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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.

Read More
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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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Cape Verdean music and musicians

By Terza S. Lima-Neves
For a relatively unknown small island nation in West Africa with a population of half a million people, Cape Verde enjoys a rich and lively music scene. This archipelago of ten islands and former Portuguese colony is a nation historically affected by drought and famine, leading to a very sizable global immigrant community. Many of Cape Verde’s musicians either live abroad or were born in countries such as Portugal or the United States, the host country of the largest community of Cape Verdeans outside of Cape Verde.

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An Interview with Fredrick C. Harris

Dr. Fredrick C. Harris is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center on African-American Politics and Society (CAAPS) at Columbia University. He is the author of several books, including his latest, The Price of the Ticket: Barack Obama and the Rise and Decline of Black Politics. In it, he argues that the election of Obama exacted a heavy cost on black politics. In short, Harris argues that Obama became the first African American President by denying that he was the candidate of African Americans, thereby downplaying many of the social justice issues that have traditionally been a part of black political movements. In this interview, Harris discusses his findings with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

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Remembering the Los Angeles Riots

By Adam Rosen
Sunday, April 29 marks the twentieth anniversary of one of the grimmest episodes in modern American history. For nearly five days, parts of Los Angeles transformed into a free-for-all where looting, gun battles, and arson proceeded without challenge by the city’s authorities. Only after U.S. President George H.W. Bush commanded 3,000 soldiers to occupy the city was order restored. By that time, 53 people had been killed, an estimated $ 1 billion worth of property had been destroyed, and the tenuous thread that held American race relations together had been all but severed.

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