/themes/african-american-history

African American History

Learn about the African American experience through the arts — and discover the contributions of African Americans to the history and culture of the United States.

Audio
The battle for racial equality had many heroes, some who made history just by opening their mouths to sing
Article
In The Problem We All Live With, artist Norman Rockwell took a stand against racism
Interactive
Explore the themes and art that emerged during the Harlem Renaissance
Website
A national youth campaign to inspire young people to share their art and expression by telling us "How have things changed?"
Audio Series
Out of the hardships of Black Americans at the turn of the 20th century came the blues, a music that helped ease their suffering
Master + Work
Find out how Ailey explored themes of African American heritage and culture through dance
Audio Series
Jazz musicians Billy Taylor and Frank Wess lead you through their hometown's music scene in this six-part audio series
The Story Behind The Song
In this story, find out how a song helped steel the courage of African Americans as they struggled for civil rights
Flash Interactive
Take part in this in-depth exploration of one of America's richest musical forms, the jazz movement
Lesson
Explore and analyze Lift Every Voice and Sing, a poem by James Weldon Johnson.
Lesson
Students will learn to identify musical styles and musicians associated with Harlem, focusing on jazz
Lesson
Examine Harriet Tubman's life through informative resources and impressionistic art
Lesson
Examine the struggles of Tubman along the Underground Railroad
Lesson
Using collage, students create a scene from the life of Harriet Tubman
Lesson
Learn how African-American spirituals shared information within the slave community
Lesson
Learn about the history, key players and musical qualities of the blues
Lesson
Learn about the courageous efforts of the Freedom Riders during the civil rights movement
Lesson
Students listen to, sing, and read the lyrics to various African American spirituals. They discuss the coded messages in the songs, and the purpose of these codes.
Lesson
In this lesson, students will learn about the migration of African Americans to Harlem
Lesson
Examine the political and economic reasons for the African-American migration to Northern cities between the World Wars
This Day in the Arts
January 05, 1931: Alvin Ailey is born in Rogers, Texas
This Day in the Arts
January 12, 1959: Motown Records is founded in Detroit, Michigan
This Day in the Arts
January 17, 1931: James Earl Jones is born in Arkabutla, Mississippi
This Day in the Arts
January 23, 1977: Roots premieres on television
This Day in the Arts
January 26, 1934: The Apollo Theater opens in Harlem, New York
This Day in the Arts
February 01, 1902: Langston Hughes is born in Joplin, Missouri
This Day in the Arts
February 20, 1927: Sidney Poitier is born in Miami, Florida
This Day in the Arts
February 29, 1940: Gone with the Wind sets award record
This Day in the Arts
March 08, 1892: Mississippi John Hurt is born in Teoc, Mississippi
This Day in the Arts
March 14, 1933: Quincy Jones is born in Chicago, Illinois
This Day in the Arts
March 20, 1852: Uncle Tom’s Cabin is published
This Day in the Arts
March 27, 1934: Arthur Mitchell is born in New York City
This Day in the Arts
April 04, 1915: Muddy Waters is born in Jug’s Corner, Mississippi
This Day in the Arts
April 07, 1915: Billie Holiday is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This Day in the Arts
April 08, 1964: The Supremes finish recording their first No. 1 hit
This Day in the Arts
April 09, 1939: Marian Anderson performs at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
This Day in the Arts
April 25, 1918: Ella Fitzgerald is born in Newport News, Virginia
This Day in the Arts
April 26, 1886: Ma Rainey is born in Columbus, Georgia
This Day in the Arts
April 29, 1899: Duke Ellington is born in Washington, D.C.
This Day in the Arts
May 13, 1950: Stevie Wonder is born in Saginaw, Michigan
This Day in the Arts
May 16, 1983: Michael Jackson moonwalks
This Day in the Arts
May 19, 1930: Lorraine Hansberry is born in Chicago, Illinois
This Day in the Arts
May 21, 1971: Marvin Gaye releases What’s Going On
This Day in the Arts
May 23, 1921: Shuffle Along opens on Broadway
This Day in the Arts
May 26, 1926: Miles Davis is born in Alton, Illinois
This Day in the Arts
June 19, 1973: Smokey Robinson releases his first solo record
This Day in the Arts
July 08, 1922: Louis Armstrong moves to Chicago, Illinois to pursue music
This Day in the Arts
July 12, 1937: Bill Cosby is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This Day in the Arts
August 04, 1901: Louis Armstrong is born in New Orleans, Louisiana
This Day in the Arts
August 08, 1907: Benny Carter is born in Harlem, New York
This Day in the Arts
August 21, 1906: William “Count” Basie is born in Red Bank, New Jersey
This Day in the Arts
August 29, 1920: Charlie Parker is born in Kansas City, Kansas
This Day in the Arts
September 06, 1925: Jimmy Reed is born in Dunleith, Mississippi
This Day in the Arts
September 16, 1925: B.B. King is born in Itta Bena, Mississippi
This Day in the Arts
September 25, 1968: Will Smith is born in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This Day in the Arts
October 18, 1926: Chuck Berry is born in St. Louis, Missouri
This Day in the Arts
October 26, 1911: Mahalia Jackson is born in New Orleans, Louisiana
This Day in the Arts
November 05, 1956: The Nat King Cole Show premieres on television
This Day in the Arts
November 16, 1873: W.C. Handy is born in Florence, Alabama
This Day in the Arts
November 24, 1868: Scott Joplin is born near Texarkana, Texas
This Day in the Arts
November 27, 1936: Robert Johnson records “Cross Road Blues”
This Day in the Arts
December 02, 1982: Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video is released
This Day in the Arts
December 04, 1927: Duke Ellington opens at the Cotton Club
This Day in the Arts
December 07, 2003: James Brown receives a Kennedy Center Honors Award
This Day in the Arts
December 08, 1925: Sammy Davis, Jr. is born in New York City
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