NYT Celebrates Black History with Previously Unpublished Collection

The Times will release at least one image every day in February that captured the Civil Rights era.

The New York Times has uncovered hundreds of archived photos from pivotal moments in Black history and will release at least one of these images every day during Black History Month. From an endearing profile of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. from his appearance on NBC News, to a simple image of a white child sharing the same blackboard with his Black classmate after Princeton school integration, these images capture the hardships of the Civil Rights era.


During this series the Times will feature a number of beloved icons from the sports and entertainment world, such as Jackie Robinson and hip-hop group Run DMC. Much of the backstories to these photos are unknown. For example, on Feb. 14, 1949, just before Robinson became the first Black player to receive the National League's Most Valuable Player Award, he was invited to speak to the Sociology Society at City College in New York. The only information known is from the original caption of the photo, "his work with the Harlem boys' groups," leading us to believe his talks were about inspiring inner city youth.

In 1965, the nation was introduced to a 7-foot-tall, 17-year-old student athlete by the name of Lew Alcindor. Pictured here rooting his team on during a high school championship game, Alcindor was heavily recruited, even harassed, over his talent. He played basketball and got his education at UCLA and eventually entered a successful NBA career. In 1971, the day after he led the Milwaukee Bucks to a championship, Alcindor changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He may be best remembered for his role as Captain Roger Murdock in the 1980 film "Airplane!"

One of the greatest authors in American literature history, James Baldwin, gave a 1972 interview to the New York Times that was featured on the culture pages. That day the photographer, Jack Manning, took many more photos than the 23 frames in the NY Times collage. The key hurdle Manning had to overcome was Mr. Baldwin's own self-consciousness about his looks, an insecurity that was forced on him by his stepfather at a young age. The Times reports: "His stepfather made fun of him when he was growing up, ridiculing his frog eyes and calling him the ugliest boy he had ever seen." Out of the 23 frames that appear in this month's series by the Times, it was frame 19 that got featured in the culture pages back in '72.

In 1964, 16 years after Princeton elementary schools integrated their classrooms, the Times released a feature investigating the effect of integration. On June 21 of that year the Times wrote, "Princeton's two elementary schools were integrated 16 years ago, thus began a three-act racial drama — first, a period of Negro hopes; next, Negro frustration and disillusionment; and then, a limited degree of fulfillment." Princeton was one of the first models for school integration across the country.

Perhaps the most graphic and violent image of this collection is the damage of an attack on Malcolm X's family home. Protesters set the civil rights activist's house in flames, endangering his wife and four daughters. The Times published an article on Feb. 15, 1965, but refrained from using this image that photographer Don Hogan Charles had captured when he walked through the house to document the destruction.

As current race relations continue fostering tension, the New York Times is highlighting the progress the country has made since its formation. From slavery to segregation to riots, Black History Month is an important reminder of the push for equality that unrepresented populations still fight for.

The Royal Wedding Ceremony Included the African-American Experience

A sermon on the civil rights movement and slavery in America and the soulful sounds of a gospel choir were important parts of the ceremony.

An official wedding photograph released by Kensington Palace on May 21 / TWITTER

The marriage of American actress Meghan Markle and Britain's Prince Harry on Saturday was anything but the traditional royal protocol for a wedding at Windsor Castle in England. From a sermon by the first Black leader of the Episcopal Church in the United States to a soul-stirring gospel choir, it was clear that Markle is taking her African-American heritage with her as she begins a new life as one of Britain's royals.

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Lynching Memorial and Museum Opening Highlights America's Racist Past, Parallels Today's Killings of African Americans

"We're dealing with police violence. We deal with these huge disparities in our criminal justice system. You know, if everything was wonderful you could ask the question, 'Why would you talk about the difficult past?' But everything is not wonderful."

@nullafacente_/INSTAGRAM

Hundreds of people lined up in the rain to experience a long overdue piece of American history and honor the lives lost to lynching at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum in Montgomery Alabama on Thursday.

The Equal Justice Initiative, sponsor of this project, has documented more than 4,000 "racial terror" lynchings in the United States between 1877 and 1950.

The first memorial honoring the victims includes sculptures and art depicting the terror Blacks faced; 800 six-foot steel, engraved monuments to symbolize the victims; writings and words of Toni Morrison and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and a final artwork by Hank Willis Thomas capturing the modern-day racial bias and violence embedded in the criminal justice system and law enforcement.

Among memorial visitors were civil right activist Rev. Jesse Jackson and film director Ava Duvernay. According to the Chicago Tribune, Jackson said it would help dispel the American silence on lynchings, highlighting that whites wouldn't talk about it because of shame and Blacks wouldn't talk about it because of fear. The "60 Minutes Overtime" on the memorial just three weeks earlier was reported by Oprah Winfrey, who stated during her viewing of the slavery sculpture, "This is searingly powerful." Duvernay, quoted by the Chicago Tribune, said: "This place has scratched a scab."

The Montgomery Downtown business association's President, Clay McInnis, who is white, offered his thoughts to NPR in reference to his own family connection to the history that included a grandfather who supported segregation and a friend who dismantled it. "How do you reconcile that on the third generation?" he asked. "You have conversations about it."

A place to start: The Montgomery Advertiser, the local newspaper, apologized for its racist history of coverage between the 1870s and 1950s by publishing the names of over 300 lynching victims on Thursday, the same day as the memorial opening. "Our Shame: the sins of our past laid bare for all to see. We were wrong," the paper wrote.

The innumerable killings of unarmed Black men and the robbing of Black families of fathers, mothers, and children today not only strongly resemble the history of lynchings, but also bring up the discomfort and visceral reactions that many have not reckoned with.

Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and the man who spearheaded this project, told NPR: "There's a lot of conflict. There's a lot of tension. We're dealing with police violence. We deal with these huge disparities in our criminal justice system. You know, if everything was wonderful you could ask the question, 'Why would you talk about the difficult past?' But everything is not wonderful."

WFSA, a local news station, interviewed a white man who had gone to see the Legacy Museum downtown, also part of the EJI project, located at the place of a former slave warehouse. He talked about how he was overwhelmed by the experience and that "Slavery is alive in a new way today."

Reactions on social media were reflective of the memorial's power and the work that is continuing toward progress.

During a launch event, the Peace and Justice Summit, Marian Wright Edelman, activist and founder of the Children's Defense Fund, urged the audience to continue their activism beyond the day's events on issues like ending child poverty and gun violence, according to the Chicago Tribune: "Don't come here and celebrate the museum ... when we're letting things happen on an even greater scale."

Perhaps the reason to honor and witness the horrific experiences of our ancestors is to seal in our minds the unacceptable killings of Blacks today, and the work we ALL have to do now to stop repeating the past.

Take a Knee or Lift a Rifle. What's More Respectful of American Heritage?

A history lesson for the end of Black History Month.

REUTERS

Luke Visconti is the founder and CEO of DiversityInc. Although the title of his column is meant to be humorous, the issues he addresses and the answers he gives to questions are serious — and based on his 18 years of experience publishing DiversityInc. Click here to send your own question to Luke.

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Black History Month Lessons Banned at NYC School Sparks Push for Mandatory Education

Principal Patricia Catania denied lessons on the Harlem Renaissance and confiscated a student-made poster celebrating Lena Horne.

A rally outside of outside Dr. Betty Shabazz School in Brownsville, N.Y. on Feb. 14, 2018. / Photo Courtesy of Male Development & Empowerment Center (MDEC) at CUNY Medgar Evers College.

Patricia Catania, principal of Intermediate School 224 in Bronx, N.Y., told teacher Mercedes Liriano-Clark on Feb. 7 not to give lessons about the Harlem Renaissance and abolitionist and statesman Frederick Douglass.

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Ignoramus Sarah Huckabee Sanders Attacks John Lewis for Not Attending Trump's White Minstrel Show Appearance at Civil Rights Museum

"It's laughable that the White House is criticizing John Lewis and Bennie Thompson for not attending the opening of a civil rights museum that honors the sacrifice of ... wait ... John Lewis, Bennie Thompson, and many others," Rep. Cedric Richmond fired back.

REUTERS

According to the White House, a photo op at a civil rights museum holds more weight than being an active participant in and making sacrifices for the movement itself.

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