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October 19, 2020
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The True Story of the ‘Trial of the Chicago 7’

Smithsonian
It was one of the most shocking scenes to ever take place in an American courtroom. On October 29, 1969, Bobby Seale, a co-founder of the Black Panther Party and one of eight co-defendants standing trial for inciting the riots that erupted at Chicago’s 1968 Democratic National Convention, was gagged......
History

The So-Called ‘Kidnapping Club’ Featured New York Cops Selling Free Blacks Into Slavery

Smithsonian
This year’s clashes between protestors and the police from Portland to Atlanta to Kenosha are the latest flashpoints in the long history of policing in America. While the police today emerged from a hodge-podge of national and international iterations, one of the United States’ earliest and most storied forces, the......
History

How the Alphabet Got Its Order, Malcolm X and Other New Books to Read

Smithsonian
Throughout history, alphabetical order has acted as an unsung agent of democratization, providing an organizational framework based not on social hierarchies, but an easily memorized string of letters. As historian Judith Flanders argues in A Place for Everything: The Curious History of Alphabetical Order, “The religious no longer automatically took......
History

Eleven Historic Places in America That Desperately Need Saving

Smithsonian
SMITHSONIANMAG.COM | Sept. 28, 2020, 1:53 p.m. A civil rights landmark in Mississippi, a Native American site in California and a public housing complex in Texas may have little in common at first glance, but a recent list brings them all together in the name of preservation. The National Trust......
History

For Generations, Black Women Have Envisioned a Better, Fairer American Politics

Smithsonian
The traditional narrative of American voting rights and of American women’s history, taught in schools for generations, emphasizes the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920 as the pinnacle of achievement for suffragists. A look at the headlines from last month’s centennial commemorations largely confirms women’s suffrage as a critical......
History

Born Enslaved, Patrick Francis Healy ‘Passed’ His Way to Lead Georgetown University

Smithsonian
This back-to-school season, as the coronavirus pandemic demands continued social distancing, many college students are logging onto their classes remotely. While the country fights this public health crisis on one front, it fights the ongoing effects of systemic racism on another, and the battle is joined on America’s college campuses,......
History

How the Death of George Floyd Sparked a Street Art Movement

Smithsonian
This article was originally published on the blog for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History as the first of a five-part series titled “Black Life in Two Pandemics: Histories of Violence”. In March 2020, the Urban Art Mapping research team, a small group of faculty and students from the......
History

See 12 Stunning Portraits of World War II Veterans

Smithsonian
SMITHSONIANMAG.COM | Aug. 31, 2020, 9:55 a.m. Growing up, Zach Coco’s hero was his grandfather Anthony, a veteran who served in World War II’s Pacific theater as a sailor aboard the U.S.S. Rushmore. Though the Los Angeles-based photographer had always wanted to interview his grandfather about his wartime experiences, Anthony......
History

Athletes Shut Down Sports to Protest Police Brutality

Smithsonian
On Wednesday afternoon, the National Basketball Association (NBA) was expecting a triple-header of hotly anticipated playoff games inside the so-called bubble at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida. But as tipoff for the first of those games approached, the Milwaukee Bucks were not on the court. As a team, the......
History

Athletes Shut Down Sports to Protest Police Brutality

Smithsonian
On Wednesday afternoon, the National Basketball Association (NBA) was expecting a triple-header of hotly anticipated playoff games inside the so-called bubble at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida. But as tipoff for the first of those games approached, the Milwaukee Bucks were not on the court. As a team, the......
History

How the Myth of a Liberal North Erases a Long History of White Violence

Smithsonian
This article was originally published on the blog for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History as the first of a five-part series titled “Black Life in Two Pandemics: Histories of Violence”. John Langston was running through a neighborhood in ruins. Burned homes and businesses were still smoking, their windows......
History

Taking a Closer Look at a Mural From 1968’s Resurrection City

Smithsonian
“I came here with the campaign to tell people that we got to be treated like human beings,” said Henrietta Franklin, a poor black woman from Mississippi, explaining to the Washington Post what had brought her to Resurrection City in Washington, D.C. in the spring of 1968. That past winter,......
History

How America Became Obsessed With Horses

Smithsonian
To Sarah Maslin Nir, a horse isn’t just a horse. The New York Times journalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist sees the ungulate as “a canvas on which we’ve painted American identity.” The United States today is home to over 7 million horses, more than when they were the country’s primary......
History

The Forged Gospel of Jesus’s Wife, Hidden Castes and Other New Books to Read

Smithsonian
Nine years after Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code popularized the theory that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, Harvard historian Karen L. King announced the discovery of a 1,600-year-old papyrus that seemingly supported the much-maligned novel’s premise. The 2012 find was an instant sensation, dividing scholars, the press and......
History

What the First Women Voters Experienced When Registering for the 1920 Election

Smithsonian
“Play Election Devised to Teach Women How to Vote,” blared a Boston Globe headline. The Washington Post discussed the League of Women Voters’ planned “schools of citizenship to train women in civic duties,” and in the Midwest, the Grand Forks Herald detailed a mock voting booth—complete with “judges, clerks, printed......
History

Artist Bisa Butler Stitches Together the African American Experience

Smithsonian
SMITHSONIANMAG.COM | July 24, 2020, 10:05 a.m. Not much is known about the black man photographed in 1936 in Greensboro, Alabama, by Dorothea Lange, who was on assignment for the Farm Security Administration. He sits, gazing directly at the camera, with his hand at his lips—as if he’s deep in......
History

John Lewis’ Storied History of Causing ‘Good Trouble’

Smithsonian
For John Lewis, activism for social change was a communal activity. He believed that people coming together to mentor, protest and learn could create a society that they wanted to live in, what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others called the “beloved community.” Creating that community required persistence; optimism;......
History

An Uncrowned Tudor Queen, the Science of Skin and Other New Books to Read

Smithsonian
England’s most notorious dynasty owes much to the trials of a 13-year-old girl: Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond. On January 28, 1457, the young widow—her first husband, Edmund Tudor, had died at age 26 several months prior—barely survived the birth of her only child, the future Henry VII. Twenty-eight years......
History

How a Black Fireman Brought a Pole Into the Firehouse

Smithsonian
In the 19th century, American firefighters had two ways of descending from their sleeping quarters to their horse-and-buggy conveyances on the ground floor: either by spiral staircase—installed to keep wayward horses from wandering upstairs—or through a tube chute, similar to the enclosed slides you see at playgrounds today. The stairs......
History

Mary McLeod Bethune Was at the Vanguard of More Than 50 Years of Black Progress

Smithsonian
The 19th Amendment, ratified in August 1920, paved the way for American women to vote, but the educator and activist Mary McLeod Bethune knew the work had only just begun: The amendment alone would not guarantee political power to black women. Thanks to Bethune’s work that year to register and......

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