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Consider Making Monday a Day On, Not a Day Off

Every year, on the third Monday of January, America pauses to celebrate the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His widow, Coretta Scott King, along with many civil rights leaders, public figures and everyday people campaigned against the odds—and many resistant politicians—to make Dr. King’s birthday a federal holiday. I […]

Reflections on the Life of a Native American Marine

November 10, 2015 marks the 240th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. Semper fidelis! It just so happens that this birthday falls during November, the month set aside to celebrate the rich history and culture of Native Americans/American Indians. Interestingly enough, while recently doing some research for a media event, I came across a […]

Jean Ritchie, 1922-2015

Note: The whole AFC staff was saddened by the death of Jean Ritchie earlier this month.  We paid tribute to her immediately in a Facebook post, which you can see here, and the Chairman of our Board of Trustees, C. Kurt Dewhurst, made a moving statement about Jean at the Board’s June meeting.  However, I […]

East Asian American Traditions

The earliest East Asian immigrants often had a difficult journey making their way to the United States. Many carried little with them but the cultural traditions they knew, such as language, stories, religious customs, foodways, music, song, and dance. Chinese Americans Chinese immigrants, mainly Cantonese speakers from Guangdong, were among the first Asians to come […]

What is it About May?

I confess. I always get a little giddy in May. Maybe it’s because the longer, warmer days of May mark the impending arrival of summer, my absolute favorite season. Yes, I am one of the rare lovers of brutally hot, humid DC summers. Or maybe May brings out the giddiness in me because I admire […]

Honoring Vernacular Sounds: AFC Recordings on the National Recording Registry

Last week, the Library announced this year’s inductees to the National Recording Registry.  There, along with classics by The Doors, Radiohead, Steve Martin, and Joan Baez, was a fascinating AFC collection: The Benjamin Ives Gilman Collection Recorded at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition at Chicago. This collection of 101 wax cylinder recordings was created by […]

Recognizing African-American Veterans This Month and All Other Months Too

As a native Washingtonian, I grew up in a predominantly African American community and proudly attended D.C. Public Schools, where Black History was taught as a regular part of the curriculum, and not just during February. As far as my elementary school music teacher was concerned, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” also known as “The […]

Webcast of Cultural Heritage Archives Symposium Online

This is a guest blog post by folklife specialist Catherine Hiebert Kerst. The photos are by Stephen Winick for AFC. For anyone who missed the September, 2013 Cultural Heritage Archives: Networks, Innovation, & Collaboration Symposium hosted by the American Folklife Center, or anyone who wants to revisit it, the full webcast is online at the […]

Omaha Hethu’shka Society Songs and Dances

Historically, the Omaha Indian Hethu’shka Society were a group of highly respected men, voted into the group by unanimous consent of the society, who aimed to set a strong example for their people of the best attributes of a warrior. Although traditionally deeds in combat were the central test for inclusion in the society, such […]

American Indian and Alaskan Native Veterans Served Proudly Too

When talking about United States military veterans, there is a group that often gets overlooked–that of American Indian and Alaskan Natives. In fact, growing up, I don’t recall learning too much at all in school about their rich history and culture. Their story would only be a small part of the chapters on Christopher Columbus, […]