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Origins of hip hop: “If I stop, I’ll die.”

Today we’ll look at the spoken word roots of hip hop by examining the life and career of one of the greatest stand-up comedians of all time; Richard Pryor. Here is the entry on Richard Pryor from upcoming eight-volume ‘African American National Biography’.

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Origins of hip hop: Ice-T and “Cop Killer”

In this post, we look at rapper Ice-T, and his influence on the development of hip hop. A prolific and outspoken Rap artist, Ice-T helped pioneer the ‘gangsta’ musical style, in which the turmoil of urban street life is exposed through blunt, explicit lyrics and a bass-heavy, fluid musical style.

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The origins of hip hop: Iceberg Slim

Today, we’ll look at one of the literary forerunners of the hip hop revolution; Iceberg Slim. Slim’s works are marked by a criticism of American justice, devotion to the politics of the Black Panthers, frank language, and a combination of violence and sexuality. They remain influential to this day.

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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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A Florence Price mystery solved (part two)

To my knowledge, Price’s Boston address remained inconclusive until I visited Special Collections at the University of Arkansas Mullins Library this past January to find new leads for the Price biography I am co-authoring with Samantha Ege, the Lord Crewe Junior Research Fellow in Music at Lincoln College, Oxford. The recovery of this information fills a void in a life story for which “the necessary evidence to write a detailed biography,” as preeminent Price scholar Rae Linda Brown once put it, “is surprisingly scant.”

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Oxford University Press logo

A Florence Price mystery solved (part one)

To my knowledge, Price’s Boston address remained inconclusive until I visited Special Collections at the University of Arkansas Mullins Library this past January to find new leads for the Price biography I am co-authoring with Samantha Ege, the Lord Crewe Junior Research Fellow in Music at Lincoln College, Oxford. The recovery of this information fills a void in a life story for which “the necessary evidence to write a detailed biography,” as preeminent Price scholar Rae Linda Brown once put it, “is surprisingly scant.”

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Oxford African American Studies Center

Women & Literature: Zora Neale Hurston

Susan Butterworth discusses the life and legacy of Zora Neale Hurston. A vibrant figure of the Harlem Renaissance, a fertile interpreter of black folklore, and a lyrical writer – Hurston had a fascinating career. By the time of her death however, she had sadly disappeared into poverty and obscurity.

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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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