Art As A Platform For Social Justice

Meaning, messages, and movements inspired by artists across disciplines including film, music, poetry, theater, and visual art
Carter G Woodson

The Continuing Importance of Black History Month

Carter G. Woodson’s vision for black history as a means of transformation and change is still quite relevant and quite useful.
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Harry Belafonte pictured with civil rights legends Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy.

Harry Belafonte, Actor and Activist

One of the most esteemed entertainers of the 20th century, Harry Belafonte leveraged his decades-long career in music, movies, and theater to challenge racial barriers.
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Costume dresses from, for colored girls… on Broadway, 1976-1978. Designed by Judy Dearing.

A Choreopoem on Broadway

Using an innovative form she defined as a choreopoem, a blend of poetry, storytelling, music, and dance, Ntozake Shange's "for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf" featured a series of dramatic monologues that invoked the lives, loves, and struggles of women of color.

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Mahalia Jackson standing with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and another man.

Mahalia Jackson: Gospel Takes Flight

In describing legendary gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: "A voice like hers comes along once in a millennium."
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A black and white photo of James Baldwin as he smiles while addressing a cheering crowd from the speaker's platform

'A Writer Is by Definition a Disturber of the Peace'

“One writes out of one thing only - one's own experience,” the author James Baldwin penned in “Notes of a Native Son,” his 1955 collection of essays on issues of race in America and Europe. “Everything depends on how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give.”
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Pearl Bailey, Dorothy Dandridge, and Diahann Carroll in Carmen Jones

Black Actresses Who Refused to Be Typecast

The award-winning performances of these five black actresses provided representation for black women across the country and opened doors for women everywhere.
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Photograph of Lena Horne with husband Lennie Hayton 1959

Brilliant Lights: Four Amazing Talents

The talent of Sissieretta Jones, Lillian Evanti, Hazel Scott, and Lena Horne opened doors on stages around the world and paved the way for countless black entertainers to come.
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Black and white portrait image of African American man standing shirtless with arms crossed in front.

Transforming Dance Around the World

Alvin Ailey's dance career reflected the African American journey, changed modern dance, and revolutionized African American participation in the art form.
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Photograph of Louis Armstrong recording at the CBS Studio in New York

A New African American Identity: The Harlem Renaissance

The Great Migration drew to Harlem some of the greatest minds and brightest talents of the day, an astonishing array of African American artists and scholars.
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Drawing of Benjamin Banneker featured on Postage stamp.

Celebrating Black History Month

This February, join the museum in celebrating Black History Month with educational programs, ongoing tours and activities, and our award-winning public programs.
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The Power of Poetry

The Power of Poetry

#NationalPoetryMonth: 3 Poems You Should Read

Happy National Poetry Month! We’re kicking off our favorite time of the year with a challenge to anyone who loves the sound of flowing words and rhythmic beats.
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The Power of Poetry

The Power of Poetry: Post-1970s to Contemporary Performance Poetry

Poetry after the 1970s challenged the tendency of the preceding Black Arts Movement to view African Americans as a monolithic group—as a collective of people with the same values, goals, and cultural expressions.
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The Power of Poetry

The Power of Poetry: Mother's Day Edition

Through literature, writers and activists throughout history have paid homage to mothers of African descent. In recognition of Mother’s Day, the museum features a few selected poems by prominent figures in African American history and culture.
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The Power of Poetry

The Power of Poetry: The New Negro Renaissance to the Black Arts Movement

This is part two of a three-part blog series on African American poetry. This piece will cover The New Negro Renaissance to the Black Arts Movement.
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