When Teaching African-Americans to Read in the South Meant Risking 20 Lashes From a Bullwhip

During the Civil War, Seven Black Men Met in Secret to Found Parkersburg, West Virginia’s First Public School

During the Civil War, in a town called Parkersburg on the western edge of the newly declared state of West Virginia, a group of black men gathered one evening in a barbershop. As Robert Simmons, the owner, finished cutting the last man’s hair, the group discussed starting a school.

Simmons and a man named Robert Thomas led the conversation, which became somewhat contentious. All of the men in attendance agreed that their children ought to receive a formal education similar to that given to the wealthy white boys and girls …

The Once-Enslaved Kentuckian Who Became the ‘Potato King of the World’ | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Once-Enslaved Kentuckian Who Became the ‘Potato King of the World’

After His Emancipation, Junius Groves Walked 500 Miles to Kansas Where He Made a Fortune and Built a Community

Junius Groves started life as an enslaved person in Kentucky. By the time of his death, he would be celebrated, by those fortunate enough to know his story, as …

The 19th-Century African-American Soldier Who Fought for Filipino Liberation

Angry at the Treatment of Blacks in the US, in 1899 David Fagan Deserted His Regiment and Became a Household Name Back Home

In 1899, during a campaign on the island of Luzon to entrap the Filipino revolutionary president Emilio Aguinaldo, a 21-year-old buffalo soldier named David Fagen deserted from the American army. …

The Black Scholar Who Gave Up Her Family to Earn Her Ph.D.

In the Early to Mid-1900s, Historian Marion Thompson Wright Had to Contend With the Prefeminist Rules and Culture of Howard University

Marion Thompson Wright is best known as the first female African-American to earn a doctorate in history. Her 1940 dissertation, defended at Teachers College at Columbia University—The Education of Negroes …

Frederick Douglass’s Love-Hate Relationship With America

Historian David Blight Tackles the Great Abolitionist's Contradictions and His Enduring Legacy

From his youth, as a slave growing up in antebellum Maryland, Frederick Douglass saw the double-ness of American life. He recognized the gulf between the nation’s enlightened principles and its …