Welcome to Murray Avenue's virtual celebration of Black History Month! We invite you to explore these resources as a jumping off point as you reflect on the contribution that Black Americans have made to our collective culture. Click on the arrows to read more about each topic before following the links provided.
Click here to see what's happening in our classrooms (link will be updated throughout February).
Exploring Black History
Black History Mini-Lessons
This Webby award-winning video series made for all ages goes beyond the history book to examine Black history from many angles: telling the story of civil rights icon John Lewis, exploring who the Black Panthers were, examining black feminism, celebrating Hank Aaron's accomplishments, learning about black explorers, welcoming the birth of hip hop and many more topics.
History Told Through Objects
Objects hold history. As part of The Washington Post's coverage of the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American History and Culture, people submitted dozens of objects that make up their own lived experiences of black history, creating a "people's museum" of personal objects, family photos and more.
The Historically Black podcast brings those objects and their stories to life through interviews, archival sound and music. The Washington Post and APM Reports are proud to collaborate in presenting these rich personal histories, along with hosts Keegan-Michael Key, Roxane Gay, Issa Rae and Another Round hosts Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton.
-excerpt from Historically Black by APM
This interactive gives you a sense of the scale of the trans-Atlantic slave trade across 300 years time, as well as the flow of transport and eventual destinations. The dots—which represent individual slave ships—also correspond to the size of each voyage. The larger the dot, the more enslaved people on board. If you pause the map and click on a dot, you’ll learn about the ship’s flag—was it British? Portuguese? French?—its origin point, its destination, and its history in the slave trade.
-excerpt from Slate
Exploring Black History: Culture
Meet Culinary Historian Michael W. Twitty
Michael W. Twitty is a food writer, independent scholar, culinary historian, and historical interpreter personally charged with preparing, preserving and promoting African American foodways and its parent traditions in Africa and her Diaspora and its legacy in the food culture of the American South. His work highlights and addresses food’s critical role in the development and definition of African American civilization and the politics of consumption and cultural ownership that surround it.
-excerpt from Afroculinaria
Take a virtual tour of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History & Culture exhibit on Sports: Leveling the Playing Field. Includes a chat with curator Damion Thomas, Ph.D., a story-mapped timeline of important moments in sports history, images of objects from the exhibition, and additional video.
Exploring Black History: At the Library
Ibram X. Kendi's National Book Award winning book for adults is available as a remix for young readers, co-written with Jason Reynolds, the Library of Congress' national ambassador for young people's literature. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You is available for checkout from the MA Library both as a physical book and as an audiobook (read by the author). The remix insists that it is "not a history book" but rather a resource to build context around the importance of being antiracist in America today.
Join the Murray Avenue Library and #ReadWoke, an initiative started by librarian Cicely Lewis to promote understanding and confront racism by exploring diverse perspectives though fiction. Our collection includes many books recommended by Ms. Lewis and additional titles that tell stories from characters who are traditionally underrepresented in fiction.
Created for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, our Virtual Civil Rights library houses links to titles in our collection as well as biographical information about King and the history of the civil rights movement.
Exploring Black History: Arts & Music
Discover the Origins of Breakdancing
When the culture of hip-hop first began to take shape in the 1970s, it consisted of at least four fundamental elements: deejaying, emceeing, graffiti, and breaking.
Breaking, popularly known as breakdancing today, was created in the Bronx in New York City. The term breakdancing as it’s used in the media often mixes New York’s b-boying and West Coast–developed dance styles like popping, locking, and the electric boogaloo. B-boy dance moves are influenced by a number of cultural sources, including African-American and Afro-Caribbean music, kung fu, and capoeira.
Breaking began as a mode of self-expression; it was a part of a larger culture that reflected the social, economic, and political conditions of the youth at that time.
-excerpt from Vox
The Art of Kehinde Wiley
The works presented in Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic raise questions about race, gender, and the politics of representation by portraying contemporary African American men and women using the conventions of traditional European portraiture.
Wiley's signature portraits of everyday men and women riff on specific paintings by Old Masters, replacing the European aristocrats depicted in those paintings with contemporary black subjects, drawing attention to the absence of African Americans from historical and cultural narratives.
- excerpt from the Brooklyn Museum
Sing the Blues: the Root of All Modern Music
Music educators Nahre and LA explore where the blues came from and how it went on to influence many modern genres of music. From Delta Blues pioneers like Robert Johnson and Son House to Chicago Blues icons like Muddy Waters and B.B. King. They breakdown how this genre can be heard in everything from heavy metal to country music. Then they take the elements of the blues to create their own unique track.
-excerpt from Sound Field
The Jazz Roots of Modern Hip-hop
From NPR’s Jazz Night in America, pianist Robert Glasper shares how jazz samples were honored and transformed as hip hop source material, connecting the two genres across generations. Colorful visuals help guide viewers through the audio tour.
The Chicago Children's Choir will host its annual Black History Month Concert virtually. The choir showcases young people from every zip code in Chicago. Selected music celebrates Black culture and explores how music preserves African traditions while inspiring hope and perseverance across centuries of injustice. The event is free and will livestream on the choir's YouTube page in addition to their website on February 26th at 7 pm EST.
"Lift Every Voice and Sing" is a hymn with lyrics by James Weldon Johnson and set to music by his brother, J. Rosamond Johnson. After its first recitation in 1900, "Lift Every Voice and Sing" was communally sung within Black communities, while the NAACP began to promote the hymn as a "Negro national anthem" in 1917.