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From segregation to the Supreme Court: the life and work of Thurgood Marshall

Marshall (2017) recounts one of the most contentious Supreme Court cases in American history, represented by Thurgood Marshall, who would later serve as the first African American Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Directed by Reginald Hudlin, with Chadwick Boseman playing the title role, the film establishes Marshall’s greatest legal triumph, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, in which the Court declared the laws allowing for separate but equal public facilities (including public schools) inherently unconstitutional. The case, handed down on 17 May 1954, signalled the end of racial segregation in America and the beginning of the American civil rights movement. In 2013, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Editor in Chief of the Oxford African American Studies Center, spoke with Larry S. Gibson, Professor of Law at the University of Maryland, whose book Young Thurgood: The Making of a Supreme Court Justice recounts the personal and public events that shaped Marshall’s work.

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5 Guys and a Girl pick their all-time favorite NBA All-Stars

As the city buzzes around us in preparation for the 2015 NBA All-Star Weekend, hosted jointly by the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, we caught up with a few of our office’s basketball fans to reflect on their all-time favorite NBA All-Stars — and their entries in the Oxford African American Studies Center. Without further ado, Oxford University Press New York’s 5 Guys and a Girl weigh in

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Jim Downs on the Emancipation Proclamation

The editors of the Oxford African American Studies Center spoke to Professor Jim Downs, author of Sick From Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction, about the legacy of the Emancipation Proclamation 150 years after it was first issued. We discuss the health crisis that affected so many freedpeople after emancipation, current views of the Emancipation Proclamation, the reception of Professor Downs’s book, and the insights the book can give us into the public health crises of today.

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Congratulations, young historians

In an effort to broaden its outreach to American high schools, the Oxford African American Studies Center, in conjunction with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, initiated a research project competition exclusively for high school students in the Fall of 2010. Participating students researched and wrote biographies on prominent African Americans, with the top articles being selected for publication in the online African American National Biography.

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Exploring the seven principles of Kwanzaa: a playlist

Beginning the 26th of December, a globe-spanning group of millions of people of African descent will celebrate Kwanzaa, the seven-day festival of communitarian values created by scholar Maulana Karenga in 1966. The name of the festival is adapted from a Swahili phrase that refers to “the first fruits,” and is meant to recall ancient African harvest celebrations.

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Defiant rulers and (real) superheroes: Black History Month

The first incarnation of Black History Month began in 1926, when Carter G. Woodson, historian and author, established an observance during the second week of February coinciding with the birthdays of social reformer Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. The month-long celebration was then proposed at Kent State University, Ohio, in February 1969, beginning the following year.

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Getting to know Reference Editor Robert Repino

In an effort to introduce readers to our global staff and life here at Oxford University Press, we are excited to bring you an interview with Robert Repino, an editor in the reference department. His debut novel, Mort(e), will publish in January with Soho Press.

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Discussing Josephine Baker with Anne Cheng

By Tim Allen
Josephine Baker, the mid-20th century performance artist, provocatrix, and muse, led a fascinating transatlantic life. I recently had the opportunity to pose a few questions to Anne A. Cheng, Professor of English and African American Literature at Princeton University and author of the book Second Skin: Josephine Baker & the Modern Surface, about her research into Baker’s life, work, influence, and legacy.

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Dirty South hip hop and societal ills in the former Confederacy

Dirty South hip hop refers to a gritty rap culture first developed in the southern United States during the 1980s and the 1990s. Goodie Mob, an eccentric quartet from Atlanta, Georgia, titled a 1995 single “Dirty South” in order to shed light on myriad societal ills in the former Confederacy, where ethnic prejudice and racism seemed to be perennial sicknesses.

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The Black Book: Phillis Wheatley and the information revolution

By Richard Newman
The noble ideal of Black History Month is that by extracting and examining key people and moments in the African American grain, we learn much about black achievement. But it is equally powerful to set black history in the grand swirl of events to see the many ways that African-Americans have impacted the nation’s political and cultural development.

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Osagie K. Obasogie speaks with Skip Gates about colorblindness and race

Osagie K. Obasogie, J.D., Ph.D., is Professor of Law at the University of California, Hastings with a joint appointment at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. His first book, Blinded By Sight: Seeing Race Through the Eyes of the Blind, was recently published by Stanford University Press and his second book on the past, present, and future of bioethics is under contract with the University of California Press.

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Escape Plans: Solomon Northup and Twelve Years a Slave

By Daniel Donaghy
During the movie awards season, Steve McQueen’s new film 12 Years a Slave will inspire discussions about its realistic depiction of slavery’s atrocities (Henry Louis Gates Jr. has already called it, “most certainly one of the most vivid and authentic portrayals of slavery ever captured in a feature film.”) and the points at which the film most clearly reflects and departs from Solomon Northup’s original narrative.

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Exploring the seven principles of Kwanzaa: a playlist

Beginning the 26th of December, a globe-spanning group of millions of people of African descent will celebrate Kwanzaa, the seven-day festival of communitarian values created by scholar Maulana Karenga in 1966. The name of the festival is adapted from a Swahili phrase that refers to “the first fruits,” and is meant to recall ancient African harvest celebrations.

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‘Ebonics’ in flux

By Tim Allen
On this day forty years ago, the African American psychologist Robert Williams coined the term “Ebonics” during an education conference held at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri. At the time, his audience was receptive to, even enthusiastic about, the word. But invoke the word “Ebonics” today and you’ll have no trouble raising the hackles of educators, journalists, linguists, and anyone else who might have an opinion about how people speak.

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