Tag: African History

PBS and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Team Up for 6-Hour Documentary Series “Africa’s Great Civilizations”

(Image via ShadowAndAct.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

According to ShadowAndAct.com, during the Television Critics Association (TCA) winter tour, PBS unveiled that it has teamed up with African-American scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. for a 3-part/6-hour documentary series titled “Africa’s Great Civilizations” which premieres on February 27, promising to bring “little-known yet epic stories to life, detailing African kingdoms and cultures.”

The official summary is as follows: “Henry Louis Gates, Jr. provides a new look from an African perspective at African history, traversing the dawn of mankind to the dawn of the 20th century. The series is a breathtaking and personal journey through history that includes evidence of the earliest human culture and art, arguably the world’s greatest ever civilizations and kingdoms, and some of the world’s earliest writing. Gates travels throughout the vast continent of Africa to discover the true majesty of its greatest civilizations and kingdoms.”

The series will air over 3 nights, Monday-Wednesday, February 27-March 1, from 9-11 p.m. ET each airing.  To see the trailer, click below:


116 Years Ago Today: Historically Black College Langston University was Founded

Langston University was founded in Langston, Oklahoma, on March 12, 1897.  It is Oklahoma’s only historically Black college or university. Because African-Americans were not allowed to attend colleges and universities in the state, the Black settlers of Langston raised the money to build an instruction where their children could learn and grow.  

Originally founded as the Colored Agricultural and Normal University, the school operated with the mission to instruct both male and female students in the fields of agriculture, mechanics and industrial arts. On September 3, 1898, the school officially opened in a Presbyterian church in with an enrollment of 41 students.  Today, Langston University boasts an undergraduate enrollment of 2,379 students.

article by Britt Middleton via bet.com

Princeton University Art Museum Opens “Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe” Exhibit on February 16

Annibale Carracci, attrib. (Italian, 1560 – 1609), Portrait of an African Slave Woman, ca. 1580s.
Annibale Carracci, attrib. (Italian, 1560 – 1609), Portrait of an African Slave Woman, ca. 1580s.

PRINCETON, NJ – The Princeton University Art Museum presents Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe, an exhibition exploring the presence of Africans and their descendants in Europe from the late 1400s to the early 1600s and the roles these individuals played in society as reflected in art. Africans living in or visiting Europe during this time included artists, aristocrats, saints, slaves, and diplomats. The exhibition of vivid portraits created from life—themselves a part of the wider Renaissance focus on the identity and perspective of the individual—encourages face-to-face encounters with these individuals and poses questions about the challenges of color, class, and stereotypes that a new diversity brought to Europe. Aspects of this material have long been studied by scholars, but this exhibition marks the first time the subject has been presented to a wider American public.

Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe will be on view at the Princeton University Art Museum from February 16, 2013 to June 9, 2013, and will feature over 65 paintings, sculptures, prints, manuscripts, and printed books by great artists such as Dürer, Bronzino, Pontormo, Veronese, and Rubens. Organized by the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore in collaboration with the Princeton University Art Museum, the exhibition includes artworks drawn from major museums and private collections across Europe and the United States, including works from both Princeton and the Walters.

“The exhibition focuses new attention on an important but poorly understood aspect of Western history and the history of representation and thus continues our commitment to expanding the borders of scholarship and public understanding,” according to Princeton University Art Museum Director James Steward. “This exhibition affords an exceptional opportunity to discover great works of art and encourages us to reflect on our understanding of cultural identity both past and present.”

The presence of Africans and their descendants in Europe was partially a consequence of the drive for new markets beginning in the late 1400s. This included the importation of West Africans as slaves, supplanting the trade of slaves of Slavic origin. There was also increasing conflict with North African Muslims and heightened levels of diplomatic and trade initiatives by African monarchs.

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Journalist Dion Rabouin Challenges U.S. to Redefine Black History Month

black history 2013

Below is the complete text of journalist Dion Rabouin’s recent Huffington Post blog challenging this country to engage in a more comprehensive and far-reaching celebration of African and African-American achievements during Black History Month.  GBN couldn’t agree more, and has added links to his blog for just that purpose.  Enjoy!

Malcolm X was fond of saying, “Our history did not begin in chains.” Yet every year that’s where Black History Month lesson plans in schools across America begin. They begin telling the story of our history — black history — in chains.  Young black school children don’t learn that our people mapped, calculated and erected some of the greatest monuments ever, like the pyramids, the sphinx and the obelisks (after which the Washington Monument is modeled) or that our people were literally the lifeblood of some of history’s greatest civilizations. They don’t learn that calculus, trigonometry and geometry all trace their origins back to African scholars.

Black History Month lessons never begin with Haile Selassi I, ruler of Ethiopia, who could trace his ancestry to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba and beyond that to Cush in 6280 B.C. Never mind that Selassi actually has the most ancient lineage of any human being in history.

Black History Month lessons certainly never begin with one of the greatest conquerors the world has ever known, Hannibal, an African who conquered and extended the rule of the Carthaginian Empire into Italy, Rome and Spain. Most school children (and most adults, truth be told) don’t even know that Carthage, Hannibal’s homeland, is in Africa.

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