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Ashawnta Jackson

Ashawnta Jackson

Ashawnta Jackson is a reader, writer, and record collector living in New York. She has written for NPR Music, Bandcamp, Artsy, Atlas Obscura, and GRAMMY.com, among others. You can read more of her work at heyjackson.net.

This Revolution Will Be Amplified

From Lil Nas X to Valerie June to Darius Rucker, Black musicians are staking their claim in country music. Francesca T. Royster explains.
Homemade Air Fryer potato chips in a paper lined wire basket on dark background

The Fakelore of Food Origins

Where did potato chips come from? How about clams casino? Are the origin stories for these foods true, or do they fall into the category of “fakelore”?
Harper's Weekly, October 17, 1874 issue. Illustration by John A. Randolph of the scene of "A Colorado Tragedy."

The Colorado Cannibal

Prospector Alferd Packer, stranded in the San Juan Mountains, was forced to eat his companions to survive the brutal winter conditions. Or was he?
Tammy Kernodle and Stephanie Shonekan

The Scholars Charting Black Music’s Timeline: Tammy Kernodle & Stephanie Shonekan

Kernodle and Shonekan explore the contributions of Black Americans to classical music and the importance of music and song for social justice movements.
Laurence Harvey and Frank Sinatra in John Frankenheimer's cold war thriller 'The Manchurian Candidate', 1962.

How Films Can Teach History

By viewing movies like The Manchurian Candidate, students can see one version of history that they can then use to dig deeper, explore more.
An advertisement for song sharks in Park's Floral Magazine, 1913

We’re Going to Need a Bigger Note

Song sharks have been a problem for aspiring lyricists nearly as long as there’s been a music industry.
American painter, photographer, writer, and film director William Klein, c. 1968

The Confounding Career of William Klein

The American artist brought the physical world into fashion photography in ways that were often unappreciated or unpredictable.
Source: https://www.jstor.org/stable/community.28039240

Daughters of Bilitis

The first lesbian rights organization in the United States originated as “a social club for gay girls.”
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.