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Our American Story

Jazz Appreciation Month: Duke Ellington

April is Jazz Appreciation Month. Often referred to as the most uniquely American style of music, and even the original American art form, jazz is inextricably linked to African American history and culture. This month, we celebrate jazz and honor its most famous practitioners, including a man called Duke.
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Our American Story

HBCUs: a legacy of shaping African American athletes

Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have always been incubators for talent. In the post–Civil War Reconstruction years (1863–1877), dozens of HBCUs were founded to meet the educational needs of free and newly freed African Americans. Whereas most institutions barred or limited African American enrollment, HBCUs arose to provide higher education and vocational training.
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Collection Story

Breaking Barriers in the Sky: The First African American Flight Attendants

Black flight attendants of the mid-20th century made invaluable contributions to the pursuit of civil rights through actively challenging and subverting the narrow standards of what it meant to represent their profession during this era. Courtesy of retired Delta Air Lines stewardess Casey Grant, a collection of materials donated to the Museum including uniforms, pins, awards and certificates, photographs, and documents shed light on the African American flight attendants who persevered in the face of race and gender-based discrimination, paving the way for Black aviation professionals decades thereafter.
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The Coming of Freedom

Emancipation Proclamation: An Introduction

https://nmaahc.si.edu/explore/stories/emancipation-proclamation-striking-mighty-blow-slavery
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You Should Know

You Should Know: Black Fashion Icons

African Americans have participated in the fashion industry in various roles, including as designers, dressmakers, seamstresses and influencers.

They have found ways to build spaces for their creative expressions, even when they have faced intensively challenging circumstances such as prejudices and discrimination based on race, gender and classism.
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Collection Story

African Americans at Work: A Photo Essay

From enslaved workers in the 19th century to agricultural, industrial, and professional workers in the 20th and 21st centuries, African Americans have always been a vital part of the American workforce. This photo essay documents African Americans at work from the 1860s to today.
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Notes on the March on Washington

On August 28, 1963, a quarter of a million people rallied on the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. Traveling from cities, towns, and villages around the country by bus, car, plane, train, and on foot, they convened to find strength in a shared history, future, and purpose.
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Collection Story

Babies, Beauty, and Bravery: Black Excellence on the Covers of The Crisis

The editors of The Crisis used images of darling children, beautiful women, and strapping soldiers on their issue covers as symbols of Black excellence in order to discredit the idea that Black people were naturally inferior as a race. These covers reflect the many ways that African Americans maintained racial pride in the face of oppression.
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Collection Story

Strands of Inspiration: Exploring Black Identities through Hair

Many artists and designers in the NMAAHC collection explore the role that hair plays within their own Black identities. These artists highlight Black hair’s ability to form meaning due to its malleable nature that gives way to creative symbolism. The cultural significance of Black hair manifests through the themes demonstrated in art works that consider race through the lenses of gender, space, and time.
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Collection Story

LaToya Ruby Frazier: An Artist Forged in a Steel Mill Town

LaToya Ruby Frazier is an artist born of her environment. Raised in the collapsed steel mill town of Braddock, Pennsylvania, Frazier’s empathy, humanism, commitment to social and environmental justice, and artistic sensibilities were forged by what she witnessed around her from a young age. Throughout her career she has integrated herself into communities to collaboratively document people’s everyday lives during defining moments in American history, altering the narrative and the country.
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