Oh my body, make of me a man who always questions! —
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks
Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief. — Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks
On this day, 52 years ago, Frantz Fanon passed away. A psychiatrist, Pan-Africanist, writer, and revolutionary, he was born in Martinique in 1925. In 1952 he published “Black Skin, White Masks,” which exposed the negative effects of colonization on the mental state of subjugated people. As a psychiatrist in Algeria, he joined the FLN (National Liberation Front), which waged a war of independence against France. In 1961, Fanon published The Wretched of the Earth, a book on decolonization that has remained a classic and has influenced revolutionaries the world over, including Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, Che Guevara, and Steve Biko, founder of the Black Consciousness movement. Fanon died in Maryland, where he had sought treatment for leukemia, and was buried in Algeria.
Photo Credit: NYPL
In Memoriam: Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)
"It always seems impossible until it’s done."—Nelson Mandela
When he died on December 5, 1870, Alexandre Dumas left behind an illustrious body of prose and plays, which were published during his lifetime. Dumas is best known for his historical novels The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Man in the Iron Mask, and Vicomte de Bragelonne, to name a few. His work is read throughout the world, and has been translated into nearly 100 languages, making Dumas the most widely read French author in the world. Many of Dumas’ works are available online as ebooks via NYPL. To learn more about Alexander Dumas, his work, and how he inspired Haitian and American political revolt visit the Digital Schomburg.
Photo Credit: NYPL Digital Collection
Frederick Douglass published the first issue of The North Star on November 3, 1847. The North Star was an abolitionist newspaper; however, it also served as a platform to advocate for the rights of women and other oppressed and disenfranchised groups. This mission was reinforced by the paper’s motto: “Right is of no Sex - Truth is of no Color - God is the Father of us all, and we are all brethren.” The North Star was renamed Frederick Douglass’s Paper in 1951. Issues of the The North Star from December 03, 1847 to April 17, 1851 can be accessed online while on-site at a New York Public Library.
Photo Credit: The Library of Congress
On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks defied the Montgomery Alabama segregated transportation ordinance, igniting a 382-day bus boycott and launching the Civil Rights Movement in America. Read about how “the black freedom movement raised a collective call of ‘no more!’” via Digital Schomburg.
Jimi Hendrix was one of the best electric guitarists and most influential musicians of the ‘60s—a period of counterculture revolution and social movements across America. His music was psychedelic rock tinged with electric blues, and he was very innovative in his choice of tools and techniques (he utilized stereophonic phasing effects, guitar amp feedback, and playing with his teeth!). He is one, in a long line of gifted African-American musicians, whose music has exploded genres and revolutionized pop culture. Born November 27, 1942, Jimi Hendrix would have been 71 today.
Photo Credit: Mirjoran
On December 9 at 6:30 p.m. join noted composer and librettist Nkeiru Okoye, a native New Yorker of African American and Nigerian descent, as she presents scenes from her new folk opera Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom, which tells the personal, family story of the legendary Underground Railroad conductor.
Tickets start at $8 and all ages are welcome!
Are you excited for the holidays? Looking for delicious vintage deserts to bake for your family and friends? Grab a copy of The Brown Betty Cookbook: Modern Vintage Desserts and Stories from Philadelphia’s Best Bakery. This brand new book has been placed on the shelf just in time for Thanksgiving! The cookbook is based on the recipes of the Brown Betty Boutique, a bakery that opened up in Philadelphia when three generations of African-American women came together to share their delectable treats. The Jean Blackwell Hutson Reference and Research Division invites you to explore these amazing recipes that can be found in our collection! The women of the Brown Betty Boutique share both their stories and their recipes, leaving room for big appetites between the pages. Make sure you make your way over to the Schomburg to jot down a few recipes before Turkey Day!
Come out to the Schomburg Center for a Hip-Hop History Workshop: DJing with DJ Wiz on Saturday November 23, 2013 from 4 - 6 P.M! During your visit, pick up a copy of Groove Music: the Art and Culture of the Hip-Hop DJ by Mark Katz which can be found in our collection through the Jean Blackwell Hutson General Research and Reference Division. After the workshop you can explore historical perspectives of the turntable. He gives an outline of the history of DJing from its beginnings in the late 1970s in Bronx, New York. Along with his own personal accounts, you can see interviews from practicing DJs about their place in hip-hop, gender and race politics in the world of DJing, and ideas about digital technology in relationship to music. Don’t miss out on this amazing workshop and a chance to read Katz’s incredible book.
I was in the third grade. I watched it on TV. I sat on the floor in front of the TV and watched my mother cry. This was 1963, we were one of the very few Black families that lived in White Plains, NY at the time. I will never forget seeing John John salute the casket and I thought that Jackie Kennedy was so beautiful on the day she paid her respects to her husband. I was so young I didn’t really understand all that was happening, but I knew the world would be different after that. —
On November 22, 1963, the nation was stunned by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. To share your story of where you (or friends and family) were during this tragic time, visit the submission form on our Facebook page.
Don’t miss "Dearest Jackie": On the Death of JFK, a pop-up exhibition of items from the Library’s collections, on view through December 1, 2013
Clear Names for the Last ‘Scottsboro Boys’ -
The last of the nine black men falsely convicted of raping two white women in 1931 died years ago, but the case long hung over the state.
On November 20, 1695, Zumbi, leader of the Afro-Brazilian Quilombo dos Palmares, a maroon settlement, was killed in ambush. A Quilombo was a free settlement of escaped slaves, and it sustained itself by sabotaging plantations or capturing slaves and forcing them to join. Quilombo Dos Palmares was a self-sustaining settlement in Brazil which, at its peak, had approximately 30,000 members. Zumbi was the last of its leaders and fought the Portuguese military with enough prowess to elude them for two years after Dos Palmares was taken over. The Portuguese feared Zumbi not only as a physical threat (he was a descendent of Angolan Imbangala warriors, and was believed to be immortal), but also as a leader who could undoubtedly inspire slaves and runaways alike to fight for their freedom. He is a symbol of resistance against all the madness of New World dominance: slavery, colonial exploitation, and domination. He fought for freedom in the 17th century, was a hero for the 20th century Afro-Brazilian political movement, and still inspires today.
Photo Credit: Gonzalo Rivero
This weekend, the Schomburg Junior Scholars went on a field trip to Washington, D.C. to walk in the footsteps of the youth activists who filled the National Mall 50 years ago for the March on Washington. In buses labelled SCLC, CORE, SNCC, and Dream Defenders, we studied then SNCC chairman John Lewis’ unedited speech written for the event, and watched Civil Rights films from the period.
In D.C., the visited the Newseum to learn about the role of media in the shaping of the Movement, and we marched down the mall from the Capitol Building, past the Washington Monument to the MLK, Jr. Memorial. What a time it was! The Junior Scholars will report out about what they gained in knowledge and in brother/sisterhood from the trip. Stay tuned for more.
Photo by Terrence Jennings