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African-American History

               African-American History Film Clips

Comedian Bert Williams: R.I.P. (Literary Digest, 1922)

The African-American comedian Bert Williams (1874 1922) was a funny fellow who ascended to great heights in his life; he performed in the great theaters of Europe and was adored by many of the foreign potentates of his time. Yet despite all his international glory, he never received acceptance in his own country. Like many African-Americans at the time, Williams simply came to accept the myopic views of race as it was understood by the majority of his countrymen, and learned to do without the appreciation he so craved. Bert Williams died in 1922. One of his more memorable lines:

"Being a Negro is not a bad thing, it's just terribly inconvenient."


Social Differences Among the Lighter Skinned and Darker Skinned Blacks (Literary Digest, 1922)

The varying degrees of color found among American Blacks has been, and still is, a sensitive topic and it was addressed in 1922 with some wit by an African-American journalist whose work is attached. Its a good read and speaks of a social structure that, we like to think, is gone with the wind; words appear in this article that seem queer in our era - there is much talk of

"yellow gals"
"golden-skinned slave girls"
"tawny-skinned maids"

-all originating from African-American verse and popular song.

During the Second World War, hair dye was not simply used by women;
click here to read about the men who needed it, too.

Click here to read about black women who pass for white.

Click here to read a history of African-Americans between the years 1619 through 1939.


The Bible and Slavery (The North American Review, 1864)

This is a book review written during the American Civil War of a British work titled, "Does the Bible Sanction American Slavery" by a well known anti-imperialist of the time named Goldwin Smith (1823-1910).

"Is African slavery, as it exists in our Southern states, an evil or a good thing? Is it, or is it not, consistent with a high sense of duty to man and to God, and with the requirements of that state of Christian civilization which the foremost nations of the world have reached?"

The second part of the article is available upon request.


''Black Mammy'' (Confederate Veteran Magazine, 1918)

Those sensitive beta-males in the editorial offices of Confederate Veteran were teary-eyed and waxing winsome that day in 1918 when they saw fit to recall one particular long-standing Southern institution that was gone with the wind:

"The most unique character connected with the days of slavery was the old black mammy, who held a position of and confidence in nearly every white family of importance in the South... She was an important member of the household, and for her faithfulness and devotion she has been immortalized in the literature of the South."


The 1964 Harlem Race Riot (Pageant Magazine, 1964)


What the Negro Thinks (The Bookman, 1929)

This is the 1929 book review of What the Negro Thinks by Robert Moton (1867 1940).

"[To the Negro] the white man sometimes seems a bit pathetic in his insistence upon keeping the worth of the Negro hidden, in refusing to recognize skill and talent, honor and virtue, strength and goodness simply because it wears a black skin. To him, the white man's apparent dread of the Negro is incomprehensible..."


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