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.

Also be sure to read about the University Senate's new Ad Hoc Advisory Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion.


Ota Benga, Captive: The Man the Bronx Zoo Kept in a Cage  

Photo: newspaper illustration of Ota Benga holding a chimpanzee; background has descriptive text from newspaper article, and graphical lines

On Sunday, September 9, 1906, throngs of spectators filed in to the New York Zoological Gardens—better known as the Bronx Zoo—to gape at a new Primate House exhibit. Those deep in the crowd may have struggled to make out the sign on the cage:

Age, 23 years. Height, 4 feet 11 inches.
Weight 103 pound. Brought from the Kasai River,
Congo Free State, South Central Africa,
By Dr Samuel P Verner.
Exhibited each afternoon during September 

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



Gaudy, Sure—But Racist Too? Unpacking Centuries of 'Blackamoor' Art

photograph: two "Blackamoor" figurines; a man and a woman in turbans, each carrying bowls on their heads

Gaudy by nature, and uncomfortably dated—a bit like the American lawn jockey, or Aunt Jemima doll—the Blackamoors aren’t exactly highlights in the expansive art collection of La Pietra, a Florentine villa bequeathed to NYU by Sir Harold Acton in 1994. But while historians haven’t always championed them, Blackamoors are still a thriving industry, with the United States as their no. 1 importer.


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.” 

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.

Turnstile Freestyle


Mississippi in Black and White: Freedom Summer 50 Years Later 





NYU's 11th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Week is Feb. 1-6. This year's theme is "There Comes a Time..." and the University-wide event on Thursday, Feb. 4 features Misty Copeland, TJ Holmes, Karyn Parson, and Linda Sarsour.

The Gallatin school offers an extensive monthlong schedule of events, including including an exhibition by and talk with South African photographer and visual activist Zanele Muholi, “Black Men Can’t Jump in Hollywood,” a live podcast, and “No Revolution Without Us,” a conversation featuring former Black Panther Lynn French. To kick things off on Feb. 1, Salamishah Tillet, associate professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, speaks with Lynn C. French, former Black Panther, attorney, and advocate for the homeless, about the fight for gender equality within and beyond the Panthers.

Steinhardt hosts an oratorical contest in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s memory on Feb. 2.

On Feb. 3, the University of Chicago's Sarah Gaither lectures on interracial interactions and social identity.

Steinhardt hosts Conversations of Color, a discussion about diversity over lunch, on Feb. 11.

On Feb. 16, Phillip Brian Harper, professor of literature in the NYU Departments of Social and Cultural Analysis and English, delivers the College of Arts and Science Bentson Dean’s Lecture "What's So Great About Keeping It Real?"—a social critique in African-American culture.

Feb. 19 is African Take Over Day, when students are invited to wear African clothing or accessories throughout the day and attend a party in Kimmel 914 at night.

On Feb. 19-20, Tisch reconstructs a selection of panels from the Black Portraiture[s] II: Imaging the Black Body and Re-staging Histories conference held at Villa LA Pietra in Florence.

Kimmel will be home to an African Heritage Month closing ceremony on Feb. 27.