Black History Month

“Having a Black woman on the Supreme Court would be life-changing for the young Black girls coming behind me — proof that what we believe for ourselves can come true.”

- Ariel June, Georgetown Law Student

Black History Month 2022

Updated Feb. 3 at 12:07 p.m.Originally published Feb. 1, 2021

The first Black female judge in the United States was sworn in on July 22, 1939, in New York City. Her name was Jane Bolin, and she was assigned to the Domestic Relations Court.

More than eight decades later, the nation is waiting to learn the name of the Black woman who will make history as the first to be nominated to the Supreme Court. President Biden, making good on a campaign promise, said at a news conference last week that “it’s long overdue.”

Biden said he intends to make his choice by the end of February, which is Black History Month, a time when the nation reflects on the contributions of African Americans to the country. The Washington Post has compiled a selection of recently published content that helps to tell the stories of how Black people have shaped the country’s government, economy and culture.

This year, we could witness a new chapter in the ongoing story, and we will keep you posted on updates on the historic Supreme Court nomination.

Editor’s picks
From left: Judge J. Michelle Childs, California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
From left: Judge J. Michelle Childs, California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. (Charles Dharapak/AP; Todd Rogers/AP; Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

A guide to the Black female judges who are top contenders to replace Justice Breyer Justice Stephen G. Breyer will retire at the end of the Supreme Court’s term in June, clearing the way for Biden to make his first nomination to the nation’s highest judicial body. As a candidate, Biden said that if given the opportunity, he would nominate an African American woman — who, if confirmed, would become the first Black female Supreme Court justice. | By Annabelle Timsit, Seung Min Kim, Ann E. Marimow and Ellen Francis

Pauli Murray.
Pauli Murray. (AP; iStock/Washington Post illustration)

“It should be of passing interest that I represent the largest group of minority status in the United States — namely, female. … My application is to forestall the popular misconception that no qualified women applied or are available,” Pauli Murray, a constitutional lawyer and co-founder of the National Organization for Women, wrote to President Richard M. Nixon in 1971, applying for a vacancy on the Supreme Court. | By Anne Branigin

Image without caption

More than 1,700 congressmen once enslaved Black people. This is who they were, and how they shaped the nation. For the first seven decades of its existence, Congress returned again and again to one acrimonious topic: slavery. Many of the lawmakers arguing in Washington were participants in the brutal institution at home. The Washington Post has compiled the first database of slaveholding members of Congress by examining thousands of pages of census records and historical documents | By Julie Zauzmer Weil, Adrian Blanco and Leo Dominguez

Dallas-Fort Worth is seeing its Black population surpass 1 million people for the first time.
Dallas-Fort Worth is seeing its Black population surpass 1 million people for the first time. (Joshua Lott/The Washington Post)

Still looking for a ‘Black mecca,’ the new Great Migration The percentage of Black Americans who live in the South has been increasing since 1990, while the Black population shrank in a number of Northern and Western cities. The Post interviewed Black Americans across three Southern states — Georgia, North Carolina and Texas — who had moved to the South in recent decades. | By Emmanuel Felton, John D. Harden and Kevin Schaul

“Everyone lays claim to King’s legacy with such certitude that if as many people marched alongside him in the 1960s as have said they did, then there would have been virtually no one standing on the sidelines wielding batons and casting aspersions.” Perspective: Exhausting Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy | By Robin Givhan

Black History Month founder showed how schools should teach about race With the country embroiled in bitter debates over how racial history and the existence of systemic racism should be taught in schools, Carter G. Woodson’s 89-year-old text still serves as a template for racial education and a refutation of the notion that it should be glossed over. | By DeNeen L. Brown

Image without caption

Everyday Resilience. A photographer’s campaign to capture positive images of Black America takes on new resonance in the pandemic For nearly a quarter of a century, Russell Frederick, a Brooklyn-based photographer and activist, has documented moments of quiet dignity, family love and everyday joy in the lives of Black and Brown people as part of his “Positive Images” campaign. | Photographs by Russell Frederick. Text by Katherine Marsh.

Image without caption
(The Washington Post)

Mamie Till-Mobley stirred the conscience of the country after she insisted on an open casket funeral of her 14-year-old son and allowed Jet magazine to publish photos of his brutalized body. Her son, Emmett Till, was murdered by white supremacists in 1955. On Tuesday, Feb. 8 at 12 p.m. Eastern time, Deborah Watts, co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation and a cousin of Emmett Till, discusses how Till-Mobley galvanized the civil rights movement in our continuing series about the role of Black women in the country’s history. Register for the program here.

In tribute to the lives lost
Secretary of State Colin Powell in 2001.
Secretary of State Colin Powell in 2001. (Kenneth Lambert)

“My race is somebody else’s problem. It’s not my problem.” Colin Powell, the first Black secretary of state, died on Oct. 18 at the age of 84. Powell also was the first African American and youngest chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was celebrated for helping lead the U.S. military to victory in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, but a decade later, he was criticized for making the case to invade Iraq, a move he came to regret.

Charles E. McGee, a retired Air Force brigadier general and Tuskegee Airman

Carrie P. Meek, a one of the first African Americans since Reconstruction elected to represent Florida in Congress

Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, civil rights lawyer who was elected to 15 terms in Congress

Sidney Poitier with his best actor Oscar for “Lilies of the Field” in 1964.
Sidney Poitier with his best actor Oscar for “Lilies of the Field” in 1964.

“I was part of an influence that could be called paving the way. But I was only a part of it. I was selected almost by history itself. Most of my career unfolded in the 1960s, which was one of the periods in American history with certain attitudes toward minorities that stayed in vogue.” Sidney Poitier, the first Black man to win an Academy Award for best actor, died on Jan. 6 at the age of 94. Poitier forever changed the perception of African Americans in movies with his powerful and charismatic screen presence. | By Adam Bernstein

Mary Wilson, founding member of the groundbreaking Motown group, the Supremes

Melvin Van Peebles, whose 1971 film, “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song” was a milestone of independent and African American cinema

André Leon Talley, eminence of haute couture and one of the few African Americans on the mastheads and red carpets of the fashion world

Virgil Abloh, men’s artistic director of Louis Vuitton and founder of the Milan-based label Off-White

Gloria Richardson, head of the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee, pushes a National Guardsman’s bayonet aside in Maryland in 1963.
Gloria Richardson, head of the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee, pushes a National Guardsman’s bayonet aside in Maryland in 1963.

“A first-class citizen does not beg for freedom. A first-class citizen does not plead to the White power structure to give him something that the Whites have no power to give or take away. Human rights are human rights, not White rights.” Gloria Richardson, who led civil rights protests on Maryland’s Eastern Shore during the 1960s, died July 15 at the age of 99. Richardson, who called herself a “radical, a revolutionary,” found herself at odds with the nonviolent movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. | By Keith Alexander

Bob Moses, civil rights leader who used “math literacy” to engage rural and inner-city students

Shelia Washington, founder of an Alabama museum dedicated to the memory of the Scottsboro Boys, a group of young Black men unjustly convicted of crimes in the 1930s

W. Sterling Cary, a minister who became the first African American to lead the National Council of Churches

Lani Guinier, civil rights scholar and first Black female tenured professor at Harvard Law School

Elgin Baylor stands next to a statue in his honor, unveiled in 2018 outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Elgin Baylor stands next to a statue in his honor, unveiled in 2018 outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles. (Reed Saxon/AP)

Elgin Baylor, a Hall of Fame forward known for driving to the hoop and soaring above the rim with a gravity-defying style that helped pave the way for superstars such as Julius Erving and Michael Jordan, died March 22. He was 86. | By Harrison Smith

“The line that connects LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and Erving begins with Baylor, the game’s — no, the world’s — first superstar. Seriously: The term ‘superstar’ was coined for Baylor.” Sportswriter Michael Lee on Baylor’s legacy

Dianne Durham, gymnast who became the first African American to win the U.S. national championship

Irv Cross, former NFL player who became the first Black full-time sports analyst on national television

Lusia Harris, 1970s basketball star who scored the first points in a women’s Olympic basketball game

Chris Dickerson, champion bodybuilder who became the first Black Mr. America and the first openly gay Mr. Olympia

bell hooks.
bell hooks. (Margaret Thomas/The Washington Post)

“Whenever a Black woman is attractive and sexy, she must be a whore. It makes it difficult for Black women to be fully complex. I’m playful, anybody who hangs out with me knows that, but I am also a dead-serious intellectual woman who is on the job.” Trailblazing and popular feminist scholar bell hooks died Dec. 15. She was 69. | By Harrison Smith

She was often credited with drawing women of color, working-class women and others into a feminist movement that was centered on White middle-class mothers and wives. | By María Luisa Paúl

Jerry Pinkney, children’s book illustrator who celebrated African American people and culture

Greg Tate, a musician and writer acclaimed as a preeminent critic of hip-hop music and culture

Cheslie Kryst wins the 2019 Miss USA competition in Reno, Nev.
Cheslie Kryst wins the 2019 Miss USA competition in Reno, Nev. (Reno Gazette-Journal/AP)

Cheslie Kryst, who won the 2019 Miss USA pageant and worked as a correspondent for the entertainment news television show “Extra,” died Jan. 30 in New York City. She was 30 years old. Her victory came in a historic year that saw Black women win all five major beauty pageants. Kryst wore her crown on top of her natural curls. In “There She Was,” a history of the Miss America pageant published last year, Post editor Amy Argetsinger wrote that the moment marked a triumph for the “movement of African-American women trying to overturn the rigid old beauty standards that forced generations into the painful conformity of flat-ironing or chemically straightening their hair.” | By Reis Thebault and Hannah Knowles

Slavery and freedom

Even after abolition, the Black experience has fallen victim to campaigns that obscure the darkest parts of the American story, diminishing African Americans’ connections to their pasts and warping the collective memory of the nation’s history. But in recent years, Black Americans have pursued new efforts to uncover their stories. From exploring sunken vessels of the Middle Passage to reconstructing museum exhibits that chronicle slavery, African Americans are breaking down the barriers that separate them from their ancestors and reconnecting with a lineage once lost. Explore The Descendants project. | By Nicole Ellis

Sharswood in Gretna, Va., was built in the middle of the 19th century and at one point was the hub of a sprawling plantation. The Pittsylvania County property now consists of 10½ acres. Out of the frame behind the large tree at right is a cabin that may have been used by enslaved people as a kitchen and laundry for the main house as well as a residence.
Sharswood in Gretna, Va., was built in the middle of the 19th century and at one point was the hub of a sprawling plantation. The Pittsylvania County property now consists of 10½ acres. Out of the frame behind the large tree at right is a cabin that may have been used by enslaved people as a kitchen and laundry for the main house as well as a residence. (Heather Rousseau for The Washington Post)

An old Virginia plantation, a new owner and a family legacy unveiled For Fredrick Miller, the 10½-acre estate he’d purchased for $225,000 ended up not being just a future gathering spot for the family, but also its first traceable point in the United States — an astonishing revelation for him. | By Joe Heim

Two tourists walk along the Valongo Wharf in Rio de Janeiro. The site is considered the most important physical trace of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the Americas.
Two tourists walk along the Valongo Wharf in Rio de Janeiro. The site is considered the most important physical trace of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the Americas.

More enslaved Africans came to the Americas through this port than anywhere else. Why have so few heard of it? Brazil it imported nearly 5 million enslaved Africans — an estimated 40 percent of the transatlantic slave trade — and in 1888 was the last country in the Western Hemisphere to abolish slavery. | By Terrence McCoy

For the 50 million students attending public school in America, how they are taught about America’s history of slavery and its deprivations is as fundamental as how they are taught about the Declaration of Independence and its core assertion that “all men are created equal.” A deep understanding of one without a deep understanding of the other is to not know America at all. | By Joe Heim

A Black Lives Matter sign in front of a home in Evanston, Ill., last year.
A Black Lives Matter sign in front of a home in Evanston, Ill., last year. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Evanston, Ill., leads the country with first reparations program for Black residents The nation’s first government reparations program for African Americans was approved in March in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, offering homeownership and improvement grants and mortgage assistance for Black residents. | By Mark Guarino

But scholars A. Kirsten Mullen and William A. Darity Jr. argue that the city’s program isn’t reparations.

Race in America: A conversation with Clint Smith, author of “How the Word is Passed,” who traveled to nine locations, including the Whitney Plantation in Louisiana, to examine how slavery is remembered.

Movement for racial justice
A Black Voters Matter event at in Jackson, Miss., last year.
A Black Voters Matter event at in Jackson, Miss., last year. (Joshua Lott/The Washington Post)

Voting rights activists on ‘Freedom Ride’ say their work will continue even after Senate Republicans block election reform bill Just as it took intense public pressure to force Congress and President Lyndon B. Johnson to pass the Voting Rights Act in 1965, groups like Black Voters Matter have stepped up their efforts to push the federal government to again intervene to protect voting rights for people of color and young and low-income Americans. | By Vanessa Williams

Video: Why there’s even more pressure on Congress to protect voting rights.

C.T. Vivian prays in front of Sheriff Jim Clark on the courthouse steps in Selma, Ala., on Feb. 5, 1965. Ten days later, Clark would punch Vivian in the face at the same spot.
C.T. Vivian prays in front of Sheriff Jim Clark on the courthouse steps in Selma, Ala., on Feb. 5, 1965. Ten days later, Clark would punch Vivian in the face at the same spot. (Horace Cort/AP)

The voting rights push in Selma was one of the defining moments of the civil rights movement. But before Selma was Selma, it was another local front in the movement struggling for national media attention. How Selma finally broke through is recounted in civil rights leader C.T. Vivian’s posthumous memoir, “It’s in the Action: Memories of a Nonviolent Warrior.” | By Gillian Brockell

Perspective: The education sector hasn’t done enough to teach Americans about racism’s causes and to prepare us for its consequences. | By Ruth Simmons

Racism denied Auburn’s first Black student a master’s degree. Then, at 86, he returned. | By DeNeen L. Brown

A mural in Brunswick, Ga., supporting Black Lives Matter. Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed in the area’s Satilla Shores neighborhood in February 2020.
A mural in Brunswick, Ga., supporting Black Lives Matter. Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed in the area’s Satilla Shores neighborhood in February 2020.

After Ahmaud Arbery’s Death, This Group Demanded Change Arbery’s killing sparked residents to band together to try to force Glynn County, Ga., to confront the many failures of its law enforcement and other elected officials. | By Margaret Coker

Murals and flowers in Minneapolis in January.
Murals and flowers in Minneapolis in January. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Darnella Frazier, the teen who filmed George Floyd’s murder, awarded a Pulitzer citation. The Pulitzer board said her video highlighted “the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quest for truth and justice.” | By Elahe Izadi

Image without caption
(Emily Wright)

Marshals Service employees have alleged racism for decades. Their case may finally be heard In interviews with The Post, current and former Black employees of the Marshals Service, one of the country’s oldest federal law enforcement agencies, detailed allegations of racial bias. | By Hannah Knowles

Barbara Pope.
Barbara Pope.

In August 1906, Barbara Pope boarded a train at Union Station and traveled into Virginia, in the process challenging the state’s Jim Crow law requiring segregation on trains and streetcars. Her case became one of the first steps along the path to the end of legal segregation — leading the way toward the NAACP’s hallmark 1954 Supreme Court victory in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. The Rosa Parks of D.C. | By David A. Taylor

A protester shouts, “No justice, no peace” as state police block the road May 29 in Minneapolis. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)
A protester shouts, “No justice, no peace” as state police block the road May 29 in Minneapolis. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

The Post’s six-part series examines the role systemic racism played throughout George Floyd’s 46-year life. The reporting explores the institutional and societal roadblocks Floyd encountered as a Black man from his birth in 1973 until his death. | By Post Staff

Politics
Vice President Harris in June.
Vice President Harris in June. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)

“Every American has a right to have their voice heard at the ballot box, and no American should be kept from voting early, voting by mail or voting at all. Our democracy is strongest when everyone participates, and it is weaker when people are left out.” — Vice President Harris

With voting rights role, Harris takes on weightiest challenge yet as vice president | By Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Mike DeBonis and Sean Sullivan

The Rev. Raphael G. Warnock in Marietta, Ga.
The Rev. Raphael G. Warnock in Marietta, Ga. (Kevin D. Liles for The Washington Post)

Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D) elected in a special election last year as Georgia’s first Black senator, is running for a full term this year. During a January debate, he urged his colleagues to change Senate rules to pass federal voting rights legislation, comparing the vote to late activist and congressman John Lewis’s bloody trip across a Selma, Ala., bridge during a 1965 voting rights march. “We’re talking about a procedural bridge,” he said. “I’m still praying that we will cross that bridge. But if not tonight, we will come back again and again and again.”

Opinion: Raphael Warnock, the freshman senator not playing it safe First-year senators typically don’t make many waves. Black politicians who represent large numbers of White voters often shy away from issues related to race. Warnock is breaking all the rules. | By Perry Bacon

Stacey Abrams in 2020.
Stacey Abrams in 2020. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Stacey Abrams became the first Black woman in U.S. history to win the gubernatorial nomination of either major party. After narrowly losing the Georgia governor’s race in 2018, she focused on voter education and registration and is credited with helping Democrats turn Georgia blue, winning both the presidential contest and two Senate seats in 2020 and 2021. She is making a second bid for governor of Georgia this year. Abrams said in her announcement video that she was running because “opportunity and success in Georgia shouldn’t be determined by your Zip code, background or access to power.” As Stacey Abrams enters governor’s race, Georgia becomes a key 2022 battleground | By Tim Craig and Vanessa Williams

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) speaks on Capitol Hill in June. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) speaks on Capitol Hill in June. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

As the only Black GOP senator, Tim Scott (R-S.C.) has walked a delicate line between schooling his colleagues — and former president Donald Trump — on matters of race and remaining silent. It’s an unenviable position to be the one senator asked constantly to account for Trump’s language and policies on race because that one senator happens to be Black. | By Ben Terris

Virginia lieutenant governor Earle-Sears makes her mark in Richmond during tumultuous first week The first woman of color to hold statewide office in the commonwealth, Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears, only had to gavel the Senate into session for the first time to draw the approval of nearly 34,000 people on Twitter. | By Antonio Olivo and Laura Vozzella

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones stands for a portrait during a food distribution event in the city's Walnut Park East neighborhood on July 21.
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones stands for a portrait during a food distribution event in the city's Walnut Park East neighborhood on July 21. (Nick Schnelle for The Washington Post)

The first Black woman to run St. Louis is shaking up the city with a war on normal Tishaura Jones unapologetically champions progressive policy ideas long dismissed as fringe and doesn’t seem to mind whom she might alienate along the way. | By Griff Witte

At the turn of the 20th century — more than 50 years after the first women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls — many White women remained opposed to suffrage, fearing a fall from their domestic pedestals. Meanwhile, Black women, with less to lose and so much to gain, were almost uniformly in favor of the vote. Deltas: The Black sorority that faced racism in the suffrage movement but refused to walk away. | By Sydney Trent

Business and the economy
Image without caption

A harvest for the world: A Black family farm is fighting racism in agriculture and climate change Leah Penniman, 41, Soul Fire Farm, is a leading spokesperson for the movement to increase the ranks of Black, Brown and Indigenous farmers. “People are blowing up our phones, blowing up our inbox, wanting to come to the farm,” said her sister, Naima Penniman. | By Darryl Fears

Image without caption

Corporate America’s $50 billion promise After the murder of George Floyd ignited nationwide protests, corporate America acknowledged it could no longer stay silent and promised to take an active role in confronting systemic racism. A Post analysis of racial justice pledges reveals the limits of corporate power to effect change. | By Tracy Jan

April Christina Curley, a former diversity recruiter at Google.
April Christina Curley, a former diversity recruiter at Google. (Bridget Bennett for the Washington Post)

Google’s approach to historically Black schools helps explain why there are few Black engineers in Big Tech The company tried to recruit engineers by partnering with HBCUs. Critics say the program exposed how the search giant fell short. | By Nitasha Tiku

Image without caption

“Companies say they want to tackle systemic racism, but people are so uncomfortable talking about race,” said Mary-Frances Winters, whose consulting firm works with corporations on diversity, equity and inclusion. “Most of our clients do not want to talk about ‘white supremacy’ culture. They are most comfortable using terms like ‘belonging’ and ‘inclusion’ because they are nice terms.”

The striking race gap in corporate America A Washington Post review of the 50 most valuable public companies reveals that Black employees represent a strikingly small fraction of top executives — and that the people tapped to boost inclusion often struggle to do so. | By Tracy Jan

Roz Brewer, the only Black woman who helms a Fortune 500 company who is now in charge of Walgreens’ vaccine rollout, recounts an encounter she had with a male CEO who mistakenly asked her if she worked in marketing or merchandising departments at a CEO-only event. | By Jena McGregor

Trey Brown, CEO of the clothing brand Spergo, in September.
Trey Brown, CEO of the clothing brand Spergo, in September. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

In 2017, the year Trey Brown turned 12, he was horrified to hear about teens just a little older than he was getting caught up in violence in Philadelphia. “I wanted to be a light to the youth,” says Brown. He came up with a plan to show other kids there was an alternative path: He’d start a clothing line. He saved $178 of his birthday money and got his mom, Sherell Peterson, on board. Teen entrepreneur Trey Brown willed his clothing line into reality. Now Spergo has arrived in D.C. | By Vicky Hallett

Military
Pilots of the 332nd Fighter Wing who won first place for propeller-driven aircraft in Las Vegas.
Pilots of the 332nd Fighter Wing who won first place for propeller-driven aircraft in Las Vegas.

73 years after winning first ‘Top Gun’ competition, Black pilots are honored The all-Black fighter and bomber group’s 1949 victory was omitted either accidentally or through intentional oversight until this year. | By Dave Kindy

Members of the 6888th battalion in Birmingham, England, in 1945.
Members of the 6888th battalion in Birmingham, England, in 1945. (U.S. Army Women's Museum)

This unit of Black women made history in World War II. They’re finally getting broader recognition. This year, the Senate passed a bill that would give the 6888th a Congressional Gold Medal — an honor their advocates have been fighting for since 2019. | By Anne Branigin

Art and artifacts
William Wilson, 64, spent 21 years in the military and 22 years as a police officer.
William Wilson, 64, spent 21 years in the military and 22 years as a police officer. (Christian K. Lee)

Armed doesn’t mean dangerous. Photographer Christian K. Lee’s photo essay aims to “recondition myself, and others, toward the more positive view of Black people and guns: to promote a more balanced archive of images of African Americans with firearms by showing responsible gun owners — those who use these weapons for sport, hobby and protection. I hope these photos bring that important point into focus.”

Actress Issa Rae.
Actress Issa Rae. (Brinson+Banks for The Washington Post)

Analysis: ‘Insecure’ and the defiant come-up of Issa Rae Any hand-wringing over how universal the show may or may not be misses the point: “Insecure” is relatable because it’s about real life. But it’s also very specifically about Black young men and women living in South Los Angeles. | By Bethonie Butler

Perspective: The book “Vanguard” recounts how many suffragists and lawmakers who sought to ratify the 19th Amendment accommodated and, in some cases, embraced anti-Black racism even as they worked to expand access to a fundamental democratic right. Jim Crow laws — poll taxes, literacy tests and more — prevented Black women from casting ballots for decades after the 19th Amendment became law in 1920. Black history is often shunned — like the book I wrote. | By Martha S. Jones

Regina King, center, in “The Harder They Fall.”
Regina King, center, in “The Harder They Fall.” (Netflix/AP)

Casting Black actors in period pieces isn’t diversity. It’s history. Historical accuracy is usually the explanation offered when fans point out the glaring lack of diversity, as if women and people of color didn’t exist before 1960. | By Helena Andrews-Dyer

A 2020 strip from Ray Billingsley’s Reuben Award-winning “Curtis” blends heart and humor during the pandemic.
A 2020 strip from Ray Billingsley’s Reuben Award-winning “Curtis” blends heart and humor during the pandemic. (King Features Syndicate)

Cartoonist Ray Billingsley has been portraying Black family life for decades — and now he’s getting his due In October 1988, King Features launched Billingsley’s comic strip “Curtis,” centering on the 11-year-old title character and brother Barry, and featuring a predominantly Black cast, which was rare in syndicated comics of the era. In 2021, Billingsley won the Reuben Award for outstanding cartoonist of the year. It was the 75th year of the National Cartoonists Society’s peer-voted prize — whose legendary recipients include Charles Schulz, Matt Groening, Rube Goldberg and Roz Chast — but the first time that it has been won by a Black creator, according to comics historians. | Michael Cavna

Image without caption

The strange journey of ‘cancel,’ from a Black-culture punchline to a White-grievance watchword The 1980s song “Your Love Is Cancelled,” by the disco group Chic, was not a hit. But the idea of “canceling” a person for unacceptable behavior has taken its own journey. | By Clyde McGrady

Author Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Author Ta-Nehisi Coates. (Elias Williams for The Washington Post)

Analysis: Ta-Nehisi Coates took Black Panther to dark places — and it paid off After five years, it comes to an end: the acclaimed run of one of the most important Black minds of a generation scripting the most important Black superhero of all time. | By David Betancourt

-----------------------------

A couple dances at the Elks Lodge in Highland Park, Mich., in August.
A couple dances at the Elks Lodge in Highland Park, Mich., in August. (J. Lester Feder for The Washington Post)

Between dances. A community of urban ballroom dancers in Detroit has been decimated by covid. But the survivors aim to keep on dancing. | By J. Lester Feder

Music
Motown Records founder Berry Gordy.
Motown Records founder Berry Gordy. (Jessica Pons for The Washington Post)

Berry Gordy wanted to make the world ‘weep with joy’ Motown became a form of diplomacy that crossed racial boundaries: “I felt that people were way more alike than different.” | By Robin Givhan

Questlove attends a screening of “Summer Of Soul” in Los Angeles last year.
Questlove attends a screening of “Summer Of Soul” in Los Angeles last year. (Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

The best music festival in 1969? Hint: It wasn’t Woodstock. “Summer of Soul (... Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised),” a documentary by Questlove, introduces the world to the nearly forgotten Harlem Cultural Festival, which had arguably superior performances to Woodstock’s. | By Geoff Edgers

Young Dolph performs in Atlanta in 2020.
Young Dolph performs in Atlanta in 2020.

Perspective: Rap music doesn’t have a gun problem. America has a gun problem. We’re all living in an increasingly lethal place, and nobody seems to be in control. Young Dolph’s heaviest rhymes made this lethal world feel lighter | By Chris Richards

In December 2010, a mysterious banjo tune popped up on a website devoted to early recordings. Even by that definition, this song stood out. It dated to when Grover Cleveland occupied the White House, opening with a crackle before the steady voice of Charles Asbury introduces himself and his performance of “Haul the Woodpile Down.” This mysterious recording was the missing musical link to an era when racism was the tune. | By Geoff Edgers

Sports
Naomi Osaka, left, and Simone Biles showed it's okay not to be okay.
Naomi Osaka, left, and Simone Biles showed it's okay not to be okay. (Paul White, Gregory Bull/AP)

Perspective: Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles and the enduring sports message of 2021 At a time when so many among us are struggling with darkness, loneliness and sorrow in this public health catastrophe, Osaka and Biles — no matter how vulnerable on a world stage — showed us we shouldn’t feel ashamed if we don’t feel okay. | Kevin B. Blackistone

Image without caption
(Desiree Kelly for The Washington Post)

The Nine Baseball is confronting a decline in African American players. The stories of these nine athletes demonstrate why — and what — the sport can do to turn the tide. | By The Washington Post

How the NBA’s 75th anniversary sweeps away its early history Teams belonging to the National Basketball League, a precursor to the NBA, signed multiple Black players in the 1942-43 season, marking the first time that several Black men would be playing alongside Whites. In fact, the Chicago Studebakers team was majority-Black. Not until the mid-1960s would the NBA field a majority-Black team. | By Curtis Harris

Gideon Tinch, center, and Reginald Speight, right, talk with longtime coach and teacher Lucille Hester, left, during the annual Turkey Bowl.
Gideon Tinch, center, and Reginald Speight, right, talk with longtime coach and teacher Lucille Hester, left, during the annual Turkey Bowl. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Perspective: As D.C.’s Black population shrinks, the Turkey Bowl is one of the few traditions that endures For native Washingtonians of a certain age, and a certain race, the Turkey Bowl is more than just the annual D.C. public schools championship game. It’s coming home. It’s celebrating the traditions of their youth and remembering a time before the city, which was once called chocolate, transitioned into something closer to a vanilla latte. | By Candace Buckner

Brunswick High School football coach Jason Vaughn in Georgia on Sept. 1. (Stephen B. Morton for The Washington Post)
Brunswick High School football coach Jason Vaughn in Georgia on Sept. 1. (Stephen B. Morton for The Washington Post)

“People on the low have told me I could lose my job for this. A lot of people told me not to do it. People told me to stop stirring trouble. I became an agitator in my hometown, for talking about a guy who was murdered in his community. But one of the great things about coaching: I got more support from the community than I got threats.” Jason Vaughn emerged as a leading advocate for justice for Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man — and his former linebacker — who was shot and killed after being chased by armed White men while jogging in a local neighborhood. | By Roman Stubbs

Family and relationships
From left, Regina Tucker, Shauniece Morris, Anowa Adjah and Mikaela Pabon at the Momference in D.C. on May 18, 2019. (Dayna Smith for The Washington Post)
From left, Regina Tucker, Shauniece Morris, Anowa Adjah and Mikaela Pabon at the Momference in D.C. on May 18, 2019. (Dayna Smith for The Washington Post)

For Black women, looking after their mental and emotional well-being is just as or more important than taking your prenatal vitamin every morning. The existential stress can take a toll. Coverage of the community has revolved around high maternal mortality rates, but Helena Andrews-Dyer needed to read an article about joy. This is it. This isn’t another horror story about Black motherhood. | By Helena Andrews-Dyer

‘A dog whistle and a lie’: Black parents on the critical race theory debate During Virginia’s governor’s race last year, Rakelle Mullenix read and watched countless news stories about the fervor among parents over the teaching of critical race theory and about racism in local schools. “It seems as though Black and Brown voices were ignored, and the voices were centered on White parents and their concerns,” Mullenix says. | By Leslie Gray Streeter

Perspective: With ‘Alma’s Way’ on PBS Kids, Afro-Latino children finally have characters they can relate to This show will share the life, experiences and shenanigans, of Alma Rivera, an adorable 6-year-old girl growing up in the Bronx. Alma’s family, friends and neighborhood makes up every shade of you brown you might see in the Bronx. This makes it impossible to mistake Alma as anything but Afro-Latino. | By Adiba Nelson

For interracial couples, Vice President Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff are a “monumental” symbol. Together Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants who identifies culturally as Black, and Emhoff, a Jewish entertainment lawyer, represent yet another less-heralded first: the first interracial couple at the highest reaches of the executive branch. | By Sydney Trent

Tierra Haynes and her husband, Maryland basketball assistant DeAndre Haynes, with their children  — Dre, Devon and Dallas. (Kelsey Price)
Tierra Haynes and her husband, Maryland basketball assistant DeAndre Haynes, with their children — Dre, Devon and Dallas. (Kelsey Price)

Tierra and DeAndre Haynes want their boys to see an array of career paths. So Tierra wrote a children’s book about the first African American to go to space. | By Emily Giambalvo

Food
Image without caption
(Scott Suchman for the Washington Post)

This is for us, by us. We’re talking to each other, we’re sharing our stories and best practices and joys and some sorrows and everything in between. And we will invite the world to look at what we’re doing, but this is for us and let’s not even think about the White gaze. And I feel like we pull that off. This feels like a love letter to our food traditions, history, ingredients, practices — everything that has sustained us.”— Bryant Terry, award-winning author of ‘Black Food,’ discusses plant-based eating and where he finds inspiration | By Aaron Hutcherson

Chefs Todd Richards, left, and Josh Lee at Lake & Oak Neighborhood BBQ in Atlanta on Aug. 29. (Diwang Valdez for The Washington Post)
Chefs Todd Richards, left, and Josh Lee at Lake & Oak Neighborhood BBQ in Atlanta on Aug. 29. (Diwang Valdez for The Washington Post)

When Todd Richards and Joshua Lee first met in 2015, they were executive chefs at two restaurants owned by the same company, two blocks apart in downtown Atlanta. They soon realized they shared a bigger goal: to own restaurants outright, so they could help more Black people and other people of color discover and harness their passions in and around the kitchen. | By Christopher A. Daniel

Image without caption
(iStock; Washington Post illustration)

For these Black women in the diaspora, holding on to family recipes is a means of preserving culture It’s through passed-down knowledge of flavors and ingredients that Black families emulate recipes from their ancestors, they say, and continue to honor an integral part of their culture. | By Sierra Lyons