Washington and an inspiration to the nation. Photographs of a Peoples Drugstore protest and Marian Anderson's Easter morning concert at the Lincoln Memorial remind us that the struggle for equality in black Washington began long before the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Offering a rich lens into our past, The Scurlock Studio and Black Washington is a powerful trigger of personal and historical memory.

Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits

Editor(s):  Deborah Willis
Year:  2007

This stunning collection of photographic portraits traces US history through the lives of well-known abolitionists, artists, scientists, writers, statesman, entertainers, and sports figures. Drawing on the photographic collections of the National Portrait Gallery, author Deborah Willis explores how these images—many by famous photographers—reveal the nation's history through an African American lens and challenge us all to uphold America's highest ideals and promises. Let Your Motto Be Resistance is the inaugural publication of the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American History and Culture.