Meet Karine Jean-Pierre, the new White House press secretary

By Noelani Kirschner Karine Jean-Pierre thought it was inconceivable that one day she’d stand up in front of  the press  and deliver the daily briefing as the chief spokesperson for the president of the United States. She is the daughter of a New York City cab driver and a hair salon owner, both immigrants; her parents hoped she would ...
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U.S. athletes to watch at the 2022 Winter Olympics [photo gallery]

By Lauren MonsenSherry L. Brukbacher As the countdown begins for the opening of the 2022 Winter Olympics, the world’s  elite athletes  are preparing to compete in a record 109 events in several sports — skating (which includes figure skating and speedskating), biathlon, skiing (which includes snowboarding and ski jumping), bobsledding, luge, skeleton, curling and ice hockey. Team USA  includes several stars, one ...
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Black women transform contemporary literature

By Noelani Kirschner “Being a black woman writer is not a shallow place but a rich place to write from,” Toni Morrison said in an interview with the New Yorker. “It doesn’t limit my imagination; it expands it.” Black women in the United States are transforming the literary world as writers, publishers, magazine editors and academics. Here are ...
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How Black History Month came to be

Black communities didn’t need a week or a month dedicated to their history in order to remember and treasure it, says historian Matthew Delmont of Dartmouth University. “They kept it in diaries and family records, in black newspapers, and through stories,” says Delmont, who is busy each February speaking to groups in schools and corporations ...
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Honoring an American trailblazer for diversity

“I was considered a troublemaker,” Ambassador Terence A. Todman said of his time at the State Department, “and that was all right.” Todman (1926–2014) was one of the first Black Americans designated a career ambassador, a classification appointed by the president for distinguished service. He paved the way for nonwhite diplomats at the Department of ...
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Preserving a historic African American mural for future generations

American artist Charles White’s famed 1943 mural The Contribution of the Negro to Democracy in America celebrates prominent African Americans who fought for equality. Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver and Crispus Attucks are depicted in the work, which appears on a wall at Hampton University, a  historically black university  in Virginia. ...
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Dictionaries add words as American English evolves

By Lauren Monsen As American English speakers invent phrases to fit today’s realities, dictionaries follow suit by adding new words to their lists of definitions. Recent entries have been driven by the pandemic and by a growing appreciation of diversity in the U.S. population. The  Merriam-Webster Dictionary  and the website  Dictionary.com  (which is based on the Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary) ...
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Barbara Watson paved the way for women and Black diplomats

By Noelani Kirschner Diplomat Barbara Watson achieved historic firsts during her time at the State Department. But firsts were familiar in her family. Watson was the child of New York’s first elected Black judge, James S. Watson, and Violet Lopez Watson, a founder of the National Council of Negro Women. Watson’s cousin Colin L. Powell ...
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Black women who changed our world

Many of the modern conveniences we rely on each day come from the accomplishments of African American women. Black women inventors helped shaped the way we watch movies, conduct online meetings, and even heat and secure our homes. They succeeded in developing new technologies despite obstacles, such as resistance to developing their products and other ...
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Six remarkable women honored posthumously

By  Lenore T. Adkins The National Women’s Hall of Fame has inducted six trailblazing Black women into its unique sisterhood, recognizing their contributions at the Seneca Falls, New York, birthplace of the American women’s rights movement. Its new Virtual Induction Series  celebrates underrepresented women of achievement. It does this by posthumously recognizing marginalized women who were overlooked during their lifetimes or died before ...
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Black Americans elevated education, fought racism

Ted DeLaney arrived at Washington and Lee University as a janitor. By the time he left, he’d been chairman of its history department. DeLaney’s story is extraordinary, but his path is one shared by millions of Black Americans: Overcome prejudice, seize new opportunities, and contribute to your community and your nation. DeLaney was born and ...
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National Museum of African American Music debuts in Nashville

By Noelani KirschnerSherry L. Brukbacher The history of Black American music in the United States spans four centuries, and now there’s a museum to honor that legacy. The  National Museum of African American Music  (NMAAM), which opened January 30 in Nashville,  Tennessee , calls itself “the only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the many music genres created, influenced and inspired by African Americans.” Divided ...
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African American trailblazers in diplomacy

African Americans’ contributions to U.S. diplomacy began in the late 19th century, when abolitionists Ebenezer Bassett and, later, Frederick Douglass were appointed as chiefs of mission to  Haiti  and the Dominican Republic. Since then,  African American diplomats  have served with distinction all over the world. Ralph Bunche was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950 for negotiating an Arab-Israeli ...
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Percy Julian: Revolutionary inventor, grandchild of slaves

Where many saw a bean, Percy Julian saw an entire laboratory. A synthetic chemist, Julian derived medical compounds from substances in plants. From the Calabar bean, he obtained a treatment for glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness among the elderly. His work with soybeans supported everything from hydrocortisone shots to treat arthritis to fire retardant ...
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U.S. memorials honor civil rights hero Rosa Parks

The U.S. Air Force on December 1, 2020, the 65th anniversary of Parks’ 1955 protest, unveiled a sculpture of her at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, adding to an array of memorials that honor the civil rights icon, who died in 2005 at the age of 92. This year ShareAmerica is highlighting some of ...
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Kamala Harris: America’s next vice president

By Lauren Monsen Kamala Devi Harris, a senator who has represented California in the U.S. Congress since 2017, will break barriers when she is inaugurated as vice president of the United States on January 20. She will be the first woman — and the first person of African, Jamaican and South Asian ancestry — to occupy that ...
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Six remarkable women honored posthumously

By Lenore T. Adkins The National Women’s Hall of Fame has inducted six trailblazing Black women into its unique sisterhood, recognizing their contributions at the Seneca Falls, New York, birthplace of the American women’s rights movement. Its new Virtual Induction Series  celebrates underrepresented women of achievement. It does this by posthumously recognizing marginalized women who were overlooked during their lifetimes or died before ...
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What does January 1 signify in Lincoln’s legacy?

By   Lauren Monsen The  Emancipation Proclamation  is arguably one of the most important documents in the history of the United States. Abraham Lincoln himself stated that he considered it to be his greatest legacy. “I never in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right than I do in signing this paper,” he said. “If my name ...
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From civil rights activist to member of Congress: Remembering John Lewis (July 20)

From civil rights activist to member of Congress: Remembering John Lewis (July 20) Civil rights hero and U.S. Representative John Lewis died July 17 at the age of 80. He had been battling pancreatic cancer since he received the diagnosis in December. The son of Alabama sharecroppers, Lewis was a central figure in the U.S. civil ...
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NASA names a building for a pioneering African American (July 8)

NASA names a building for a pioneering African American (July 8)   NASA has renamed its Washington headquarters to honor Mary W. Jackson, the first female African American engineer to work for the agency. Jackson was among four African American women recently awarded  Congressional Gold Medals  for their contributions to early space flight. Jackson and her colleagues were also ...
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