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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Our American Story

HBCUs Foster Scholarship, Culture and Community

HBCU campuses have always been places that foster the development and achievement of African Americans. The historic election of U.S. Vice President–elect Kamala Harris also has generated significant attention.
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Our American Story

The Stage Belonged to Her

If sheer talent were a measure of fame, Valaida Snow would be one of the most renowned performers of the 20th century. Her story epitomizes the history of countless gifted but underappreciated African American artists, performers, and musicians who often were not universally recognized in their lifetime.
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Our American Story

Revolutionary Messages Need Revolutionary Messengers

Civil rights icon Reverend Dr. Joseph Echols Lowery's commitment to racial justice, social equality, and nonviolent protest transformed the fight against oppression around the world.
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