The Scout staff loved this Black History Month edition of the Overlooked project from The New York Times, which we featured in February 2019. This compelling project presents belated obituaries of notable black men and women whose deaths were initially and undeservedly ignored by the Times. By correcting these oversights, the Times offers readers a series of important and eminently readable stories on the lives of these remarkable individuals.
Over the past year, The New York Times has been publishing obituaries for women of historical importance whose deaths the newspaper had neglected to commemorate. This project, entitled Overlooked (featured in the 3-16-2018 Scout Report), recently added a special edition in honor of Black History Month. This collection, published on January 31, 2019, "highlights a prominent group of black men and women whose lives we did not examine at the time of their deaths." In one obituary, Tanisha C. Ford writes about fashion designer Zelda Wynn Valdes, who began her career in the Jim Crow era and, after opening her own boutique in New York City, dressed socialites and stars such as Ella Fitzgerald, Eartha Kitt, and Marlene Dietrich. In another obituary, Wil Haygood writes about celebrated ragtime pianist Scott Joplin, whose iconic piece "The Entertainer" is instantly recognizable today and who was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his music in 1976, nearly six decades after his death. Other remarkable people featured in this special edition include filmmaker Oscar Micheaux, abolitionist Mary Ellen Pleasant, and inventor Granville T. Woods. Readers are also invited to nominate candidates for future Overlooked obituaries.