Black and white portrait of Jarena Lee
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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Photographic print of Korean War Veteran, Edward T. Taylor 1952
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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Swim cap worn and signed by Simone Manuel at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.Cap is signed in gold text. navy blue cap with an image of US flag and MANUEL written on it..
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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Astronaut Mae Jemison
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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 collection of the  Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
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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US Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) gives the convocation oration for the 2017 Howard University Commencement Ceremony
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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Valaida Snow, 1920s
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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Rev. Dr. Joseph Echols Lowery, Congressman John Conyers, Rev. Dr. Ralph David Abernathy, Mrs. Rosa Parks and Mr. Cleveland Robinson, chatting, 1969.
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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Mary Church Terrel
Our American Story

Because of Her Story: Activist and Suffragist Mary Church Terrell

Mary Eliza Church Terrell was a renowned educator and speaker who campaigned fearlessly for women’s suffrage and the social equality of African Americans.
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Black and white portrait image of African American man standing shirtless with arms crossed in front.
Our American Story

Transforming Dance around the World

By weaving African American themes into his dances, Alvin Ailey ushered in a new era of concert dance. Ailey made an immeasurable impact around the world of dance.
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