MEdia LIbrArY

African American Women's Army Corps members at the Staten Island Terminal, New York Port of Embarkation, in March of 1946. (Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division/NYPL Digital Collections)
Black Experience in History and Memory
History, for Black people in the United States, is and always has been deeply charged and highly contested. The Middle Passage and centuries of slavery created a rupture in the transmission of cultural memory and related practices that would have connected the descendants of captive Africans with their ancestral past. This trauma was compounded by racist laws and customs that left the lives of the enslaved documented poorly, if at all. From the colonial period until well into the twentieth century, white people in power generally recorded those aspects of Black existence that were deemed economically or politically profitable (such as gender, purchase price, or demographic numbers), while Black people were widely denied the literacy, resources, or access necessary to maintain thorough records of their own. Until as recently as fifty years ago, the nation’s history was primarily taught and promoted as a narrative constructed by, for, and about the most powerful members of the populace, in which Black people (and Black women in particular) appeared rarely, except in the most negative light. — From the essay by Evie Shockley
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Black Experience in History and Memory

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