Top of page

Category: African American History

Louis Armstrong, in a white shirt, blows into his trumpet during a concert. His eyes are closed.

“Just Jazz,” The Trailblazing Radio Show, Now at the Library

Posted by: Wendi Maloney

From 1961 to 1976, Ed Beach hosted “Just Jazz” on WRVR-FM in New York City. Beach played jazz — soloists, bands, traditional, modern — ranging from the early 1920s to the 1970s.  He featured artists who achieved great fame — Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Max Roach — along with musicians new to his audience. The show is now preserved online by the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, a joint project of the Library of Congress and the Boston public broadcaster GBH.

Black History Month, Day 1: A Petition for Justice Nearly 20 Yards Long

Posted by: Neely Tucker

This is a guest post by Michelle Krowl, a historian in the Manuscript Division. It appears in the Jan.-Feb. issue of the Library of Congress Magazine. In the wake of emancipation during the Civil War, African Americans submitted petitions to government entities in greater numbers than ever before to advocate for equal treatment before the law. …

Head and shoulders portrait of Ida B. Wells, based on a photograph. She's facing right, hair swept up in a bun, a stern expression on her face

Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Du Bois, and the Maps of American Racism

Posted by: Wendi Maloney

Ida B. Wells was 30 years old in 1892, living in Memphis and working as a newspaper editor, when a mob lynched one of her friends. Distraught, the pioneering journalist set out to document the stories of lynching victims and disprove a commonly asserted justification — that the murders were a response to rape. Wells’ …

Image of an ornate clock showing 2:05 with sculpted male figures sitting on each side of the clock face

Crime Classics: Ed Lacy’s Edgar Award-Winning “Room to Swing”

Posted by: Neely Tucker

This is a guest post by Hannah Freece, a writer-editor in the Library’s Publishing Office. “I broke par in Bingston.” With this enigmatic statement, private eye Toussaint Moore opens “Room to Swing,” Ed Lacy’s Edgar Award–winning 1957 novel, the newest addition to the Library of Congress Crime Classics series. It’s the hard-hitting story of a …

Image of an ornate clock showing 2:05 with sculpted male figures sitting on each side of the clock face

An Evening with Hazel Scott, Sept. 28!

Posted by: Neely Tucker

This is a guest post by Anne McLean, a music specialist in the Music Division. On Sept. 28  — that’s Wednesday — the Music Division partners with Dance Theatre of Harlem and Washington Performing Arts to present a special event saluting a pathbreaking Black artist: “Celebrating Hazel Scott: Pianist, Singer, Actress and Activist.” The evening …

Image of an ornate clock showing 2:05 with sculpted male figures sitting on each side of the clock face

W.E.B. DuBois and The Brownies’ Book

Posted by: Neely Tucker

Writer, scholar and activist W.E.B. Du Bois recognized the need for young African Americans to see themselves and their concerns reflected in print. The Brownies' Book, a monthly magazine for the "Children of the Sun ... designed for all children, but especially for ours," was his response. Du Bois aimed to instill and reinforce pride in Black youth and to help Black families as they raised children in a segregated and prejudiced world. The Library has digitical copies of each magazine online.

Image of an ornate clock showing 2:05 with sculpted male figures sitting on each side of the clock face

Bill Russell: In His Own Words

Posted by: Neely Tucker

Bill Russell, the legendary basketball player and civil rights stalwart who died Sunday at the age of 88, filmed an unforgettable conversation for the Civil Rights History Project, an oral history production by the Library and the Smithsonian Museum of African American History, in 2013. It's three hours and was conducted by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Taylor Branch. What comes through strongest is the rock-solid voice of Bill Russell, American icon, who learned from his grandfather to "don't take nothing from nobody."

Image of an ornate clock showing 2:05 with sculpted male figures sitting on each side of the clock face

Mississippi Author Jesmyn Ward: Winner of the 2022 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction

Posted by: Neely Tucker

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced today that the 2022 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction will be awarded to Jesmyn Ward. The 45-year-old Mississippian is the two-time winner of the National Book Award for the novels "Salvage the Bones" and "Sing, Unburied, Sing" among other major literary awards.