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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Our American Story

Our American Story - Juneteenth

This year marks the second anniversary since President Joe Biden named Juneteenth a federal holiday in 2021. As more Americans celebrate Juneteenth with family and community, it is vital to share the important historical legacy behind Juneteenth and recognize the long struggle to make it an officially recognized holiday. It is an opportunity to honor our country’s second Independence Day and reflect on our shared history and future.
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Our American Story

From Slavery to Freedom

From inventing dry-cleaning to sugar refining to the first steamboat propeller, African Americans have been active contributors to the economic, political, and social legacies of the United States. Much of U.S. history, however, is contextualized by the system of slavery that was imposed on African Americans for 250 years—and how those born under that system and in its aftermath have crafted a culture deeply rooted in resilience and looking toward the future. The transition from slavery to freedom included many roadblocks as the country confronted the question of how resources could reach newly freed African Americans.
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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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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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Our American Story

The Bronze Stars of Korean War Veteran Edward Theodore Taylor

I reflect on the 600,000+ African Americans who served in Korea and on those who received medals for their valor in this nation’s first desegregated war. I then celebrate in my mind my six decades of engagement in civil rights and public education that followed my return home from Korea. I learned the hard way that service in the U. S. military did not guarantee an African American full citizenship, that the struggle for respect and equality had to be fought on numerous other fronts, and that this battle would remain ongoing.
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Our American Story

African Americans at the Olympic Games

The Olympic and Paralympic Games are the world’s biggest stage for athletes. For many African Americans, this high level of visibility has become a platform not just for their talents and abilities, but also for their community values, their advocacy, and their voices.
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Our American Story

African American Achievement at NASA

Earlier this month, during a year that marks the 60th anniversary of human spaceflight, people across the country celebrated National Space Day and recognized the extraordinary achievements made in space exploration and research.
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Our American Story

Jane Crow & the story of Pauli Murray

If one were to describe Pauli Murray as remarkable, it would be without exaggeration. A pioneering lawyer, civil and women’s rights activist, prolific writer, Episcopal priest, and so much more—Murray was a trailblazer for countless women.
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