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Voices of African American Women

One reason I became interested in the study of folklife was to learn through the voices of peoples who are often under-represented in history. As this is the end of February, African American History Month, and March is Women’s History Month, it seems a good time to take a look at what African American women have to teach us. The primary-source collections of the American Folklife Center, and the Library as a whole, provide wonderful ways to experience history as presented by African American women.

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Q & A with Journalist Vern Smith on the Voices of Civil Rights Project Collection

Two weeks ago, Beth Domingo of AARP’s Life Reimagined Institute and journalist Vern Smith came to the American Folklife Center to talk with us about their work on the Voices of Civil Rights project (AFC 2005/015), sponsored by AARP and donated to the Library of Congress in 2005, and to hear about our recent work […]

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 […]

Thoughts on Martin Luther King Day

On Monday, January 19, we will be celebrating the Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. in the United States. King, the foremost leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, was actually born eighty-six years ago today: January 15, 1929.  The Civil Rights Movement has struggled and continues to struggle for equal rights for all people, […]

Guess Who’s Turning 100?

Whether you’ve been a follower of Folklife Today from the outset, or you’ve only recently joined us, we’d like you to help us celebrate a milestone: this is our 100th post! And what better way to mark that point on our journey than to announce a centennial celebration? So I’m pleased to announce AFC’s 2015 […]

Symposium Spotlights Interracial and Interfaith Coalitions

On September 25th, the American Folklife Center and the Library of Congress’s Hispanic Division brought together eight scholars and activists for a day-long symposium titled Organizing Across the Boundaries: Strategies and Coalitions in the Struggle for Civil Rights and Social Justice. It was the last event for this fiscal year in our public programs series, […]

Civil Rights Act of 1964 Exhibit Now Open

The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom opened at the Library of Congress on September 10th. This exhibit draws from collections across the library to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the act. It covers America’s long history of discrimination and segregation, the grassroots movement for civil rights, and the efforts of […]

Photographs of the Southern Freedom Movement in the Alan Lomax Collection

Ever since the Civil Rights History Project Act was passed in 2009, archivists at the American Folklife Center have kept their eyes and ears open for items related to the Southern Freedom Movement as they process collections. Todd Harvey, curator of the Alan Lomax Collection (AFC 2004/004), recently noticed a folder of twenty-one photographs in […]

A Sampler of Caribbean American Recordings

Caribbean American Heritage Month is a relatively new commemorative month, first created in June, 2006. The American Folklife Center has many collections that document aspects of Caribbean cultures and some of these are available online. This essay can only touch on a few examples, but I hope it will provide ideas on how to explore […]

Songs of the Abundant Ocean

June eighth is World Oceans Day, and an opportunity to look at a few examples of folksongs that relate to the interconnection between humans and the sea from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. In this recording, available via the link, James H. Gibbs of Nantucket, Massachusetts sings an untitled song about sperm whaling, […]