How African American Spirituals Moved From Cotton Fields to Concert Halls

After the Civil War, Touring Groups of Black College Singers Popularized Slavery-Era Songs, Giving Rise to a New Musical Genre

“Swing low, sweet chariot….” These words are familiar to many Americans, who might sing them in worship, in Sunday school, around campfires, in school, and in community choruses. But the black singers responsible for introducing this song, and hundreds of other slave spirituals, to white America after the Civil War remain underrecognized almost 150 years later.

Spirituals are sacred songs composed anonymously by black Americans. Before the Civil War they were sung in the privacy of black spaces—the brush arbor, the praise house, the cotton field, the levee. After the …

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Why Amnesty Remains America’s Best Immigration Policy

As Ronald Reagan Knew, a Country That Doesn't Forgive Will Turn Against Itself

One afternoon in July 1985, President Ronald Reagan met with his domestic policy council in the White House cabinet room. The question: should he keep pushing legislation to offer amnesty …

Are Labor Strikes Staging a Comeback?

Work Stoppages Have Declined Steeply Since the '70s, But This Year's Mass Teacher Walkouts May Signal Renewed Militancy 

In states across the nation, public school teachers are going out on strike. What does that tell us about the future of labor in America?

On February 22, 2018, some 20,000 …

When Baltimore Medical Students Were Free to Rob the City’s Graves

In 19th-Century Maryland, Stealing Corpses Wasn't a Crime. And a Half-Dozen Medical Schools Needed Cadavers.

Railroads changed everything. The formation in 1828 of the nation’s first common carrier, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, revolutionized transportation, altered people’s sense of time and place, and knitted America …

Today’s Battle Over the Confederate Flag Has Nothing to Do With the Civil War

Popular Well Beyond the South, It Is Now a Modern Symbol of White Grievance and Nostalgia for Crumbling Hierarchies

Three years ago, Dylann Roof murdered nine people in the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina and renewed a long-running debate about the meaning of the Confederate battle flag. …

Why Major League Baseball Tried to Rein in Babe Ruth

The Sultan of Swat Saved a Discredited Game, But the Sport's Establishment Sought to Tame Its Headstrong Superstar

Babe Ruth was baseball’s greatest hero. So why did the national pastime’s establishment turn against him?

The answer lies in the untold story of Ruth’s challenge to the authorities ruling …