The Scout Report
February 7, 2014 -- Volume 20, Number 5
Black History Month provides an opportunity to investigate the tremendous contributions that African Americans have made to the history and cultural development of the United States. For this special edition of the Scout Report we have found some of the best online resources for telling the many and varied stories of African Americans today and in the past. Through this collection of resources on music, history, science, and education we hope to inspire readers to continue celebrating African American history and culture this month and throughout the year.
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A Publication of Internet Scout
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Carnegie Hall: Honor! A Celebration of the African American Cultural Legacy
The Underground Railroad: The Struggle Against Slavery
Science Update: African American Scientists
The Coretta Scott King Book Awards
Black Americans in Congress
Du Bois Central
American Promise: POV
Oxford African American Studies Center: Focus on Women and Literature
African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship
In Motion: the African-American Migration Experience
Amistad Digital Resource for Teaching African American History
The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
Witness: Black History
The origins of Black History Month can be found in Chicago
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Take a tour of African American music through the ages. As part of Carnegie Hall’s Honor! A Celebration of the African American Cultural Legacy exhibit, Portia K. Maultsby’s timeline of African American music illustrates the dynamic flow of genres from the sacred and secular traditions of the 17th century to the hip-hop, techno, and new jazz swing movements of today. Click on any of the genres to hear a sample of the music, read more information, or view the archives. The About section provides a detailed definition, underlying context and history, music features, performance style, lyrics, and even several notable performers. From the Archives also has a selection of iconic images of performers and events from each genre. The timeline also lists Notable Carnegie Hall Performances with dates, images, and performers. This resource is an excellent way to explore the roots of the music we listen to today, and see how it has changed over the years. [CW]
While Detroit is commonly known for its contributions to the automobile industry, the city is perhaps lesser known for its central roles in the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad. Yet, more than 5,000 enslaved people passed through Detroit's Second Baptist Church alone on their way to freedom. Covering a broad range of topics, this exciting digital history project presents the Underground Railroad as a living entity composed of communities, organizations, events, and places, focusing primarily on Detroit and the Midwest. Based out of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the project is designed "to help students and the general public learn more about this important aspect of U.S. history." A great place to start is the Online Course which provides 12 modules featuring video lectures of various lengths and documenting the Underground Railroad and the history of slavery in America. The lectures can be viewed all at once or viewed in installments if so desired. The site also features a great collection of interviews with historians and descendants, searchable Encyclopedias of people and places, and links to numerous external websites discussing the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, and the long struggle for civil rights. Lesson plans can be found within Education Resources. Truly, this is a great find for educators, students, and the general public hoping to learn more about these incredible collaborative and covert activities. [CD]
Produced by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Science Update devotes itself to reporting a variety of scientific, technological, and medical topics via free online podcasts and radio broadcasting. Listeners can call in to the station or submit an online form to ask relevant science questions, which are then answered and investigated in 60-second podcasts or radio features. In this particular feature, Science Update honors the careers of several African American members in the scientific community. In short but informative podcasts, Science Update answers relevant public questions about the individuals’ work, and provides a rich image of the prolific careers of today’s black scientists. [AA]
The Coretta Scott King Book Award was founded in 1969 in honor of the late Mrs. Coretta Scott King, wife of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for her passion and dedication to working for peace. The awards are given to “outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.” Created by the American Library Association, this page provides a variety of resources, including a section on the history of the award and a list of all past award winners. Another great facet of this page is the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Donation Grant. The goal of this program is to increase children’s access to books by building the libraries of nontraditional institutions that provide services to children. Within Resources and Bibliographies, a series of educational materials related to multicultural and diversity resources and collections are also available. [CW]
History, Art & Archives is a collaborative project between the Office of the Historian and the Clerk of the House’s Office of Art and Archives to serve as the institutional memory for the House of Representatives. Currently featured on its website and based on the book, Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007, are the biographical profiles of the 140 African Americans that have served as U.S. Representatives or Senators. The profiles provide detailed information on the office served, state and party affiliations, committee assignments, as well as a detailed biography for each member. This resource contains a series of historical data sets on a variety of topics, including Black Members’ Committee Assignments from 1870-present, Congressional Black Caucus Chairmen and Chairwomen, and Black-American Familial Connections in Congress. This data is also presented in a series of Historical Essays covering four different eras from 1870-2007. A supplementary series of seven lesson plans for grades 7-12 are also available for interested visitors. The lessons cover several topics and include resources to compliment the material, including essays, photographs, and famous quotations. [CW]
The Department of Special Collections and the University Archives at UMass Amherst have paired up to create this wonderful collection of resources relating to the life and legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois. A pioneering sociologist, novelist, historian, playwright, and culture critic, Du Bois advocated for racial and social justice throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For those unfamiliar with Du Bois and his work, the About Du Bois section is a great place to start, featuring a concise biography, a chronology, and an interactive timeline sorted by decade. The Digital Projects section is another great portion of the collection. Along with selected essays on education, war, and voting rights, visitors will find links to various editions of The Crisis, the official publication of the NAACP which Du Bois edited for many years, as well as the creatively titled DuBoisopedia. Created via wiki technology and accessible from this site, the DuBoisopedia offers a forum for any student or researcher engaged with Du Bois's writings or ideas to share their knowledge with others. It is a great forum to fuel future research and study. The site is also rounded out by wonderful photographs of the esteemed intellectual throughout his life. [CD]
Dramatic, poignant, and provocative, PBS’s Point of View documentaries provide access to often overlooked facets of American society. African-American filmmakers and parents Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson chronicle twelve years of educational ups and downs of their son, Idris, and his classmate Seun in American Promise. The documentary follows the two boys’ journey through Manhattan’s prestigious Dalton School as recruited students of color, shedding light on the black male achievement gap in the context of early education. Through their experiences, the viewer is offered intimate access to modern civil rights, gender and racial gaps, and generational conflict in the black community. The website offers a full length trailer, background, character descriptions, and a photo slideshow, as well as online streaming from February 4th – March 5th, 2014. [AA]
The Oxford African American Studies Center has created this website to house its comprehensive collection of scholarship documenting the many and varied experiences that make up African and African American history and culture. Along with over 10,000 articles, 2,500 images, and 200 maps, the site features an excellent "Focus On" series each month, in which the editors compile various short articles, picture essays, and links on a designated topic. The Focus on Women and Literature is particularly noteworthy. Here, visitors can explore the life and works of influential women in American literature, from Phillis Wheatley to Toni Morrison. The site can be easily navigated by subject or by specific biography, with suggestions for related sources and content provided in each section. Additionally, curious visitors will find links to all of the previously featured subjects within the series, ranging from African Americans in Science and Technology to Black Homesteading in the American Western Frontier. [CD]
The Library of Congress’s “African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship” exhibition celebrates African American history over nine time periods, ranging from 18th century slavery to the Civil Rights era. This thorough collection includes over 240 books, government documents, maps, musical scores, films, and plays, supplemented with relevant historical explanations and contexts. Viewers can peruse through more than two hundred years of historical documents to better understand the African American quest for equality in the face of adversity. All available for review online, the collection features a key-word search for more efficient learning and researching. Through easy browsing of original documents, such as letters Frederick Douglass wrote during the Civil War, users are able to get a better historical perspective on the unique development of African American culture. [AA]
Presented by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library, In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience documents a new interpretation of African-American history that focuses on the self-motivated activities of peoples of African descent through thirteen defining periods of voluntary or involuntary migration. Ranging from The Transatlantic Slave Trade to The Great Migration to Haitian Immigration: 20th Century, the exhibit explains the extraordinary diversity of African Americans living in the United States today. While the site can be browsed by Migrations, Geography, Timeline, Source Materials, Educational Materials, or through a general search, a great way to start is by clicking on a migration of interest. From here, a variety of Educational Materials, Images, Texts, and Maps can be viewed, along with a short, descriptive narrative highlighting specific elements of the journey. For those interested, the website is also accompanied by a National Geographic-published companion book of the same name. [CD]
Based out of Columbia University, the Amistad Digital Resource for Teaching African American History was created with a goal of helping teachers present a more inclusive representation of American history within K-12 social studies curriculum. Housing rare and iconic photographs, audio recordings, news clips, and excerpts of oral history interviews, the site consists of three Modules: Plantation to Ghetto, Civil Rights Era, and The Future in the Present. Section one of Plantation to Ghetto documents the end of Reconstruction in the South and Jim Crow laws. From here, visitors can read a descriptive narrative, review related documents, and even view a short film clip from NBC on Jim Crow Laws in the South. Visitors may peruse each module for a desired era or event, or search the archive by Key Figure, Organization and Institution, Images, Videos, or Documents. [CD]
In celebration of one of the most foundational African American figures in history, The King Center Imaging Project has undergone an intense process of digitization to allow universal access to the life’s work of Martin Luther King Jr. Users can sift through a dynamic collection of one million archived documents, images, letters, notes, and speeches, presented via a convenient mosaic interface. Along with the archive, the site provides background information and a glossary for Dr. King’s message of nonviolence. Apart from the historical value of the site, users are prompted to follow in Dr. King’s work, submitting their own “dreams” for careers, human rights, and world peace. This input is collected into a growing base of nearly five-thousand “dreams” that can be searched via theme or geographic location, true evidence of Dr. King’s influential humanitarian message. [AA]
The BBC World Service's Witness program offers a unique insight into the American civil rights era, focusing on important events in Black History. This special feature provides thirty-three free and downloadable podcast interviews of individuals that were present during hallmark events in history, such as Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream" speech and The Freedom Riders protests. Listeners have the ability to hear a first-hand account of what it was like to attend the first desegregated elementary school, as told by Ruby Bridges, along with several other noteworthy witnesses to history. The podcasts are available indefinitely, and can be accessed via the online website or downloaded for remote listening. [AA]
Association for the Study of African American Life and History: The Origins of Black History Month
African American History Month
African American History Month: Chicago Tribune
Carter G. Woodson, Father of Black History
Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site
African American Cultural Heritage Virtual Tour
Like many key moments in African American history in the 20th century, the city of Chicago has its place in the creation of Black History Month. The story begins in the late summer of 1915 when historian Carter G. Woodson traveled from Washington, D.C. to participate in a celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of emancipation. The event was sponsored by the state of Illinois, and thousands of African Americans traveled to see elaborate exhibits highlighting the achievements of African Americans during the previous 50 years. Inspired by this magnificent celebration, Woodson and a group of colleagues met at the Wabash YMCA that September 9th and they created the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Eleven years later in 1926, he sent out a press release announcing Negro History Week. Until his death in 1950, Woodson continued to forcefully argue for the extension of this event to include every week in the year. In 1976, President Gerald Ford announced that February would be Black History Month and it has been celebrated by every president since that year. [KMG]
The first link will lead visitors to a history of Black History Month from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. The second link will take interested parties to a great overview of resources for Black History Month offered by the Library of Congress. Moving on, users will find a nice list of news articles and celebrations around Black History Month from the Chicago Tribune. Next, visitors will find an article by Lerone Bennett, Jr. about Carter G. Woodson. The fifth link will take visitors to the official homepage of the Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site in Washington, D.C. The final link will take visitors to a virtual tour of key African American cultural sites created by the Smithsonian Institution.
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