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Library Acquires African-American Oral History Video Collection

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The HistoryMakers Archive Documents Black America’s Legacy

The Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, announced today the donation of a video archive of thousands of hours of interviews—The HistoryMakers—that captures African-American life, history and culture as well as the struggles and achievements of the black experience.

“The HistoryMakers archive provides invaluable first-person accounts of both well-known and unsung African-Americans, detailing their hopes, dreams and accomplishments—often in the face of adversity,” said Billington. “This culturally important collection is a rich and diverse resource for scholars, teachers, students and documentarians seeking a more complete record of our nation’s history and its people.”

“The HistoryMakers represents the single largest archival project of its kind since the Works Progress Administration’s initiative to document the experiences of former slaves in the 1930s,” said Julieanna Richardson, founder and executive director of The HistoryMakers. “This relationship with the Library of Congress represents a momentous occasion for our organization. With the Library of Congress serving as our permanent repository, we are assured of its preservation and safekeeping for generations to come.”

The collection includes 9,000 hours of content that includes 14,000 analog tapes, 3,000 DVDs, 6,000 born-digital files, 70,000 paper documents and digital files and more than 30,000 digital photographs. The HistoryMakers has provided the Library with digital files of all of the analog tapes.

The collection comprises 2,600 videotaped interviews with African-Americans in 39 states, averaging three to six hours in length. The videos are grouped by 15 different subject areas ranging from science, politics and the military to sports, music and entertainment. For example, the ScienceMakers category currently features 211 top black scientists—about six percent of the interviews—in the fields of chemistry, engineering, physics, biology, electronics, anthropology, aerospace, mathematics and genetics, among other scientific professions. The percentages of interviews for the other categories break down as follows: ArtMakers (7 percent), BusinessMakers (12 percent), CivicMakers (13 percent), EducationMakers (17 percent), EntertainmentMakers (3 percent), LawMakers (6 percent), MediaMakers (10 percent), MedicalMakers (4 percent), MilitaryMakers (3 percent), MusicMakers (6 percent), PoliticalMakers (7 percent), ReligionMakers (3 percent), SportsMakers (2 percent) and StyleMakers (1 percent).

“The collection is one of the most well-documented and organized audiovisual collections that the Library of Congress has every acquired,” said Mike Mashon, head of the Library’s Moving Image Section. “It is also one of the first born-digital collections accepted into our nation’s repository.”

Oral histories are continually being added to the growing archive. The oldest person interviewed was Louisiana Hines, who passed away in 2013 at 114. She was one of the iconic “Rosie the Riveter” workers during War World II. One of the youngest is a prima ballerina, Ayisha McMillan, who was 29 at the time of her interview. Some of the other lesser-known participants who have shared their life stories are:

Arthur Burton, Sr.—one of the last surviving Pullman Porters who worked 20 days a month, averaging two hours of sleep a night at half the pay of factory workers.

Amazon Brooks—voted in her first election in 1920, the first year that women were granted the right to vote.

Ann Cooper—President-elect Barack Obama noted that her life exemplified the struggle and hope of the American-American experience in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Junius Gaten—delivered ice on his horse to black activist Ida B. Wells and former black Congressman John Roy Lynch; survived the violent Chicago Race Riot of 1919; and knew Al Capone, Marcus Garvey and Carter G. Woodson.

Judge William H. Murphy, Sr.—the third black student ever enrolled at the University of Maryland Law School.

Judge William Sylvester White—one of the first commissioned black officers in the Navy in 1944. Alonzo Pettie—the oldest living black cowboy.

The collection boasts a long list of notables. They include President Barack Obama when he was an Illinois state senator, General Colin Powell, child advocate Marion Wright Edelman, baseball legend Ernie Banks, entertainer/activist Harry Belafonte, poet/writer Maya Angelou, historian Lerone Bennett, Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke, movie producer Reuben Cannon, historian John Hope Franklin, publisher Earl Graves, singer Isaac Hayes, Attorney General Eric Holder, musician B.B. King, poet Nikki Giovanni and actors Diahann Carroll, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. Interview highlights include:

Leon Branton Jr. on his involvement in the Angela Davis case:

“I can acquit Angela Davis, the black militant, but I cannot acquit Angela Davis, the communist, so communism must not come into this case at all.”

Angela Davis on living in a white household in a black community:

“I was living with a white family in Bedford Stuy, so I was living in a black community with a white family, going to school every day in Greenwich Village. … I think I learned then how to live simultaneously in many different worlds without feeling out of place.”

John H. Johnson on attending DuSable High School in Chicago:

“Nat ‘King’ Cole was at the school at that time and Redd Foxx was at the school. Dorothy Donegan was there. And they all went on to become very well-known. And as a matter of fact, Nat King Cole didn't know he could sing in those days.”

Barack Obama on his earliest memories:

“Lot of my memories have to do with sort of connecting up the struggle for African- American freedom with the struggle for freedom in Africa, and then with my father. I think all those things became connected in my mind, and I suspect had something to do with my interest then in public service and politics and civil-rights law subsequently.”

Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe on playing against Ty Cobb:

“I played against Ty Cobb when he went to Cuba in ’25. … And he tried to steal second, I throwed him out both times. He quit. … He didn't like coloreds. He was a racist.”

Maya Angelou on her childhood:

“I knew that pineapples came from some exotic place like California or Africa or Paris, France. I knew they weren’t from anywhere around Stems. And I would keep that aroma on my hands as long as possible. … I would hold that aroma of pineapples because it was so far away.”

Isaac Hayes on his family’s poverty:

“I had a girlfriend that was two grades ahead of me, and I was so poor I couldn’t take her to the prom … so she broke up with me and somebody else took her to the prom. I didn't have to face embarrassment, ‘I can’t afford to take you.’”

A Harvard-educated lawyer and TV producer, Richardson launched The HistoryMakers, a nonprofit research and educational institution, in July 1999 with the goal of creating an archival collection of 5,000 video oral histories. She and her production team have traveled to more than 380 U.S. cities and towns, Norway and Mexico recording America’s missing stories. In addition to its oral-history online archive, The HistoryMakers has produced educational programs, public events and the annual celebrity interview series—“An Evening With…,”—broadcast nationally on the Public Broadcasting System. Developed in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, The HistoryMakers Digital Archive (www.thehistorymakers.com) has users in 51 countries across the globe from Afghanistan to Norway, Nigeria and China.

The HistoryMakers collection is housed in the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation, a state-of-the-art facility located in Culpeper, Va. Home to nearly 7 million collection items, the Packard Campus is where the nation’s library acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of films, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings (www.loc.gov/avconservation/).

The HistoryMakers is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit educational institution founded in 1999, committed to preserving, developing and providing easy access to an internationally recognized, archival collection of thousands of African-American video oral histories. The HistoryMakers is the single largest archival collection of its kind in the world designed to promote and celebrate the successes and to document movements, events and organizations that are important to the African-American community and to American society.


Dodgers RBI Urban Youth Academy Wins MLB Inaugural Jr. RBI Classic Showcase

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Dodgers RBI Urban Youth Academy and Dodgers RBI Venice Boys and Girls Clubs played in the championship

LOS ANGELES – The Dodgers RBI Urban Youth Academy (UYA) captured the first-ever MLB Jr. RBI Showcase Classic championship with a 18-17 7-inning victory over the Dodgers RBI Venice Boys and Girls Clubs at the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton. Dodgers RBI UYA tied the game at 16-16 in the bottom of the sixth inning with a home run off the bat of Patrick Nova. After Dodgers RBI Venice Boys and Girls Club recaptured the lead in the top of the seventh inning, Dodgers RBI UYA won the championship with a walk-off two-run home run by Vincent Temesvary, his second of the game. Dodgers RBI UYA finished the tournament with a 5-0 record.

The Los Angeles Jr. RBI Classic Showcase, which was co-hosted by the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, began on Friday, May 23 and ended today. Opening ceremonies and a skills clinic was held at Dodger Stadium on Friday and all games were played at the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton. The participating teams took an outing to Angels Stadium yesterday and were housed on the campus of the University of Southern California for the duration of the tournament. The inaugural Jr. RBI showcase included Dodgers RBI which consisted of three separate teams from the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Boys & Girls Clubs of Venice and the City of Los Angeles Rancho Cienega Sports Complex, Angels RBI (Anaheim, CA) and San Diego Padres RBI (San Diego, CA). The round-robin tournament marked the first-ever competitive element of RBI’s younger playing divisions comprised of youngsters ages 11-12.

Dodgers RBI Urban Youth Academy will be recognized at a 2014 Dodgers home game.


National Jazz Museum in Harlem to Honor CCNY, President Coico

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First ‘Jazz and Community Leadership Award,’ to be given June 9, cites ‘outstanding service to Harlem community and support for jazz’

The National Jazz Museum in Harlem (NJMH) will present its first "Jazz and Community Leadership Award" to The City College of New York and CCNY President Lisa S. Coico June 9 at The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College in Manhattan.

The award recognizes President Coico and City College's "unique outstanding service to Harlem and its communities, as well as for the support for jazz and musicians, both of which have been expanded and strengthened under President Coico's tenure," said Jasna Radonjic, the museum's managing director.

The museum introduced the "Jazz and Community Leadership Award" this year to honor individuals or organizations "for their extraordinary leadership in advancing the appreciation, and acceptance of jazz as a major American art form with worldwide significance, and for enduring contributions to Harlem's community quality of life."

The NJMH cited City College for:

Its multi-faceted involvement with jazz and music as reflected in its music curriculum and programs;

Enabling numerous Harlem-connected musicians, many with little or no means, to study in its jazz program because of its uniquely low tuition and high quality of instruction;

Its jazz concerts at Aaron Davis Hall on campus, which is Harlem's premiere performing arts center, where many jazz greats have performed;

The range of its music alumni that includes famed lyricists Ira Gershwin and Yip Harburg and blues historian Marv Goldberg.

President Coico has been a member of NJMH's Board of Trustees since 2011 and, in addition, serves on the Board's development committee.

"It has been my great pleasure as managing director to work with President Coico in her role as a trustee," said Ms. Radonjic. "Her fresh and innovative ideas, can-do-attitude, extraordinary connections in the community and love of jazz and Harlem make her contributions to the museum invaluable."

She lauded President Coico's instrumental role on the development committee in revitalizing NJMH's fundraising efforts, which are crucial for the museum's thriving future. "I have no doubt that, with her help, we will achieve our goal of building a permanent home for jazz in Harlem in the very near future. Our Board of Trustees could not have found a better recipient for our first "Jazz and Community Leadership Award," added Ms. Radonjic.

Also that night, pianist, composer and bandleader McCoy Tyner, will receive NMJH's first annual "Legends of Jazz Award" for outstanding contribution to the development of jazz.

The featured performer at the event will be Tony Award winner and three-time Grammy Award winner singer/actress Dee Dee Bridgewater, a two-time Grammy winner and winner of the 1975 Tony for "best featured actress in a musical" for "The Wiz."

For reservations, call The National Jazz Museum in Harlem at (212) 348-8300 ext. 100.


Civil Rights, Poetry on PBS NewsHour's "Where Poetry Lives"

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Report is the latest in PBS NewsHour’s “Where Poetry Lives” series featuring US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey

The Civil Rights movement was about brave deeds and bold words. Both are explored by US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey and PBS NewsHour Correspondent Jeffrey Brown in the latest of their reports on “Where Poetry Lives”. Their story airs Friday, April 11, 2014.

To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act, Trethewey and Brown join Rep. John Lewis, Myrlie Evers, Rev. Edwin King and a bipartisan group of politicians and activists participating in the annual Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage. The visit was a homecoming of sorts for Trethewey, who grew up in Mississippi, the daughter of a black mother and white father. Her family was targeted by the Ku Klux Klan, and as a young girl, she watched as they burned a cross in her front yard. The experience inspires her poetry and her commitment to social justice, “it is the scaffolding that holds up all the things that I’m concerned about as a poet” and underscored for Trethewey the necessity of American poetry as “a kind of recording of our cultural moment and to record the history of a people.”


Natasha Trethewey reads her poems “Incident,” which recounts the cross burning she witnessed as a child, and “Miscegenation” inspired by her parents' marriage.

Previous reports in the “Where Poetry Lives” series include:

Seattle’s Pongo Teen Writing Project helps homeless and incarcerated teens overcome trauma in their lives by writing from the heart about difficult experiences.

Detroit’s InsideOut Literary Arts Project places professional writers and poets in inner city schools to help children give voice to their often turbulent lives through poetry and writing. Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, uses poems commonly memorized and recited in youth, to bring joy and to trigger long term memories in dementia patients, not just of the poems, but of family members and their own identity.

Dr. Rafael Campo uses poetry to help medical students hone the art of medicine.

PBS NewsHour’s coverage of poetry is funded by the Poetry Foundation. The “Where Poetry Lives” series is a partnership with the Library of Congress’ Poetry and Literature Center. PBS NEWSHOUR is seen by over four million weekly viewers and is also available online, via public radio in select markets and via podcast. The program is produced with WETA Washington, D.C., and in association WNET in New York. Major corporate funding for PBS NewsHour is provided by BAE Systems, BNSF and Charles Schwab with additional support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the J. Paul Getty Trust, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Friends of the NewsHour and others.


5th Annual "Is Hip Hop History?" to be Held Feb. 27 through Feb. 28

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The City College of New York’s Division of Interdisciplinary Studies will host the fifth annual “Is Hip-Hop History?” Conference Feb. 27 through Feb. 28, at the Center for Worker Education (CWE).

This year’s event pays homage to the iconic 1984 hip hop film “Beat Street,” which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. The conference is also part of City College’s Black History Month festivities. Themed the “Return to Beat Street,” this year’s event is using the film for thoughtful reflection, in particular on the historical place of the female emcee.

“Thirty years ago, “Beat Street” made one of the first attempts to dramatize New York City hip hop culture,” said Warren Orange, an academic advisor in the division and conference co-founder. “Part of the movie was at filmed City College, which became one of the crossroads where academia was first introduced to hip hop. We thought it appropriate that “Beat Street” return to City College and a contemporary audience of scholars and hip hop enthusiasts.”

The conference will officially kick off with a screening of “Beat Street” at Aaron Davis Hall on City College’s main campus at W. 135th Street and Convent Avenue, 12 noon – 2 p.m. Thursday, February 27. Mr. Orange, who teaches a class on the History, Culture and Politics of Hip Hop, will host a Q&A session immediately following. The film screening is sponsored by Aaron Davis Hall and is free to students.

Then, the conference will head downtown to CWE, where MC Sha-Rock, the first female emcee and former member of the legendary rap group The Funky 4 +1 More, will deliver the keynote address. A reception will follow the keynote address, and a second screening of “Beat Street,” sponsored by the CWE Office of Student Affairs, will conclude the first day’s events.

On day two, Hip Hop USA, a collective of New York City Subway graffiti legends, street artists and fine urban artist, will produce “From Caves to Subway Cars,” an art exhibition and panel discussion.

To register for the event, visit at http://ishiphophistory5.eventbrite.com/.

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BVN National News Wire