In Defense of Black History: A Manifesto

Nashville Sit-ins

Nashville Sit-ins
Courtesy U.S. Library of Congress


It is a story of strivers and achievers, of resilience and grace, of unthinkable pain and unbelievable triumph. It is Black history, and it is disappearing before our very eyes. Removed from school curricula, pulled from library shelves, vanished from public memory. Consider recent headlines:

• In Virginia, the governor sets up a tip-line for students to inform on teachers who teach such “divisive concepts” as Black history.

• In Florida, the governor blocks the College Board’s AP African American studies course.

• In Kentucky, a school board bans “Ruby Bridges Goes to School,” a book Bridges wrote for second graders about how she integrated New Orleans schools in 1960.

• In Texas, a teacher is formally reprimanded for having in her classroom a copy of the book, “This Book is Anti-Racist”.

• Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley says the United States has “never been a racist country.”

• Musician Kanye West calls slavery “a choice” Black people made.

This moment reminds us that we must be ever more vigilant in protecting our histories against distortions, lies, and myths. For nearly two decades, has been precisely doing that. We are committed to providing a global audience with reliable and accurate information on the history of Black America and of people of African ancestry around the world.

As gatekeepers, we have a social responsibility to give an honest accounting of the past and recover Black stories, voices, and contributions. In fact, we have evolved into the largest online repository, covering every aspect of the Black experience. We provide over 7,000 encyclopedic entries, and dozens more are added every month. In addition, we have articles, speeches, court decisions, timelines, bibliographies, a music library, and other resources, all of which are available for free to students, educators, parents, and anyone with internet access. We do this because this knowledge challenges misleading narratives, and we believe that it will lead to greater understanding and constructive change in society.

Frederick Douglass is here. Wilson Pickett and Dr. Mae Jamison are here. Nelson Mandela, Miriam Makeba, and Barack Obama are here. Their stories and many others are here. You should be here, too.

With over 6.5 million visitors from more than 100 nations in 2023 alone, and over 56 million Life-of-Site visitors (since founding on Feb. 1, 2007), we hope that you will join us in defending Black history and affirming that Black life, Black voices, Black culture, and Black heritage matter.