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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.

Nella Larsen, 1928

The Plagiarism Scandal That Ended Nella Larsen’s Career

Larsen's 1930 story "Sanctuary" had a similar plot to an earlier British story. So what? Perhaps the tale never really belonged to either writer.
A postcard advertising Rev. Dr. Bow Weevil, a Rooster Channel Jumper

How Black CB Radio Users Created an Audible Community

CB radio was portrayed as a mostly white enthusiasm in its heyday, but Black CB users were active as early as 1959.
A daguerreotype of a postmortem baby, partially covered by a flowered shawl

The History of Postmortem Photography

Ever since the medium was invented, people have used photography to document loss.

The History of the Power Suit for Women

As women entered the white-collar world, experts told them to dress like men, without being too threatening.
An illustration from Muscle Building by Earle Liederman, 1924

The King of Mail-Order Muscles

Flab, begone! Earle Edwin Liederman wanted men to learn his vaudeville-strongman secrets—for a not-so-low price.
"The Big Ones of '68" a paper dress by Universal Studios, 1968

When Paper Was Fashion’s Favorite Material

It's hip, it's happening, it's wow, it's now, it's gone: RIP the paper dress, 1966–1968.
A poster for Tango!, 1933

How Women Singers Subverted Tango’s Masculinity

In the hands of performers known as cancionistas, the genre known for its machismo was transformed.
Women from Boston and Charleston, West Virginia, holding signs, demonstrating against textbooks, Washington, D.C., 1975

When a Battle to Ban Textbooks Became Violent

In 1974, the culture wars came to Kanawha County, West Virginia, inciting protests over school curriculum.
Eileen Southern

The Work of Pioneering Musicologist Eileen Southern

The scholarship of Black music was transformed by Southern's work, and is now being honored by a new initiative.
A Destroy Rape Culture sticker by Starchild Stela

Little Red Riding Hood On Campus: Women & Public Space

According to one criminologist, “constructing public space as dangerous to women ... reinforces traditional gender norms which emphasize women as vulnerable."
People holding hands at a civil rights demonstration in Washington, DC, in the aftermath of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, September 1963.

Making Eyes on the Prize

One of the most influential historical documentaries of all time almost didn't get made.
President Richard Nixon Starting the 1973 American League Season by Tossing a Baseball

Richard Nixon’s Fantasy Baseball Team

It might have been a ploy to garner Democratic votes, but the president took his dream team seriously.
Nat "King" Cole performs a song on piano on "The Ed Sullivan Show" on April 13, 1958 in New York City

Way before MTV, Music Ruled the Living Room

I want my Ed Sullivan, Arthur Godfrey, and Lawrence Welk! To say nothing of Soul Train!
Prince performs at the 10th Anniversary Essence Music Festival at the Superdome on July 2, 2004 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Philosophy of Posthumous Art

For some creators, death isn’t the end of their career. How should we think about completing and releasing their work afterward?
OK Soda can

Sells Like Teen Spirit

OK Soda disappeared from the store shelves of the 1990s shortly after its debut. But did its wink-wink marketing to Gen X actually work?
Along the highway near Bakersfield, California. Dust bowl refugees by Dorothea Lange

The Photographers Who Captured the Great Depression

The Farm Security Administration had photographers fan out across the country to document agricultural conditions. But they brought back much more.
Two Girl Scouts collecting magazines

When the Girl Scouts Were Accused of Being Commies

In response to right-wing attacks during the Cold War, the Girl Scouts changed their tone. Somewhat.
Black Swan record label of Alberta Hunter recording, 1921.

The History of Black-Owned Record Labels

Decades before Motown ruled the radio, labels like Black Swan and Black Patti put out records that didn't stereotype African American music.
1885-86 Cuban Giants

Integrating Baseball, before Jackie Robinson

Black players were banned from Major League Baseball during the Jim Crow era. Other players walked the color line—gently.
THREE GIRLS SISTERS EATING LUNCH AT KITCHEN TABLE PEANUT BUTTER & JELLY

What Happened to Peanut Butter and Jelly?

The rise and fall of the iconic sandwich has paralleled changes in Americans' economic conditions.
Family on outdoor picnic

The Sorry History of Car Design for Women

A landscape architect of the 1950s predicted that lady drivers would want pastel-colored pavement on the interstate.
A dollar bill with a portrait of Bach

Can Bach Make You Buy More Stuff?

Classical music carries an air of sophistication. One scholar tries to figure out whether it also translates into more ka-ching.
James Baldwin

James Baldwin and the FBI

The author was monitored for his political activities, but also for being gay. The surveillance took a toll on him.
A Jewish Welfare Board cookout for soldiers

Community Cookbooks and the Women Who Wrote Them

Before "local" became a foodie obsession, small groups of women published collections of their own recipes. And still do!
A poster for the Asian American Jazz Festival, 1984, by Zand Gee

Out of Black Liberation, Asian American Jazz

Inspired by Black artistic and political movements, musicians from diverse communities began expressing pan-Asian cultural belonging and freedom.