A color photograph of eleven female rappers posed together on a wooden stage in front of a brick wall.
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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Detail of an image of Henry O. Flipper and cadets at West Point
Collection Story

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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Detail of photo of Jackie Robinson on opening day.
Collection Story

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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A quilted and appliqued textile portrait of Harriet Tubman
Collection Story

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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Detail of a lithographic print juxtaposing two black faces stylized as African masks framed by yellow circular emblems with a black panther in the center
Collection Story

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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Yellow wallpaper with gray and white drawings of African Americans
Collection Story

A Heritage of Design

Design shapes almost everything we as humans do. Designers give form to our actions—how we sit in a chair, how we turn a lamp on and off, how we move between rooms in a home. By referencing African diaspora cultural practices and well-known design traditions, these objects—ranging from wallpaper to seating to architectural elements and beyond—tell stories about a heritage of design.
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The top of a woman's fase with the text "The Black Woman" in the top right corner
Collection Story

(Re)Creating the Narrative

Black women writers have consistently been a part of the cultural renaissances that have reshaped Black culture, nationally and globally. The work of Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Maya Angelou are just a few examples of the many women writers who have contributed to the project of creation and recovery known as the Black Women’s Literary Renaissance of the 1970s.
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An image of a uniformed Joe Louis meeting with men in uniform.
Collection Story

Joe Louis’ Sacrifice and Service for Equality

Joe Louis’ contributions to society, the war effort, and racial equality embody the efforts of African American servicemembers during World War II, as they fought a battle on two fronts: against foreign fascism and domestic white supremacy.
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A man and woman stand hand-in-hand at the front center of the stage. She is wearing a white, full length evening gown and he, a light colored tuxedo. Eight (8) showgirls in matching light colored outfits fan around them, four (4) on each side.
Collection Story


The Cathrell Collection presents not only a diverse picture of the jazz scene of the 1930s and 1940s, but also shines a spotlight on the careers of chorines whose high-energy performances have been overlooked. Through the journeys of three chorines represented in this collection, Laurie Cathrell (1914–1999), Birdie Warfield (ca. 1916–unknown), and Chickie Collins (ca. 1915–1942), one can see that chorines were not merely ornamentation for big bands, but talented, ambitious performers in their own rights.
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A colorful painting depicting a man on a donkey and a woman carrying a basket on her head.
Collection Story

From Harlem to Haiti

African Americans have long had an interest in Haiti and the Harlem Renaissance saw a particular flourishing of artistic and cultural work about the island nation by prominent African American creators. The work of many African Americans during the Harlem Renaissance highlights the long-lasting linkages between Black Americans and Haiti, as well as the continued desire for connections across the African Diaspora.
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