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Collection Story

Neighborhood Record Stores: Supplying Music and Cultural Education

In African American neighborhoods, record stores were places where the community, especially youth, could come together to listen to, purchase, and sometimes come face-to-face with the artists behind their favorite music.
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Collection Story

Black Geographies: Our Place in the World

A close look at spaces African Americans have inhabited and fought for can deepen our understanding of the connections between race, space, and place.
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Collection Story

Mary McLeod Bethune: “First Lady of Negro America”

Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune sought to uplift and to buttress the lives of Black Americans through education, organizations, politics, and strong leadership. Her endeavors were recognized by those she served, members of the press, presidents of the United States, a first lady of the United States, and countless others impacted by her works.
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Emancipation and Educating the Newly Freed

For the nearly four million newly freed, education was a crucial first step to becoming self-sufficient. Between 1861 and 1900, more than 90 institutions of higher education were founded for African Americans.
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The Harlem Renaissance in Black Queer History

The Harlem Renaissance, a literary and cultural flowering centered in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood that lasted from roughly the early 1920s through the mid-1930s, marked a turning point in African American culture. Black queer artists and intellectuals were among the most influential contributors to this cultural movement.
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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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Collection Story

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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