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The Origins of Hip Hop: James Brown

Here is a discussion of the music, biography and inspirations of the one-and-only James Brown; the legendary African American soul and funk singer – who has been invariably called the ‘Godfather of Soul’, ‘Soul Brother Number One’, ‘Mr. Dynamite’, and the ‘Hardest Working Man in Show Business’.

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Native Sons of Liberty

Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the editor in chief of The Oxford African American Studies Center. In this New York Times op-ed, Dr. Gates uses a little-known story about the Revolutionary War to demonstrate the role of black patriots in the birth of our nation: ON June 11, 1823, a man named John Redman […]

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In the beginning: hip hop’s early influences

In the mid-1970s the cultural shockwave known as hip hop emerged from the economic paralysis of New York City, especially the neglected neighborhoods in the Bronx. However, while hip hop music was born in New York, it speaks to a long line of black American and African diasporic cultural traditions.

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Oxford African American Studies Center

Women & Literature: Alice Walker

Like all of her heroines, Alice Walker is herself an agent of change. Walker once said that the best role model is someone who is always changing. Instead of desiring a long shelf life, Walker asserts that she wants to remain fresh. This commitment to fluidity and evolution characterizes both her life and her work.

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Oxford African American Studies Center

William Sanders Scarborough and the enduring legacy of black classical scholarship

The American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA) was founded in 1881 as a place “where young scholars might carry on the study of Greek thought and life to the best advantage.” Today, the ASCSA is a center for research and teaching on all aspects of Greece, from antiquity to the present. Its campus in Athens […]

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Black History Month: a reading list

February marks the celebration of Black History Month in the United States and Canada, an annual celebration of achievements by Black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S history. Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life, which initiated the first variation of Black History month, titled, Negro History Week in 1926 during the second week of February. The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History expanded the February celebration in the early 1970’s, renaming it Black History Month, however, it was not until 1976 that every president designated the month of February as Black History Month.

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Women artists in conversation: Tiff Massey Q&A [Part II]

Tiff Massey is a young artist whose work ranges from wearable sculpture to large-scale public interventions. In the first of this two-part interview, Massey spoke with Benezit Dictionary of Art editor Kathy Battista about her work as well as her vision for bringing art education to underserved areas of Detroit. In the second part of the interview, Massey speaks about her influences and beginnings as an artist.

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Social Work

Solution building for student success

Teachers, administrators, and school social workers also prepare for a fresh start with new students and ideas to engage in another year of educational and developmental learning. Unfortunately, as the school year progresses, the new beginning and excitement can give way to complacency, frustration, and sometimes hopelessness. The reality for students who are disengaged from school, as well as those who experience significant academic and behavioral issues, is a season of uncertainty, diminished expectations, and possibly serious life outcomes that are just beginning.

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Solutions to reduce racial mistrust in medicine

Black women in the United States have about a 41% higher chance of dying from breast cancer than white women. Some of that disparity can be linked to genetics, but the environment, lingering mistrust toward the health care system, and suspicion over prescribed breast cancer treatment also play roles, according to a new study from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

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Words of 2015 round-up

Word of the Year season has closed with the selections of the American Dialect Society this past weekend, so it’s time to reflect on the different words of the 2015. The refugee crisis and gender politics have featured prominently in selections around the globe as well as the influence of technology.

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A profile of Zelda Wynn Valdes: costume and fashion designer

In this interview with Professor Nancy Deihl, Master Teacher of Costume Studies at New York University, we look back in history to discuss and discover the life and accomplishments of Zelda Wynn Valdes, celebrity dressmaker and designer of the original Playboy bunny costume.

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The causes and consequences of the 2011 London riots

During the London riots in August 2011, the police lost control of parts of the city for four days, and thousands of people took part in destruction and looting that resulted in property damage estimated at least $50 million. A recent article in Social Forces examines the residential address of 1,620 rioters — who were arrested and charged in the London riots, to investigate potential explanations for rioting.

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Reflections on the ‘urge to collect’

In the most recent issue of the Oral History Review, Linda Shopes started an important discussion about changes she has seen in the field of oral history in “‘Insights and Oversights’: Reflections on the Documentary Tradition and the Theoretical Turn in Oral History”. Linda’s article sparked many interesting arguments on curation versus collection, critical analysis versus volume, and framing individual experiences in wider contexts. Below, we bring to you a continuation of this conversation through an email interview.

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Four remarkable figures in Black History

Given the scope and the length of time I’ve been working on the African American National Biography (over 13 years and counting), selecting just a few biographies that were somehow “representative” of the overall project would have been an impossible task. Instead, working with The Root’s managing editor, Lyne Pitts, I chose four entries that showcased some of the diversity of the collection, but focused on hidden or barely remembered figures in black history.

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