Parody English heavy metal band, Spinal Tap

The Mockumentary: A Very Real History

What's the appeal of humor masquerading as seriousness? An entire movie genre stands ready to shed light on that question.
Photograph: Beah Richards in a still from the film, "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner."

The Poem That Inspired Radical Black Women to Organize

Beah Richards is best known as an actor, but in 1951 she wrote a sweeping poem that influenced the Civil Rights Movement.
A mother plays the guitar while her two daughters sing / Guitarist Joan Jett of the rock band "The Runaways" performs on stage in Los Angeles in August, 1977

At First, the Guitar Was a “Women’s Instrument”

The history of the guitar shows that musical instruments have been gendered—but just how changes over time.
Marian Anderson with Harold L. Ickes (Secretary of the Interior)

Marian Anderson Photo Archives

The African American opera singer made history with a stirring concert at the Lincoln Memorial. But there was much more to Marian Anderson.
Jelly Roll Morton and His Red Hot Peppers

How Mexican and Cuban Music Influenced the Blues

The pianist and composer Jelly Roll Morton once told an ethnomusicologist that real jazz tunes needed "tinges of Spanish."
Parental Advisory label

Parental Advisory: The Story of a Warning Label

Songs weren't always labeled for explicit lyrics. The history of how it all came about includes some unlikely bedfellows.
Ida B. Wells-Barnett

The Alpha Suffrage Club and Black Women’s Fight for the Vote

Black women's experiences in the suffrage movement show that the Nineteenth Amendment marked one event in the fight for the vote, not an endpoint.
Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison’s Operatic Life

Toni Morrison was renowned for the musicality of her prose, so writing lyrics for classical music wasn't a huge stretch.
The title card from an episode of Black Journal

Black Journal and Liberatory Television

Underrepresented in the country's newsrooms, Black journalists found an outlet on public affairs shows like Black Journal.
DJ Kool Herc speaks during a press conference about the fate of 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, a building considered by many to be the birthplace of hip hop on January 15, 2008 in the Bronx

The Rec Room Party Where Hip-Hop Was Born

Thinking quickly and reading the dance floor, an innovative DJ began playing the funkiest parts of every record.