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Ashawnta Jackson

Ashawnta Jackson

Ashawnta Jackson is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Her writing has appeared in Atlas Obscura, Timeline, Downbeat, and others. You can find her tweeting infrequently @_heyjackson.

The exhumation of a body believed to be a vampire

Vampires and Public Health

At the end of the nineteenth century, the people of Rhode Island were drained by a mysterious force that caused them to slowly waste away.
Fred Astaire

Albums: What a Concept!

Long-playing records ushered in the era of the soundtrack, but they also made room for something else—the concept album.
A still from "Both Sides Now" by Kandy Fong

The Feminist Art Roots of Fan-Made Videos

Though vidding is now generally a part of online culture, it originated in the grassroots editing efforts of female television fans.
An old car radio

The Boomin’ Systems: The Evolution of Car Audio

Sound systems, as much as the automobiles themselves, symbolized upward mobility, social affiliation, and cultural identities.
Bill Russell during a basketball game

How Bill Russell Changed the Game, On and Off the Court

NBA player and coach Bill Russell was a leader and legend, fighting for civil rights even as racists harassed him from the sidelines.
Approximately 1000 young music fans gathered at the Pandora's Box club on Sunset Strip to protest a 10pm curfew imposed by local residents during the "Sunset Strip Curfew Riots" aka "hippie riots" on November 12, 1966.

“Everybody Look What’s Going Down”: The Sunset Strip Riots

In 1966, tired of being harassed by the police for their counterculture ways, the teens of Sunset Boulevard fought back through protests and music.
A 1961 advertisement for Cutex lipstick

Lipstick’s Complex History

From antiquity to the present, the laws governing the wearing of lipstick have been shaped by gender, class, safety, and religion.
The Staples Singers performing at Wattstax Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on August 20, 1972.

How Wattstax Ushered in a New Era of Black Art

Organized in the aftermath of the 1965 Watts uprising, the music festival showed that something powerful was happening in the Black community.
Annie Londonderry, 1896

The Hunt for the Massachusetts “Wild Man”

In a tale with as many false identities as supposed crimes, investigative reporter Annie “Londonderry” Kopchovsky gets her man (maybe).
Earl Stewart (L) and Michael Veal (R)

The Scholars Charting Black Music’s Timeline: Earl Stewart and Michael Veal

Earl Stewart and Michael Veal explore African American music from the Civil War and the evolving sounds of the Black Atlantic.
An ad for a Riot Grrrl Convention in 1992

Start a Riot (and a Zine), Grrrl

With roots in the small press and fanzine communities, the girl zine movement relied on pen, paper, and copy machines to fight structural oppression.
From the album cover of Free to Be... You and Me

Don’t Dress Your Whale in Galoshes

Free to Be... You and Me was meant to help rear a generation free of sexist stereotypes. Fifty years on, some of its well-intentioned messages are worn around the edges.
Golfers in Minnesota in the 1940s

Fairness on the Fairway: Public Golf Courses and Civil Rights

Organized movements to bring racial equality to the golf course have been part of the sport since the early 1900s.

Liberation on the Dance Floor

Motown’s foray into gay liberation music may have been short-lived, but it made an outsized impact on queer culture.
Florestine Perrault Collins

Challenging Race and Gender Roles, One Photo at a Time

Florestine Perrault Collins escaped the bounds of prescribed gender roles and racial segregation to run a successful photography studio in 1920s New Orleans.
Chuck Berry does the splits as he plays his Gibson hollowbody electric guitar in circa 1968.

Race, Rock, and Breaking Barriers

The rock music industry brought more than a little racism to the radio, but a few artists pushed beyond the boundaries imposed by white audiences.
Producer John Dolphin's "Dolphin's Of Hollywood" record store on Central Avenue, 1952

The Los Angeles Renaissance

Black composers Bruce Forsythe and Claudius Wilson transcended barriers to create concert and classical music during this West Coast art movement.
Althea Gibson of the United States plays during Wimbledon in 1956

Serving Goodwill: US Women’s Tennis and Cold War Diplomacy

By dispatching women tennis players on world tours, the US Department of State hoped to garner approval for the American way of life.
Photograph of the Tomato Girls Club in Jackson, Miss. in 1914

Like Tomatoes? Join the Club

Organizers of girls’ tomato clubs hoped that members would learn not only how to grow tomatoes, but how to build a better future for themselves.
Blues musician B.B. King stands on the back of a truck with other African-American men to raise money for radio station WDIA's Wheelin' On Beale March of Dimes charity for pregnancy and baby health in circa 1955 in Memphis, Tennessee.

How Black Radio Changed the Dial

Black-appeal stations were instrumental in propelling R&B into the mainstream while broadcasting news of the ever-growing civil rights movement.
A sprint at a U.S. Naval Academy field day, between 1890 and 1901

Professional Running: the Nineteenth Century’s Dirtiest Sport

American racers earned a reputation for deception, and Cuckoo Collins led the pack with an outsize talent for cheating.
Clockwise: Sun Ra, Betty Davis, Janelle Monáe, Erykah Badu, and Jimi Hendrix

The Scholars Who Charted Black Music’s Timeline: Tony Bolden

Tony Bolden explores the spiritual principles that inform the foundation of Afrofuturist music.
A Video Player interface with a tv rating in its center

Film and TV Ratings in the Streaming Age

We've got Netflix, AppleTV, YouTube, and Prime literally in the palms of our hands. Do conventional movie and television rating systems matter to us?
Detail from a poster for "Sapphire Show" designed by Eileen Nelson

How an Unrealized Art Show Created an Archive of Black Women’s Art

Records from a cancelled exhibition reveal the challenges faced by Black feminist artists and curators in the 1970s.
Portia K. Maultsby, 1981

The Scholars Who Charted Black Music’s Timeline

Portia K. Maultsby documents the course of African American music, tracing the histories of the sounds alongside the histories of the people who made them.