african history


The Sacred Art of the Ori by Laolu

“The Sacred Art of the Ori is a Spiritually Intimate Experience. It’s Cathartic for both me and my Muse. We Connect Our Minds, Bodies, and Souls on Higher Level. I paint their Spirit and Soul from that Connection. It Breathes Life into Us Both. ” — Laolu

My Art is called, Afromysterics, a term I coined in 2007, which means, the mystery of the African thought pattern. All of my work is heavily influenced by my Yoruba heritage and often related to the environment I find myself in. As a Pioneer and Leader in the Afrofuturism movement I consider it my duty to keep creating and to continue to push boundaries.

I am a passionate activist and you will notice how most of my works have social justice ideologies woven throughout.  Also, you will notice feminism, women and children are often present and common themes in my work, this is because of my work as Human Rights Lawyer in Nigeria I was impacted by the strength girls and women have shown me. #Love it!

Portrait of actor Rex Ingram in the motion picture, “The green pastures.” Handwritten on back: “Green pastures, Rex Ingram.”

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library

The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, led by Fannie Lou Hamer and others, elected its own delegates to the 1964 Democratic National Convention to protest voter discrimination in Mississippi.   

Learn how the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and voting rights activism contributed to African American political empowerment in presidential elections in our new exhibition, Battle on the Ballot: Political Outsiders in US Presidential Elections.

This photograph of Fannie Lou Hamer giving a televised speech comes from the collection of Wisconsin Historical Society via Recollection Wisconsin.


We came from the bottom–and it took over 100 years–but we are here!

National Museum of African American History and Culture: A Souvenir Book (September 27, 2016) by Nat'l Museum Afr Am Hist/Cult

This souvenir book showcases some of the most influential and important treasures of the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s collections.  [Book link]

How to Build a Museum: Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (September 6, 2016) by Tonya Bolden

Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is truly groundbreaking! The first national museum whose mission is to illuminate for all people, the rich, diverse, complicated, and important experiences and contributions of African Americans in America is open. And the history of NMAAHC–the last museum to be built on the National Mall–is the history of America. [Book link]

Begin with the Past: Building the National Museum of African American History and Culture (September 27, 2016) by Mabel O. Wilson with a foreword by Lonnie G. Bunch III 

Begin with the Past: Building the National Museum of African American History and Culture is the story of how this unparalleled museum found its place in the nation’s collective memory and on its public commons. [Book link]

Long Road to Hard Truth: The 100 Year Mission to Create the National Museum of African American History and Culture (September 13, 2016) by Robert Leon Wilkins

In Long Road to Hard Truth: The 100 Year Mission to Create the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Robert L. Wilkins tells the story of how his curiosity about why there wasn’t a national museum dedicated to African American history and culture became an obsession-eventually leading him to quit his job as an attorney when his wife was seven months pregnant with their second child, and make it his mission to help the museum become a reality. [Book link]

Official Guide to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (April 11, 2017) by Nat'l Museum African American Hist/Cult and Kathleen M. Kendrick

This fully illustrated guide to the Smithsonian’s newest museum takes visitors on a journey through the richness and diversity of African American culture and the history of a people whose struggles, aspirations, and achievements have shaped the nation. Opened in September 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture welcomes all visitors who seek to understand, remember, and celebrate this history. [Book link]

Basically the era where being thicker than a midget was a crime just because Africans happen to be thick. Sarah (Saartije) Baartman was a Khoisan (South African) woman who performed under the name “Hottentot Venus” in 19th century England and France. She is the original video vixen: discovered at home in South Africa during her late teens, she was offered money and fame in Europe as a singer and dancer. Little did she know that she would be exploited and put on display for everyone to gaze at her large butt, long clitoris/labia, small waist, big breast and kinky hair– all traits that are very common amongst Khoisan women. As her shows attracted more fans, she was forced against her will to have sex with men AND WOMEN who gave enough money to her exploiters. Sarah got none of the money, as she was once promised. After her act got old, she was forced into prostitution, where she died of std’s and alcoholism. The obsession with Saartije lasted after her death as well. For more than 100 years, visitors and “scientist” were able to examine her dissected body parts in Paris museums. The 19th century shapewear, the “bustle” was inspired by her in order to give european women her unique physique. Yes, an old school booty pop. On behalf of Nelson Mandela’s request, Paris returned Saartije’s remains to South Africa in 2002. Black men, it’s time that you start respecting the black woman’s body, because this act of objectifying it was taught to you. #sarahbaartman


starbucks (@starbucks) logo traces roots back to Africa.

Info via citizins (@citizins) 

When you see that Starbucks logo, you probably think the same thing as me: “There’s that ‘smiling mermaid’ logo, there must be some good, but overpriced, coffee nearby”. Well what isn’t known to the world is that this is a picture of Yemaya, also know through out West Africa and the Caribbean as Yemoja,Yemowo, Mami Wata, Janaína, LaSiren (in Vodou) is an Orisha – said to be a Goddess of the traditional Yoruba religion that was brought by the enslaved Africans of what is now Nigeria to the west. She is the patron of women, in particular, pregnant women. When slaves were transported across the ocean, it was said to be Yemaya who protected them on their journey and kept them safe. She is kind and giving. She takes a long time to anger but when she does, watch out, you have a hurricane on your hands. She is said to be the “mother whose children number as the fish in the sea” and that is why she is presented as a two-tailed mermaid.Yemaya is said to bring forth and protect life through all the highs and lows, even during the worst atrocities that can be suffered. She reminds women to take time out for themselves, to nurture their own needs and to respect their deserved position in life.

Happy Black History month everyone!


Africans were performing many advanced medical procedures long before they had been conceived in Europe this is just one of many examples.

The British traveler R.W. Felkin who reported this noted that the healer used banana wine to semi-intoxicate the woman and to cleanse his hands and her abdomen prior to surgery. He used a midline incision and applied cautery to minimize hemorrhaging. He massaged the uterus to make it contract but did not suture it; the abdominal wound was pinned with iron needles and dressed with a paste prepared from roots. The patient recovered well, and Felkin concluded that this technique was well-developed and had clearly been employed for a long time. Similar reports come from Rwanda, where botanical preparations were also used to anesthetize the patient and promote wound healing.

Reference: “Notes on Labour in Central Africa” published in the Edinburgh Medical Journal, volume 20, April 1884, pages 922-930.

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Every black child in grade school is taught Adolph Hitler killed six million Jews and is the worst human being that ever lived. On the other hand our children are taught “The Right Honorable” Cecil Rhodes the founder of the De Beer diamond company in South Africa who killed ten times that number of Africans is a hero and a statesman and if they study hard and do well in school they may be eligible to win Rhodes Scholarships the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship awards in the world. They don’t mention the scholarships are paid for with the blood of their ancestors.

If you don’t know your history, you can expect to continue to be a fool, used and abused by the oppressor.  



Yasuke African Samurai of the Japanese Warlord Nobunaga Oda.

“Japan is not a place one would usually associate with immigrants from Africa or the Caribbean. Yet in the late 16th century Japan’s most powerful warlord, Oda Nobunaga, had a African page named Yasuke it is belived that Yasuke was either a Makua originally from Mozambique or from somewhere in the Congo region. Yasuke was not only a cultural curiosity but also served as Nobunaga’s bodyguard and was granted the prestigious rank of Samurai.

Yasuke arrived in Japan in 1579 as the servant of the Italian Jesuit Alessandro Valignano, who had been appointed the Visitor (inspector) of the Jesuit missions in the Indies, i.e. S. and E. Asia, an extremely high position, so Yasuke must have been quite trustworthy. He accompanied Valignano when the latter came to the capital area in March 1581 and caused something of a sensation. In one event, several people were crushed to death while clamouring to get a look at him. Nobunaga heard about him and expressed a desire to see him. Suspecting the black color of his skin to be paint, Nobunaga had him strip from the waist up and made him scrub his skin.

 We do not know this Yasuke’s original Makua name but the Japanese called him Yasuke (彌介), the reason for this name is unknown as it does not have a clear meaning and that it is most likely a “Japanization” of his actual name. 

He was apparently 6ft 2in and would have towered over the Japanese of the day. Nobunaga first heard of Yasuke when the news reached him in 1581 of the great crush that had occurred when Valignano had brought him to Kyoto where his skin colour and height attracted a huge crowd. Nobunaga ordered the Jesuit to bring Yasuke to his court so that he could see this sensation in the flesh.

Upon seeing Yasuke, Nobunaga allegedly ordered him stripped to the waist and scrubbed believing that his skin was painted.  Japanese sources described Yasuke as “looking between the age of 24 or 25, black like an ox, healthy and good looking, and possessing the strength of 10 men. Nobunaga was further intrigued by the fact that Yasuke could speak Japanese (albeit not perfectly) and ordered Valignano to leave Yasuke in his care when the Jesuit prepared to leave again.

Yasuke became a permanent fixture in Nobunaga’s retinue, his size and strength acting as a deterrent to assassination not to mention a flavour of exoticism to accompany the warlord’s other Western possessions. Apparently Nobunaga became so fond of Yasuke that rumours abounded that the slave was going to be made a Daimyo (a Japanese land-owning lord). These rumours were proven wrong, however, Yasuke was given the honour of being made a member of the samurai class, a rare honour among foreigners. “ 

Read more here. 

You can read more about Yasuke here:

Important note: Obviously this is not a 16th century photo because there weren’t any cameras back then. The people in this photo were just stage actors who posed for this shot.