Illuminating Journalism from American Public Media
Objects hold history. They're evocative of stories stamped in time. As part of The Washington Post's coverage of the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American History and Culture, people submitted dozens of objects that make up their own lived experiences of black history, creating a "people's museum" of personal objects, family photos and more.
The Historically Black podcast brings those objects and their stories to life through interviews, archival sound and music. The Washington Post and APM Reports are proud to collaborate in presenting these rich personal histories, along with hosts Keegan-Michael Key, Roxane Gay, Issa Rae and Another Round hosts Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton.
Members of an extended Tennessee family talk about their great, great grandfather, a slave owned by his white, biological father. After emancipation, their ancestor managed to buy a farm. Family members reflect on the strength it took to survive slavery and to prosper in the years that followed. Listen.
1863 President Lincoln issues Emancipation Proclamation.
1865 Civil War ends. Slavery is abolished by 13th Amendment to Constitution. President Lincoln is assassinated. Ku Klux Klan founded in Pulaski, Tenn.
1866 Congress passes first Civil Rights Act, granting African Americans full citizenship and equal rights to whites. Southern states pass laws known as "Black Codes" to limit black freedom.
1870 Hiram Rhodes Revels of Mississippi (Senate) and Joseph Rainey of South Carolina (House) become the first African Americans elected to Congress.
Born into slavery, William Hooper Councill founded one of the nation's first HBCUs, Alabama A&M University. Negotiating the racial politics of Reconstruction and the dawn of Jim Crow was dangerous work. Councill was a peer of Booker T. Washington's and is remembered for his accommodating stance toward whites. His complicated story helps us understand the times he lived in and the legacy of HBCUs. Listen.
1877 President Rutherford B. Hayes withdraws last Federal troops from South. Reconstruction era ends. Rise of Jim Crow laws enforcing harsh racial segregation in the South.
1881 Booker T. Washington appointed first head of Tuskegee Institute.
1896 U.S. Supreme Court hands down Plessy v. Ferguson ruling, upholding Jim Crow segregation laws under the doctrine of "Separate but Equal."
1909 W. E. B. Du Bois co-founds National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Its mission is "to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination."
1914 Marcus Garvey forms Universal Negro Improvement Association, a black nationalist fraternal organization.
1915 Start of the Great Migration; more than six million African Americans move from southern states to the west and north.
A young musician and actor discovers that his great, great grandfather was Bill Driver, a celebrated fiddler in Missouri. Family members recall how his fiddle playing often brought blacks and whites together at country dances and fiddle contests, and describe his legacy today. The family's story also highlights the complicated nature of inter-racial mixing in the Jim Crow era. Listen.
1917 United States enters WWI.
1920s The emergence of the Harlem Renaissance, a black social and cultural movement in New York and other communities.
During World War II, a labor shortage obliged the military to hire African American women with mathematical skills to help make complicated computations for warplane designs. This small team of black women faced discrimination but eventually would help NASA astronauts land on the moon. One woman whose grandmother was a "computer" helps tell the story. Listen.
1945 End of WWII.
1947 Jackie Robinson debuts for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
1948 President Harry S. Truman orders desegregation of Armed Forces and use of fair employment practices in federal agencies.
1950 Start of Korean War.
1954 U.S. Supreme Court issues Brown v. Board of Education decision, striking down principal of "separate but equal."
1955 NAACP member Rosa Parks refuses to give up bus seat to white passenger, kicking off Montgomery bus boycott.
1955 Start of American involvement in Vietnam.
1956 More than 100 southern lawmakers sign "Southern Manifesto" describing Brown ruling as a "clear abuse of judicial power." Rise of Massive Resistance.
1957 Martin Luther King, Jr. is elected president of newly founded Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
1962 Whites at University of Mississippi riot in opposition to registration of a black student named James Meredith.
1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom: King delivers "I have a Dream Speech" to massive crowd on the National Mall.
1963 President John F. Kennedy assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
1964Fannie Lou Hamer delivers testimony before the Credentials Committee of Democratic National Committee on being beaten in Mississippi for leading voter registration efforts.
1964 Civil Rights Act signed into law.
1965 Malcolm X assassinated in New York City. Martin Luther King, Jr. leads march from Selma to Montgomery, AL, after civil rights protestors, including John Lewis, were severely beaten in Selma.
1965 Voting Rights Act signed into law.
1965-68 Summer rioting in African American sections of Los Angeles, Newark, Detroit and other U.S. cities.
The Million Man March of 1995 is recreated through the conversation between a young woman and her father, who attended it. He talks about how the event changed his life, and she recalls what it meant to see a poster of the march hanging on the wall of her father's den since she was a girl. Listen.
1995 Minister Louis Farrakhan hosts Million Man March in Washington, D.C.
2001 Terrorist attack on 9/11; start of war in Afghanistan.
2004 Condoleeza Rice is first African American to serve as U.S. Secretary of State.
2008 Barack Obama elected first African American president of United States.
2015 Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriage is a Constitutional right.
This episode spotlights stories of enduring love among African American couples. Listen.
In February 2017, Historically Black was distributed to public radio stations nationwide and heard as a three-part series.
Part 1: NASA's Human Computers, Harlem Through James Van Der Zee's Lens, The Spirit of the Million Man March
0:00 | 00:51:53
Part 2: Tracking Down a Slave's Bill of Sale, The Path to Founding an HBCU, The Fiddler who Charmed Missouri
0:00 | 00:51:53
Part 3: The Question of Black Identity, Black Love Stories
0:00 | 00:51:53
PRODUCERS Kate Ellis Stephen Smith
APM REPORTS Cai Thomas Mary Beth Kirchner Julia Barton Larissa Anderson Andy Kruse Mitch Hanley Ryan Katz Johnny Vince Evans Corey Schreppel Steve Griffith Jonathan Blakley Suzanne Pekow Chris Worthington Mike Reszler
SPECIAL THANKS Keegan-Michael Key Issa Rae Roxanne Gay Heben Nigatu Tracy Clayton T. Michael Rambo
THE WASHINGTON POST Julia Carpenter Veronica Toney Jessica Stahl Tauhid Chappell Tanya Sichynsky