15 Black Musicians You May Not Have Known Had Their Works Preserved in The Library of Congress

Last week, Lauryn Hill’s 1998 solo album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” was inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry. The album will be preserved as a piece of American history available for future generations to enjoy. Her album will join many other artists’ and political figures’ speeches and albums. Here is a list of some of the Black artists she will be remembered with.


Sly and the Family Stone

Sly and the Family Stone’s 1969 “Stand!” was one of the most successful albums of the 1960s. The album was a mix of funk and rock that put a stamp on the distinct sound of the late ’60s and 1970s.


Aretha Franklin

Franklin’s 1967 album “Respect” was inducted in 2002. The album features the classic single of the same name.


De La Soul

De La Soul’s 1989 album “3 Feet High and Rising” was included in the registry in 2010. The group was prominent in the 1990s as hip-hop became more mainstream.

12 Black Pioneers Whose Contributions Undoubtedly Changed Education in America


Armand Lanusse (c. 1810-1867)

Lanusse was a poet and educator living in New Orleans.  In 1845, he edited 85 poems written in French by 18 Afro-Creole poets of Louisiana called Les Cenelles. Lanusse helped fight for the rights of Black people in the bayou. In 1852, he organized a school for Afro-Creoles in New Orleans.


Daniel Payne (Feb. 24, 1811 – Nov. 2, 1893)

Payne was a pastor of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He worked on helping freedman after slavery and recruiting more members into the congregation. He was also one of the founders of Wilberforce University in 1856. Payne also served as president of the school in 1863-77.

The Importance of Knowing How and Why Black History Matters

Before this year, I didn’t like celebrating Black History Month. While I was grateful for the contributions of the Black people who came before me, I didn’t like celebrating Black History Month because I felt like Black history didn’t matter today.

This dislike for Black History Month didn’t come overnight. It started in high school, where I kept hearing and seeing the same old faces being taught. In high school, we had Black History Month assemblies in the gym each year. At first, these were entertaining. By my junior year, I had gotten bored by them. During my senior year, I didn’t go at all.

Another reason I came to dislike Black History Month is because I didn’t see the past contributions of Black people being reflected anywhere in the mainstream media. In fall 2010, I was doing research on the history of rock music for a college paper and was surprised to discover that Black musicians like Chuck Berry and Little Richard had pioneered rock ‘n’ roll.

When I discovered this, I had mixed emotions. On one hand, I was excited to hear Chuck Berry’s music and see old live performances clips on YouTube. On the other hand, I was upset that I hadn’t learned about Black people inventing rock ‘n’ roll in grade school. I was also disappointed because I thought that there weren’t any Black rock musicians today.

Last year, I realized that there were current Black musicians in rock as well as every other genre besides hip-hop, pop, and R&B. Using the site Afropunk to do further research, I discovered hundreds of bands and musicians like Skunk Anansie, Gary Clark Jr., Marian Mereba and more. All these musicians were either independent musicians or not widely known.

At the same time, I was digging deeper into the past and discovering other musicians not in any school textbook. Some examples included Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Nina Simone and Betty Davis. Soon I was able to make connections about who influenced who today and gain an immense appreciation for Black musicians in almost every genre.

In addition to the music, I also discovered Black speculative fiction, a literary genre that comprises Black authors of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror. According to an I09 article, Black speculative fiction has been around since the 19th century. Some current Black speculative fiction authors I have read include Balogun Ojetade, Tananarive Due and N.K. Jemisin.

Read more by Latonya Pennington at Black Girl Nerds

4 Apps To Vastly Increase Your Child’s Black History Knowledge

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‘Black Inventors Match Game’

Available on: Android and iOS

This app, for younger children around ages 7-12, features the characters Myles and Ayesha as interactive teachers. They will help kids learn about Black inventors and their inventions, such as the doorknob, traffic light, lemon squeezer and many more. Then users can test their knowledge with a matching game. This app is only 99 cents.

#28DaysofBlackCosplay — A New Movement All Black Nerds Should Follow

As the first week of Black History Month drew to a close and you grew weary from watching the media try to pack centuries of complex historical importance into pleasantly digestible pieces (or ignore February’s significance altogether), you might feel like burnout is inevitable. But there is hope, my friend, and it looks like daily posts from cosplayer Chaka Cumberbatch of Princess Mentality Cosplay, the creator of a brand new digital movement called #28DaysofBlackCosplay.

In honor of Black History Month, a group of Black cosplayers have come together to help celebrate and promote diversity in our community. Every day, we’ll be spotlighting a different Black cosplayer – and we’re encouraging EVERYONE to join in the fun! If you or someone you know would like to be featured, simply post your picture on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc and be sure to include the hashtag #28DaysofBlackCosplay – it’s that easy.

The impact rippling through cosplay communities is huge (as of writing this article the hashtag’s influence has even caught the attention of major news outlets like CNN). I reached out to Cumberbatch recently and she answered questions as to what this united force of Black cosplayers means to her as well as the greater cosplay community.

What was the initial inspiration behind this movement?

#28DaysofBlackCosplay was initially inspired by the desire to help foster and strengthen a sense of community among Black cosplayers. It’s not easy to be a Black person in this hobby. Your costumes are considered lower quality, you are passed up for photos and opportunities, and you’re routinely made fun of online. On top of which, a lot of people don’t think there are very many Black cosplayers out there, because our work is very rarely showcased. So I thought, screw that, why don’t we get together and find a way to celebrate our own work and our own community. It really wasn’t (and still isn’t) about separating ourselves – it was more about encouraging and empowering each other. I got a group of friends together, asked them to invite any Black cosplayer they could think of, and we developed a schedule to share each other’s pictures, pages and profiles. I spent weeks compiling everyone’s information and putting it all together, and I remember I was so worried nobody would actually take it seriously or participate once the month started. It’s insane to think about that now, seeing how big the thing has become!

How do you think cosplay/nerdom fits into Black history?

I view cosplay almost as a relatively new Black culture form of performance art – in many ways, it’s very similar to music, dance and other creative outlets we use to express ourselves. Different forms of creative expression have always been part of the fabric of our culture, and I think cosplay and geekdom as a whole fits in under that umbrella. We’ve gotten a lot of flak from people claiming that it’s arrogant of us to celebrate Black cosplay during Black History Month, because cosplay isn’t important enough to Black history. But as Black nerds, Black cosplay is part of what will be our history. This is a story that we’re in the process of writing right now. It’s important to us, and it’s a part of who we are.

Read more from Lauren Bullock at Black Nerd Problems

5 Reasons Blerds Have Created Their Own Space

Embrace Intelligence and Blackness

A debate has recently ensued over “The Acting White Theory,” suggesting Black students are less inclined to be studious and smart because it is associated with being white. This  theory originated in the 1980s with anthropologist and former professor at University of California Berkeley, Dr. John Ogbu’s research. It is commonly used to explain the present-day achievement gap between Black and white students, according to theroot.com.

Although this theory has been cited by President Obama as a call to action to bring education and intellect into our communities, author and Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson pushes back, believing that these anti-intellectual stereotypes of Black youth  are not founded in reality.

Researchers over the last three decades have consistently found that Black students have more positive attitudes about education than their white peers, although academic achievement is lower overall, theroot.com reports.

Blerds have created their own space to support Black intellectual creative abilities, and the desire for achievement in our communities.

Separate From Stereotypes of Black Culture

In today’s culture, Blackness is confined to a small scope. Modern-day images of Blackness often revolve around star athletes, hip-hop moguls, gangsters or TV housewives and baller’s baby’s moms. Oftentimes, these stereotypes reinforce accepted violence, hatred and ignorance against African-Americans.

On Aug. 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager who a witness says raised his hands in surrender, was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri. Racial profiling may have led to his death and his race may have also influenced stories shared in the media about his possible criminal involvement, in attempt to justify and excuse the blatant disregard for his life.

Blerds have created their own space to separate from the stereotyped images of the Black culture and find sanctuary in the freedom to be who they were born to be.

Pay Homage to Intellectual Predecessors 

African-American intellectual Blerds, such as sociologist and activist W.E.B. Du Bois, educator and orator Booker T. Washington, academic and activist Cornel West and President Obama, all pushed the envelope, advocating the advancement of African-American rights, specifically, opportunities to higher education, reform of the criminal justice system, the end of the school-to-prison pipeline, and access to higher political office.

Blerds’ expression of themselves as intellectuals in their own space pays homage to the Black intellectuals, innovators and achievers that came before them.

Define Themselves and Their Narratives
Since 2002, Black journalists in the U.S. have lost 993 newsroom jobs, more than any other minority groups, according to The National Association of Black Journalists.
In An Open Letter to America’s Black Journalists, Eric L. Wattree, a Los Angeles journalist, declares that Black journalists do have a special and unique mission — to educate and help the Black community connect the dots and understand the complex structures of exploitation, prejudice and disenfranchisement of Black people in mainstream society.
As the number of employed Blacks dwindle across all sectors, it is even more imperative to create our own spaces in which we can thrive and support. Blerds have created their own space to define themselves and share their own narratives.
Document Their History For All Time
In today’s modern world, Africans and African-Americans have been misidentified by mainstream thought as inferior, lacking the skills, education and the drive necessary to succeed.
The little-told narratives of our ancestors , who created mathematics, martial arts, universal education and more, highlight the true nature of people of African descent, according to Atlanta Blackstar article, “When Black Men Ruled the World.”
Blerds have created their own spaces to document our successes so that our history is never again forgotten.