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Our American Story

Honoring General Colin Powell

Gen. Colin Luther Powell, our nation’s first African American Secretary of State, was a revered military hero, four-star general, decorated veteran, and statesman. His accomplishments during his decades of military and civil service—including being a recipient of the Soldier’s Medal, the Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, the Congressional Gold Medal, and two Presidential Medals of Freedom, among others—serve as a powerful testament and symbol of the fulfillment of the American promise.
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Fashioning Power and Gender in Hip-Hop

The 1970s witnessed the rise of streetwear, from denim to tennis shoes to casual dresses, all in reaction to the Black Power Movement. When hip-hop emerged in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the already present emphasis on the vernacular style of Black urban life was refined into the iconic looks we know today.
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Duty, Honor, Country: Breaking Racial Barriers at West Point and Beyond

In its first 133 years of existence (1802–1935), over 10,000 white cadets graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. In stark contrast, only three African American cadets could claim this achievement: Henry Ossian Flipper (1877), John Hanks Alexander (1887), and Charles Young (1889).
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Jackie Robinson: Paving the Way Forward

April 15, 2022, marks the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson integrating Major League Baseball. As one of the first and most visible institutions to accept African Americans on relative terms of equality, baseball became viewed as a model for the nation—providing a blueprint for future widespread integration. This story highlights two important objects from the inaugural, impactful 1947 baseball season: a pinback button and a Time magazine cover featuring Jackie Robinson.
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Our American Story

Jarena Lee and the Early A.M.E. Church

The Second Great Awakening marked an era of transformation for America, and a new path forward for Jarena Lee. Born into a free Black family in Cape May, NJ in 1783 and later moving to Philadelphia, Lee navigated the intense religiosity and social reformation of her time to emerge as the nation’s first African American woman preacher, and the first woman to be recognized as an evangelist in the male-dominated African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.
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Harriet Tubman: Life, Liberty and Legacy

Harriet Tubman has been known by many names—Araminta, Moses, conductor, daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt. On the bicentennial of her birth, we look beyond these names to capture not only Harriet Tubman the icon, but Harriet the woman, and Harriet’s legacy of care, activism, and bravery that influenced Black women across time.
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From Here and From There: Exploring Elizabeth Catlett’s African American and Mexican Duality

Elizabeth Catlett (1915–2012) was exiled from the United States due to the political themes she explored in her art. Her legacy is one of cultural belonging and activism that provokes conversations about the role of art among continental American neighbors: the U.S. and Mexico.
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Celebrating Black History Month

Carter G. Woodson's efforts to spotlight African American history lead to the creation of Black History Month, the observation we celebrate today. Featured also is a set of Museum events for Black History Month 2021.
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What is a Doula: A Modern Maternal Discussion

In observance of this year’s African American History month theme, Black Health and Wellness, the National Museum of African American History is spotlighting timeless professions of Midwives and Doulas.
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The Historical Significance of Doulas and Midwives

Today, Midwives are trained healthcare providers who operate both at birthing centers, hospitals, and private residences to care for and support healthy mothers and newborns before, after, and during childbirth. However, midwifery has existed for centuries prior to its earliest recorded practice in the United States.
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