Website Aims to Highlight Hidden Figures in Black HistoryHistorians in the News
tags: African American history, Black History Month, Black History, newspapers
A few years back, Matthew Delmont felt his teaching about African American history had gotten a little stale so he starting casting around for a fresh way to bring it to life.
The Dartmouth College professor initially turned to Twitter for a year to share stories about the everyday lives of African Americans that he read about in black newspapers. That project expanded in November to become the website Black Quotidian, which features profiles of hundreds of African Americans taken from black newspapers mostly between the 1900s and the 1980s. It also contains scanned articles from about a dozen papers like the Chicago Defender and Pittsburgh Courier along with audio recordings, photos and videos.
“l felt like my students were coming away from the class only thinking African American history was about these civil right marches or about martyrs,” said Delmont, who started his project in 2016 at Arizona State University before completing it at Dartmouth. “I felt like they spent so much time thinking about black death that they were losing sight of the broader complexity, really the beautiful aspects of African American history.”
Mostly black-and-white and looking in some ways like a copy of a decades-old newspaper, the website features African Americans who made their mark in sports, politics and voting, the military and several other areas. And while there are mentions of icons like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, Delmont keeps the focus on the lesser known figures.