The Mississippi Sharecropper Who Helped Black Americans Win Voting Rights

Fannie Lou Hamer's Legacy Reminds Us That Everyday People Can Effect Change—Even When the Nation Is Impossibly Divided

Though Black people represented 50 percent of Mississippi’s voting age population in 1964, Jim Crow literacy tests, poll taxes, violence, and intimidation had managed to all but silence their political power at the polls. Now, adding to their disenfranchisement, white Southern Democrats were proposing seating an all-white delegation at that year’s Democratic National Convention.

Fannie Lou Hamer—a poor, middle-aged, Black sharecropper—wasn’t having it. That August, she testified before a convention committee, alongside better-known civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King Jr., and demanded the right to represent the citizens of Mississippi …

Angelic Choir of the First Baptist Church of Nutley

The 1960s Gospel Hit That Defined a Genre and an Era

Recorded in the Wake of the Birmingham Bombing, the Faith-Fueled Power of 'Peace Be Still' Endures Today

“Peace Be Still,” a six-minute-long hymn, swept gospel radio in 1963.

Recorded just four days after the devastating bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, it became an …

How South (Central) L.A. Is Forging Its Future | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

How South (Central) L.A. Is Forging Its Future

Where Movements and Place Make the People and Their Dreams

Under the shade of Mercado La Paloma’s gold medallion trees, some 200 masked guests gathered to take part in Zócalo Public Square’s long-awaited return to in-person programming.

The open-air event, which …

Searching for My Grandfather and the Tulsa in Me | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Searching for My Grandfather and the Tulsa in Me

100 Years Later, I’m Still Sifting Through the Tulsa Race Massacre’s Destruction to Find Our Family’s History

I am my father’s daughter.

I am the first-born daughter, the middle child, who was called Sweet Pea, Mama-Daddy, and Peanie. Naming is very important in the Black community. The …

A People’s Song Upon the Waters | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

A People’s Song Upon the Waters

A Familial Examination of the Sea Chantey Lays Out Its African American Roots

The last time I visited my paternal grandfather, Elton Smith, Jr., at his Virginia home, it was 2018, and he was well into his 90s. As I interviewed him for …

Caught in White Supremacy’s Web, Seeking a Future My Mother Showed Me | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Navigating the Constellation of Restraints on Black Life

Scholar Dexter Voisin on Whiteness, Colorism, and the Societal Narratives We Inherit

“The true focus of change is never merely the oppressive systems we seek to change but the oppressor that is planted deep within each of us.” —Audre Lorde

In the 1960s, …