From the NYU Stories archive—a collection of videos and articles to revisit for Black History Month.

And from the events calendar: A lineup of discussions around race and heritage this February at NYU.

The Bitter and the Sublime: Deb Willis on African American History Through Photographs


When Long Island Was the Eugenics Capital of the World


Brown at 60: Has Desegregation Stalled?

Photo: A line of African-American and white school girls in a classroom

In May of 1954, the Supreme Court unanimously declared that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal,” setting a precedent for ending legally sanctioned racial segregation not just in schools, but in all sectors of American society. The landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling, which overturned the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision upholding the constitutionality of state laws requiring that black and white children be taught separately, paved the way for the integration of schools, a process to be delegated to district courts and carried out, as a subsequent decision urged, “with all deliberate speed.”  [Read More]

NYU Stories Salon: (Not Talking About Race)


How Harlem's Rattlers Changed the Face of the American Military


Melville, Obama, and the Ship That Flipped the Slave Narrative

Photo: Book Cover of "The Empire of Necessity" by Greg Grandin

Long before 12 Years a Slave, Django Unchained, or even Amistad were nominated for Academy Awards, there was another suspenseful story about the brutalities of the slavery—one that so stunned Ralph Ellison that he borrowed a line from it for an epigraph to his groundbreaking novel on race in America, The Invisible Man. In 1855, Herman Melville published the novella Benito Cereno, which follows Amasa Delano, an American sea captain who answers a call for help from a battered ship off the coast of Chile, in the South Pacific. As he observes the strange social interactions between the vessel’s white crew and black slave “cargo,” Delano—a liberal opposed, in theory, to slavery—finds himself yearning for a servant to closely attend to his needs the way the African Babo seems to dote upon his master, the Spanish captain Benito Cereno. [Read More]

Turnstile Freestyle


Mississippi in Black and White: Freedom Summer 50 Years Later 


What's in a Name? A Lot, When You're Talking Race

Photo: A page from a dictionary. featuring different definitions of "race".

There’s a new discussion group whose name is generating excitement, debate, curiosity, criticism—and a fair amount of misinformation around campus.

The offending title? White Administrators Talk Race, or WATR.

In the wake of the decisions not to indict police officers who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island—when many NYU students, faculty and staff took to the streets to express anger and sadness over racial injustice—the group’s name struck some as especially tone-deaf. Did the name mean that people of color weren’t invited? Didn’t white administrators already have ample opportunities to express their thoughts in countless forums and decision-making bodies across the university? And even assuming they had the best intentions, how much good could a roomful of white people talking about diversity possibly do?  [Read More]




NYU's 10th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Week is Feb. 2-7. This year's theme is "Beyond a Dream," and the University-wide event on Thursday, Feb. 5 features Donna Brazile, Nikki Giovanni, and Talib Kweli.

Shades, the club for LGBTQ students of color and their allies, meets on Feb. 9 and Feb. 23.

Historians Peniel Joseph and Yohuru Williams give a lecture, "We Are Revolutionaries": What Black Power Tells Us About Democary in America, on Feb. 10.

Steinhardt hosts Conversations of Color, a discussion about diversity over lunch, on Feb. 12.

Trans Women of Color Collective and #BlackLivesMatter explore the vitality and visibility of justice movements in a panel discussion, "LGBTQ Black Bodies and Coalition Building in the 21st Century," on Feb. 12.

NYU's Black Allied Law Students Association's 2015 Black History Month Gala is Feb. 12. This year's theme is "Fifty Years Since the Voting Rights Act: The Current State of Civil Rights in America."

The documentary Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People, inspired by Tisch department of photography and imaging chair Deb Willis's book Reflections in Black, premieres on Feb. 16 on PBS. Willis is a co-producer.

The NYU Bookstore celebrates African American History Month on Feb. 17 with filmmaker Bennett Singer and author Walter Naegle at a screening and reading to celebrate civil rights activist Bayard Rustin.

Celebrating the publication of sociologist Michael Gould-Wartofsky's new book, The Occupiers: The Making of the 99 Percent Movement, a Feb. 17 Gallatin forum will explore the ways in which the Occupy movement has remained active and influential since Zuccotti Park.  

Two Artists, Two Visions, an exhibition at the Gallery Space at Wagner, opens February 17 with a reception and discussion featuring Jacqueline Bishop and Alex Merchant. The show, co-sponsored by the NYU Wagner Black Student Association and curated by NYU Gallatin’s Ann Chwatsky and NYU Wagner’s Frankie Crescioni-Santoni, is on through April 24.

Gallatin presents The Transformations Suite, a five-movement work combining spoken word and music in the tradition of artists such as Marvin Gaye, Billie Holiday, and Tupac Shakur, on Feb. 20. The Suite paints a musical picture of the current state of social inequality and injustice in the United States.

On Feb. 23, NYU historians Marilyn Young and Jeffrey Sammons lead a screening and discussion of The Anderson Platoon, an Oscar-winning documentary on a Vietnam War army unit led by Lt. Joseph B. Anderson, Jr.