In honor of Black History Month, I would like to share some resources on Black history that I found eye-opening and compelling. There is so much rich history that traditional education has kept from the history books.
I am happy to update this blog with any resources suggested. At The Officials our roots are founded in the exchange of knowledge and us all learning from each other. You comments and suggestions are so very welcome, please leave them in the comments below.
I am originally from Pittsburgh and I’m so lucky that my hometown is full of world-class museums. I encourage anyone to look into their own local black history. Furthermore, as I now live in London, I also dived into the resources available to me here. It has been truly mind-opening.
Heinz History Museum: From Slavery to Freedom
The Heinz History Museum in Pittsburgh has a long-standing exhibition From Slavery to Freedom that was quite eye-opening to me on the lives of the black community in my hometown. This microsite is packed full of extensive historical events, activists and more.
Politically, African Americans were majority Republican since the Civil War. In 1932, Pittsburgh Courier editor Robert L. Vann, in a speech in Cleveland forecasted that African Americans would switch to the Democratic Party presidential candidate Franklin Delano Roosevelt because the Democrats were addressing issues impacting blacks. Decades of Republican apathy and exploitation of black voters were coming to an end. By 1923, Homer S. Brown graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. In 1934, he was elected to the state legislature and in 1949, he was appointed a judge in Allegheny County. Brown sat on the bench until his retirement in 1975. His political rise followed the movement of African Americans from the Republican to Democratic Party. Twenty-five years after Brown was elected to the state legislature, K. LeRoy Irvis was elected to represent the first district of Pittsburgh. Irvis would become speaker of the House in Harrisburg in 1977, only the second African American since John R. Lynch in South Carolina during reconstruction. Both Brown and Irvis witnessed the civil rights revolution of the 1950s and 1960s from their elected chairs.
Political opportunities were the result of a new phase of migration that took place from 1940 to 1970. African Americans in Pittsburgh expanded from 62,000 to 105,000 while the white population in the city declined. This meant more eligible voters for office holders, but the change was a slow process because African Americans were constituted into two legislative districts, the 1st and the 24th. The migration also impacted employment opportunities. Pittsburgh’s great employer of the 20th century was the steel mills. For African Americans, very few worked beyond unskilled labor in the mills. Other occupations recorded the same struggle as eligible workers continued to be denied access to jobs despite having the qualifications. As a result of increased migration, lack of jobs, inadequate housing, unemployment, and slow income growth, civil and economic rights activists continued to advocate for equal rights for African Americans.
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Carnegie Museum of Art: Teenie Harris Archive
I consider myself very lucky to have visited this exhibit with my family on one of my visits to Pittsburgh. Then again, I was delighted when I saw that British Airways was displaying art from Pittsburgh along the Thames and I went straight to the Teenie Harris photograph on display. He had such an amazing talent for capturing everyday life.
“Charles “Teenie” Harris (1908–1998) was the preeminent photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the nation’s prominent black newspapers photographing Pittsburgh’s historic African American community from 1935 to 1975. His archive of over 70,000 images is one of the most detailed and intimate records of the black urban experience known today.
The Teenie Harris Archive at Carnegie Museum of Art is a richly detailed chronicle ranging from World War II to the Civil Rights movement, entertainers to local heroes, sports to churches, and any other hallmark of everyday family life.”
It’s startling to learn they have over 14,000 more photographs they are continuing to digitize.
Culture Mile: Our Stories: Reflecting on Black British History in Four Objects | St Paul’s Cathedral
In this film, poet Victoria Adukwei Bulley discusses the eagle lectern at St Paul’s Cathedral and Paul Robeson’s performance from it in 1958. Paul Robeson was an American black celebrity and political activist who was educated in both prestigious American and English universities.
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture: Geneology Research Sessions
For African Americans, tracing your genealogy can be extremely challenging especially when looking for pre-Civil War records. This incredible program run by the Smithsonian NMAAHC, helps visitors learn how to trace their genealogy online. These sessions continue virtually during this time.
Black Cultural Archives: The 1981 Brixton Uprising
There are so many similarities between The Brixton Uprising in 1981 and what is happening in American with the Black Lives Matter movement – policing tactics weaponized against the black community, disproportionate unemployment rates, groups created to raise money for those unfairly incarcerated and more.
Bedtime Stories for Rebel Girls: Josephine Baker
I had to include this because this is one of my daughter’s favorite stories of all time. She adores The Bedtime Stories for Rebel Girls podcast and the story of the courageous Josephine Baker in-particular.
A little history being made by some wonderful advocates for the administrative profession.
The Inaugural Gathering of the National Association of Black Administrative Professionals, Inc.
Black Admin Magic and Beyond
The National Association of Black Administrative Professionals, Inc. is hosting its inaugural event on February 27, 2021 with a powerful line-up.
Written by Lauren Bradley, Founder of The Officials