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“Madame C.J. Walker…with her niece Anjetta Breedlove, Alice Kelby and Lucy Flint, forewoman and secretary at the Madame C.J. Company.”

Madame C.J. Walker was born 146 years ago today on December 23, 1867. In 1906, Walker and her husband moved from Louisiana to Colorado, where she started making and marketing hair products for African-American women. Walker’s products included the “Wonderful Hair Grower” and the hot comb.  

Walker broke many new grounds during her lifetime. She became the first woman to sell products via mail order; the first woman to have her own beauty school, and the first to have chain of beauty parlors throughout the United States, South America, and the Caribbean. In 1914, Walker’s company grossed more than a million dollars. Not only was she the first African-American millionaire, Walker also became the first self-made female millionaire. For more information on Madame C.J. Walker and her legacy, visit Digital Schomburg.

Photo Credit: NYPL Digital Collection 

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These are pages from various editions of the “Green Book,” a travel guide for African-American travelers during the Jim Crow era. Car travel started to flourish in the mid-20th century, it was nearly impossible in some areas to find hotels, restaurants and even gas stations that would serve black Americans. 

The Green Book was published almost every year from 1936 to 1966. This year, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at New York Public Library digitized its collection, making the Green Books accessible to younger generations that have never seen them.

Images courtesy of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

What is the legacy of Jim Crow? On April 15, a trio of leading social-justice activists discuss the laws in conjunction with the exhibition One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North. The event features Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Director, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Sherrilyn Ifill, President, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; and Cornell Brooks, President and CEO, NAACP. 

[Jacob Lawrence. The Migration Series. 1940-41. Panel 22: “Another of the social causes of the migrants’ leaving was that at times they did not feel safe, or it was not the best thing to be found on the streets late at night. They were arrested on the slightest provocation.” Casein tempera on hardboard, 18 x 12″ (45.7 x 30.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mrs. David M. Levy. © 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Digital image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY]

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Talks at the Schomburg: Piercing The Veil 

via Schomburg Center

“Learn more about our fall exhibition, “Unveiling Visions: The Alchemy of the Black Imagination,” through a special artist talk and presentation with James Cornelius Lewis and Manzel Bowman.

This conversation was facilitated by Stacey Robinson”


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On this day, 52 years ago, Frantz Fanon passed away. A psychiatrist, Pan-Africanist, writer, and revolutionary, he was born in Martinique in 1925. In 1952 he published “Black Skin, White Masks,” which exposed the negative effects of colonization on the mental state of subjugated people. As a psychiatrist in Algeria, he joined the FLN (National Liberation Front), which waged a war of independence against France. In 1961, Fanon published The Wretched of the Earth, a book on decolonization that has remained a classic and has influenced revolutionaries the world over, including Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, Che Guevara, and Steve Biko, founder of the Black Consciousness movement. Fanon died in Maryland, where he had sought treatment for leukemia, and was buried in Algeria.

Photo Credit: NYPL

Image engraving of Vincent Ogé 

“Vincent Ogé (1755-1791) was a wealthy free man of color from Saint-Domingue. Along with Julien Raimond, another planter and slaveholder, he worked closely with la Societe des amis des noirs (Society of the Friends of the Blacks) in Paris, which asked for equal rights for free people of color, the immediate abolition of the slave trade, and a gradual abolition of slavery. Ogé returned to Saint-Domingue to demand that the white colonists give the free people of color the rights that had been granted by France a few months earlier. He warned that he was ready to use force. After a fight, he and his followers took refuge in the Spanish part of Hispaniola. They were handed back to the colonists. Ogé and his companion Jean-Baptiste Chavanne were broken on the wheel, a horrendous torture, on February 25, 1791. The martyr of Ogé and Chavanne convinced free blacks that only force could guarantee their rights and they allied themselves with the enslaved when the uprising broke out in August.” 

(Content and Image Source: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture)

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Watch: Civil rights leaders from Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the NAACP discuss how Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series, currently on view at MoMA, relates to events today. 

On August 30, 1983, Dr. Guion Stewart “Guy” Bluford, Jr. became the first African American in space.

Bluford, pictured, had earned his M.S. and PhD in aerospace engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology. He flew the space shuttle, performed various experiments and aided in the launch of a $45 million weather and communications satellite for India. During this first mission with more to come, launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, Bluford received a call from Ronald Reagan in which he said, “You will serve as a role model for so many others and be so inspirational.”

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SCHOMBURG CENTER FOR RESEARCH IN BLACK CULTURE

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is a research unit of The New York Public…

Please follow the Schomburg Center’s Tumblr! The work of the Schomburg Center is essential to the global Black community. 

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture located in Harlem, New York is a research unit of The New York Public Library system. It is recognized as one of the leading institutions focusing exclusively on African-American, African Diaspora, and African experiences. Begun with the collections of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg more than 85 years ago, the Schomburg has collected, preserved, and provided access to materials documenting black life—in America and worldwide. It has also promoted the study and interpretation of the history and culture of peoples of African descent. Today, the Schomburg continues to serve the community not just as a center and a library, but also as a space that encourages lifelong education and exploration. Source

July 13: Arva R. Rice of the New York Urban League​ and Dr. Khalil Muhammad of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture discuss how artist Jacob Lawrence worked with civil rights organizations and cultural institutions to portray and address social inequalities.

[The New York Urban League. Image courtesy the NYUL]

Conversations in #BlackFreedomStudies: “#MalcolmX & #BlackRadicalWomen”
50th Anniversary of the Assassination of #MalcolmX
Presented by the schomburgcenter
Thursday, February 5 | 6PM
Schomburg Center | 515 Malcolm X Blvd New York, NY 
Admission: FREE 
To register, visit eventbrite.com/e/conversations-in-black-freedom-studies-50th-anniversary-of-the-assassination-of-malcolm-x-malcolm-x-tickets-15182803173?

Malcolm X was assassinated 50 years ago in February 1965. Women such as Betty Shabazz, Queen Mother Moore, Vicki Garvin, Yuri Kochiyama, Mae Mallory, Abbey Lincoln, Maya Angelou and Gloria Richardson were among the first and foremost to establish February as a month to remember Malcolm X’s sacrifices for Black Liberation and had been key to Malcolm X’s developing political vision before he was killed. However, in those fifty years, scholars have habitually neglected the role that such women played in drafting blueprints for the Black Power Generation.Please join Gloria Richardson, Rosemary Mealy and Komozi Woodard in an important discussion of that central yet neglected role that women played in the radicalization of Malcolm X. 

 Books for the Conversations in Black Freedom Studies series are available for purchase in the Schomburg Shop! Visit us and read up in advance!Like Schomburg Education on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @SchomburgEd & visit our new website www.blackfreedomstudies.org

“We prefer poverty in liberty than riches in slavery.”

- Ahmed Sekou Toure

On October 2, 1958, the Republic of Guinea, under Ahmed Sekou Toure, gained independence from France. Toure, pictured, became the Republic of Guinea’s first president. 

Read more about the Guinea independence here.

Image Source: Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library

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Building A Vibrant Black LGBT Community: Using Kwanzaa Principles Every Day
Tuesday, December 2, 2014 6:30 PM to 10:00 PM
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture/The New York Public Library
515 Malcolm X Boulevard, Harlem NYC 10037

The Nguzo Saba, Seven Principles of Kwanzaa:

  1. Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  2. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
  3. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together.
  4. Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
  5. Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness
  6. Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
  7. Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle. 

reflect important principles of community development and sustainability.

LGBT/SGL (Same Gender Loving) people of African Descent face significant challenges to our health, well being and prosperity. As people who are marginalized in society along multiple lines (e.g., ethnicity, sexuality, and gender), we are disproportionately affected by structural violence, inequality, and community vulnerabilities. But our location in Black Communities positions us well to generate solutions and be the change we want to see in the world.

This panel discussion and community forum will bring together members of our community from grassroots/community organizing, non-profits, foundations, government and academic to discuss how we can use the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa to further community mobilization, organizing and development as well as life outcomes for all members of our community. Free! Register Here

Panelists Include:

Moderated by:

To observe the 150th anniversary of the Preliminary Emancipation and its exhibition Sept 21-24 at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the document came to conservation for examination and treatment.  A NARA senior conservator completed conservation treatment including careful surface cleaning of the pages to reduce ingrained grime, reduction of adhesive residues from old repairs, and reinforcing previously-repaired tears and creases.