Black History Month

“For while we have our eyes on the future,history has its eyes on us. This is the era of just redemption we feared at its inception.”

- Amanda Gorman

Black History Month 2021

Updated Feb. 24 at 2:25 p.m.Originally published Feb. 1, 2021

History has its eyes on us.

What a topical message for what will undoubtedly be known as a historical moment. A pandemic that has killed more than 500,000 people — a disproportionate number of them Black Americans. A movement for racial justice that drove thousands to protest for months. A reckoning with history that has prompted the Pentagon to strip Confederate names from bases. It’s no wonder the words of poet Amanda Gorman, referencing the musical “Hamilton,” struck such a chord with her audience on Inauguration Day.

Black History Month is a time we pay tribute to the heroes and heroines of U.S. history and recognize the vast contributions they’ve made to American culture. To showcase their stories, The Washington Post compiled a selection of recently published stories and columns that represent Black excellence and triumph.

This page will update throughout the month of February.

Most recent
The Washington Post (Photos courtesy of W. Caleb McDaniel and David Blackman)
The Washington Post (Photos courtesy of W. Caleb McDaniel and David Blackman)

After the Civil War, Henrietta Wood won a reparations lawsuit after suing the man who’d kidnapped her back into slavery. Yet the story was lost to her own family. | By Sydney Trent

African Americans, who were part of the Army cavalry units known as Buffalo Soldiers, were brought in to teach horsemanship to cadets at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., in 1907. In the 1920s, they played on a segregated football team.
African Americans, who were part of the Army cavalry units known as Buffalo Soldiers, were brought in to teach horsemanship to cadets at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., in 1907. In the 1920s, they played on a segregated football team. (National Archives and Records Administration)

A recent digitization project found a dozen old pictures showing Black soldiers at West Point, including the one above showing an all-Black football team in the 1920s. Units of the famous African American troops known as Buffalo Soldiers were brought to West Point to teach horsemanship to cadets in 1907. Superb and experienced riders, they taught cadets the fine points of horsemanship and put on horse shows. But they clashed with White soldiers and were not allowed to walk through the all-White cadets’ area of campus unless on business, historians say. | By Michael E. Ruane

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

Malcolm X in D.C. in 1963. (AP)
Malcolm X in D.C. in 1963. (AP)

Family members of Malcolm X have revealed a letter written by a New York police officer that they say shows the NYPD and the FBI were behind the 1965 assassination of the famed Black leader. The 2011 letter by the now-dead officer, Raymond A. Wood, stated that Wood had been compelled by his supervisors at the New York Police Department to coax two members of Malcolm X’s security team into committing crimes, leading to their arrests just a few days before the assassination. | By Sydney Trent

Iris Haq Lukolyo, 10, is the only Black student in her fifth-grade class. She spoke up when slavery wasn’t included in a lesson plan and later penned an essay about the experience that went viral. | By Julianne McShane

The new movie “Judas and the Black Messiah” explores the role FBI informant William O’Neal played in the death of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton. The film captures Hampton’s dedication, eloquence, occasionally violent rhetoric and commitment to Black empowerment. O’Neal struggles with his dual role as a party member and FBI informant as he becomes increasingly sympathetic to the Panthers and their leader. | By Robert Mitchell

5 Black women tell the stories of their lives, in their own words | By The Lily

Cecil Haney served as commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and the U.S. Strategic Command. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)
Cecil Haney served as commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and the U.S. Strategic Command. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

Cecil Haney became one of the Navy’s first Black four-star admirals. The military has work to do on diversity, he says. | By Dan Lamothe

Kerry James Marshall’s “Souvenir II,” 1997. (Addison Gallery of American Art/Courtesy New Museum)
Kerry James Marshall’s “Souvenir II,” 1997. (Addison Gallery of American Art/Courtesy New Museum)

Review: Nigerian curator Okwui Enwezor’s final art show explores Black grief from the civil rights era to now. Remarkable in its quality, emotional force and concision, it features work by many of this country’s most acclaimed Black artists — among them Carrie Mae Weems, Mark Bradford, Lorna Simpson, Kerry James Marshall, Theaster Gates and Kara Walker. | By Sebastian Smee

Virettia Whiteside in Mayfair Manor's Community Room. (Jared Ragland for The Washington Post)
Virettia Whiteside in Mayfair Manor's Community Room. (Jared Ragland for The Washington Post)

Virettia Whiteside, a recently elected Black councilwoman, contends with defiance from a community she wants to serve after upending a racial norm in the rural South. She was the first to win outside the traditionally Black ward, breaking through what had seemed to her and other Black residents of Fayette to be the informal Rule of One. One Black person on the City Council. One on the zoning board. One on the gas board. One on the abatement board in a town that was roughly 73 percent White and 24 percent Black. Always one, a situation that had long described the reality of entrenched White power outside big Southern cities like Birmingham, Ala., or Atlanta. | By Stephanie McCrummen

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

In tribute to the lives lost
Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) in 2019.
Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) in 2019. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

“I follow my conscience, not my complexion.” John Lewis, a civil rights and congressional leader, died at the age of 80 on July 17. The Georgia Democrat spent three decades in Congress defending the gains he had helped achieve for people of color as a 1960s civil rights leader. | By Post Staff

Katherine Johnson, NASA mathematician and inspiration for the film “Hidden Figures”

John Thompson Jr., first Black coach to win the NCAA championship

Lucile Bridges, mother who stood by her daughter Ruby through school desegregation

Fred “Curly” Neal, dribbling “wizard” of the Globetrotters

Bob Gibson, intimidating Hall of Fame pitcher with a blazing fastball

Chadwick Boseman in 2013.
Chadwick Boseman in 2013. (Matt McClain For The Washington Post)

“Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history.” Chadwick Boseman portrayed monumental figures like Jackie Robinson and Marvel superhero Black Panther. | By Matt Schudel

Bill Withers, Grammy-winning writer and singer of “Lean on Me”

Stanley Crouch, combative writer, intellectual and authority on jazz

David Dinkins, New York City’s first Black mayor

Johnny Nash, singer-songwriter of “I Can See Clearly Now”

Actress Cicely Tyson in 2008.
Actress Cicely Tyson in 2008. (W.A.Harewood/AP)

“I wait for roles — first, to be written for a woman, then, to be written for a Black woman,” Cicely Tyson told the Entertainment News Service in 1997. “And then I have the audacity to be selective about the kinds of roles I play. I’ve really got three strikes against me. So, aren’t you amazed I’m still here?” Perspective: Tyson embodied what it takes to be a great actor: instinct and intention. | By Anne Hornaday

Herman Cain, chief executive and former GOP presidential hopeful

Little Richard, flamboyant star of early rock-and-roll

C.T. Vivian, aide to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Ellis Marsalis, pianist who launched a jazz dynasty in New Orleans

Hank Aaron during spring training on March 22, 1966.
Hank Aaron during spring training on March 22, 1966. (AP/AP)

“I believed, and still do, that there was a reason why I was chosen to break the record. I feel it’s my task to carry on where Jackie Robinson left off, and I only know one way to go about it.” The life and career of Hank Aaron, a baseball great who became a force for civil rights. | By Post Staff

Bruce Carver Boynton, civil rights lawyer whose prior actions helped spark the Freedom Rides

Theodore Gaffney, photographer who risked his life documenting the Freedom Riders

Gale Sayers, Hall of Fame running back for the Chicago Bears

Charley Pride, country music legend

Betty Wright, Grammy-winning soul singer and songwriter

Kobe Bryant at his last NBA game in Los Angeles in 2016.
Kobe Bryant at his last NBA game in Los Angeles in 2016. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

During his final season with the Lakers, Kobe Bryant wrote a poem called “Dear Basketball,” which amounted to a farewell to the game that made him a household name: “As a six-year-old boy / Deeply in love with you / I never saw the end of the tunnel / I only saw myself / Running out of one.” Remembering Kobe Bryant, a tireless competitor who became a global sports icon. | By Kent Babb

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

Harriet Tubman in the late 1800s. (Harvey B. Lindsley/Library of Congress/AP)
Harriet Tubman in the late 1800s. (Harvey B. Lindsley/Library of Congress/AP)

Renowned as a Black liberator, Harriet Tubman was also a brilliant spy. Tubman was the first woman to successfully plan and lead a military expedition during the Civil War. Now, Tubman has been inducted into the Military Intelligence Corps Hall of Fame. | By DeNeen L. Brown

Congresswomen Sheila Jackson Lee and Sylvia Garcia in Houston before George Floyd's funeral June 9. (Tamir Kalifa for The Washington Post)
Congresswomen Sheila Jackson Lee and Sylvia Garcia in Houston before George Floyd's funeral June 9. (Tamir Kalifa for The Washington Post)

Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) is making a renewed push for a national commission to examine the impact of slavery and reparations for descendants of millions of enslaved Africans. | By DeNeen L. Brown

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

The Angela Site in Williamsburg, Va., is named after one of the first Africans to arrive in Historic Jamestown. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
The Angela Site in Williamsburg, Va., is named after one of the first Africans to arrive in Historic Jamestown. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

“If they find the remains, we can know how old she was when she arrived. Did she have children? What did she die of? We will know more about this person, and we can reclaim her humanity.” History professor Cassandra Newby-Alexander on Angela, the first African woman documented in Virginia. | By DeNeen L. Brown

More than 150 years after slavery was abolished, congressional Democrats and Japanese American civil rights leaders are mobilizing around reparations for African Americans. Japanese Americans received reparations more than four decades after their captivity. African Americans have not. | By Tracy Jan

A political cartoon on Richard Mentor Johnson and his relationship with Julia Chinn. (Library of Congress)
A political cartoon on Richard Mentor Johnson and his relationship with Julia Chinn. (Library of Congress)

Richard Mentor Johnson, a who eventually became the nation’s ninth vice president in 1837, had an enslaved wife. Her name was Julia Chinn. | By Ronald G. Shafer

Movement for racial justice
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

Cori Bush in St. Louis on Sept. 23. (Michael B. Thomas for The Washington Post)
Cori Bush in St. Louis on Sept. 23. (Michael B. Thomas for The Washington Post)

Cori Bush got sick of asking public officials to make sweeping changes, particularly regarding criminal justice. So she ran for Congress, winning on her third try. She is the first Black Lives Matter organizer to serve in the House of Representatives. | By Jada Yuan

The brave, forgotten Kansas lunch counter sit-in that helped change America. | By Kate Torgovnick May

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

Museum director Lonnie G. Bunch III at the Natural History Museum in Washington on July 10, 2019. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)
Museum director Lonnie G. Bunch III at the Natural History Museum in Washington on July 10, 2019. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

“There is always that sense that, ‘Am I going to have the experience that I want, which is to be free of race and to enjoy this moment? Or will race tap me on the shoulder?’ And it usually does.” Lonnie G. Bunch III, director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, recalls his family’s stories of travel during the Green Book-era and reflects on travel today. | By Rhonda Colvin

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

Audrey Nell Edwards Hamilton with Martin Luther King III in 2011. (David Nolan)
Audrey Nell Edwards Hamilton with Martin Luther King III in 2011. (David Nolan)

“I always used to wonder why I used to go apply for a job and I never could get one. I was hurt. I was in disbelief. I couldn’t believe that these people in St. Augustine had kept this record hanging over my head for 40 years … for just asking for a hamburger. For sitting in. For food we never did get — in America. You know, God bless America.” Audrey Nell Edwards Hamilton, the last surviving member of the St. Augustine Four, is the Black girl who defied segregation, inspiring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jackie Robinson. | By Martin Dobrow

Demands for racial equity and justice have always been part of the American story. While the images here span the past two weeks, the words paired with them span the past 100 years. | By David Montgomery

Emmett Till’s brutal murder changed America. Now his home is a historic landmark. | By DeNeen L. Brown

Freedom Rider Dion Diamond holds a photograph of his mug shot from his 1961 arrest in Jackson, Miss. (Mark Gail/The Washington Post)
Freedom Rider Dion Diamond holds a photograph of his mug shot from his 1961 arrest in Jackson, Miss. (Mark Gail/The Washington Post)

Dion Diamond joined the Freedom Riders of the ’60s for what he thought would be a weekend. It turned out to be two years. | By Rachel Hatzipangos

Politics
Vice President Harris seen Jan. 20 in Washington. (Melina Mara/Pool/The Washington Post)
Vice President Harris seen Jan. 20 in Washington. (Melina Mara/Pool/The Washington Post)

Vice President Harris is the first woman and Black and South Asian person to hold the nation’s second-highest office. “On this night of celebration, a Black woman was not last. She was not the least of many. She was at the center of it all.” On how Harris made history with quiet, exquisite power. | By Robin Givhan

Read Harris’s acceptance speech.

The Rev. Raphael G. Warnock in Marietta, Ga., on Jan. 5. (Kevin D. Liles for The Washington Post)
The Rev. Raphael G. Warnock in Marietta, Ga., on Jan. 5. (Kevin D. Liles for The Washington Post)

“The 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator. The improbable journey that led me to this place in this historic moment in America could only happen here.” The Rev. Raphael G. Warnock, Georgia’s first Black senator, referencing his mother’s work in the 1950s picking cotton and tobacco in his victory speech. For many Black church congregants, Warnock’s projected victory was an answer to their prayers. | By Clyde McGrady

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

Stacey Abrams as a nominee for Georgia governor at Morehouse College in Atlanta on Nov. 2, 2018. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
Stacey Abrams as a nominee for Georgia governor at Morehouse College in Atlanta on Nov. 2, 2018. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

“Leadership is about answering that question: How can I help?” Stacey Abrams is the first Black woman in U.S. history to have won the gubernatorial nomination of either major party. She garnered more votes than any Democrat who has run statewide in Georgia. After losing the governor race by just over 50,000 votes, she focused her efforts on combating voter suppression in the 2020 presidential election. | By Post Staff

Perspective: Black women have shaped politics in Boston for centuries. A Black woman mayor will be the latest step in a long tradition. | By Kabria Baumgartner

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

Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), one of the first Black openly gay members of Congress, has become the role model he’d never had. | By Vanessa Williams

Ritchie Torres in 2018.
Ritchie Torres in 2018. (Richard Drew/AP)

Opinion: When Ritchie Torres got into the race for Congress, no one gave him a shot. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee didn’t support him. The local Democratic Party didn’t support him. AOC didn’t endorse him. And a notoriously homophobic, pro-Trump Democratic member of the City Council was the candidate favored to win the primary. But he didn’t. Ritchie Torres won. He’ll come to Washington not just as a free man politically, but also as the first openly gay Afro-Latino member of Congress. Listen to Torres on Jonathan Capehart’s podcast, “Cape Up.”

Business and the economy
Tulsa will commemorate the May 1921 race massacre's centennial this year. (Joshua Lott/The Washington Post)
Tulsa will commemorate the May 1921 race massacre's centennial this year. (Joshua Lott/The Washington Post)

White Tulsans killed scores of African Americans and destroyed nearly $2 million in property ($29 million in today’s dollars). No Black property owners were compensated. Now, as activists across the country mobilize around reparations to atone for slavery and its legacy of systemic discrimination against African Americans, some Black Tulsans are demanding restitution for the massacre, the theft of Black wealth and government barriers to rebuilding. | 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

Rosewood scholarship recipient Morgan Carter at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee on Dec. 13, 2019. (Zack Wittman for The Washington Post)
Rosewood scholarship recipient Morgan Carter at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee on Dec. 13, 2019. (Zack Wittman for The Washington Post)

“You always have to be the best and prove a point, simply because of who you are and what your family has gone through.” Morgan Carter, 21, the great-granddaughter of a survivor of the 1923 Rosewood massacre on how a scholarship helped — and didn’t help — descendants of Rosewood victims. | By Robert Samuels

Columnist Michelle Singletary recalls her experience as one of relatively few Black reporters at The Post in the early 1990s and examines the notion that affirmative action gives unqualified Black people an unfair advantage. Read her 10-part series about race and inequality, in which she tackles investing, wealth, reparations and more. | By Michelle Singletary

Military
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. salutes Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth O. Wright at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Aug. 6. (Eric Dietrich/U.S. Air Force)
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. salutes Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth O. Wright at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Aug. 6. (Eric Dietrich/U.S. Air Force)

“I’m thinking about wearing the same flight suit with the same wings on my chest as my peers and then being questioned by another military member, are you a pilot?” The new Air Force chief wasn’t sure how to address George Floyd’s killing. Then he talked to his son. | By Dan Lamothe

Retired four-star Army general Lloyd Austin, who made history by becoming the nation’s first African American defense secretary, on eradicating extremism from the military. | By Missy Ryan and Paul Sonne

Julius Becton Jr., a retired lieutenant general who earned a Silver Star and two Purple Hearts in Korea, on the tragic stories behind the executive order that eventually desegregated the U.S. armed forces. | By DeNeen L. Brown

Art and artifacts

“I get tons of girls who write to me or come up to me after I recite my poetry saying, ‘I have your same exact speech impediment and I’m writing poetry. Thank you for sharing your story.’ Moments like that are the most exciting because the momentum doesn’t end with me. It’s just being generated through me. And I get to watch this new generation take up the mantle and continue those conversations.” Amanda Gorman reflects on her experience as a Youth Poet Laureate. | By Madeline Weinfield

Perspective: Black Catholic women like Amanda Gorman are forgotten prophets of American democracy. Recalling their history is crucial to understanding the history of civil rights. | By Shannen Dee Williams

Opinion: On stages large and small, Black artists boldly offered up galvanizing visions that suggest not only can Americans of all races disentangle ourselves from a racist past, but also we can build a better future together. | By Alyssa Rosenberg

The 1619 Project has emerged as a watchword for our era — a hashtag, a talking point, a journalism case study, a scholarly mission. It is the subject of dueling academic screeds, Fox News segments, publishers’ bidding wars and an upcoming series of Oprah-produced films. How the 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones took over 2020. | By Sarah Ellison

Black TV writers have often felt like “diversity decoration.” Now they’re braced for another round of promises. | By Sonia Rao

Geoff Edgers and Tracee Ellis Ross on Edgers's Instagram Live show, “Stuck with Geoff,” on Aug. 18. (The Washington Post)
Geoff Edgers and Tracee Ellis Ross on Edgers's Instagram Live show, “Stuck with Geoff,” on Aug. 18. (The Washington Post)

“The career I have is about storytelling, but I’m more than an actor. I’m a producer and a founder of a hair company and a CEO. I’m an American citizen. I’m a Black woman.” Q&A with Tracee Ellis Ross. | By Geoff Edgers

The great-great granddaughter of Madam C.J. Walker, the country’s first Black female millionaire, grew up with the remnants of her wealth. | By DeNeen L. Brown

Warren “Wawa” Snipe’s ASL Super Bowl performance went viral. He wants to redefine what deaf artists can do. | By Andrea Salcedo

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

As a young man, Anthony Barboza wanted to work as a photographer — but no one would hire him. He found mentors in the Kamoinge Workshop in New York City. Barboza worked for Essence and Esquire, and befriended Miles Davis. See Barboza’s work. | By Bronwen Latimer

Music
Blues singer Shemekia Copeland for The Washington Post Magazine. (Ian Maddox for The Washington Post)
Blues singer Shemekia Copeland for The Washington Post Magazine. (Ian Maddox for The Washington Post)

“Country music ain’t nothin’ but the blues with a twang.” Widely hailed as the greatest blues singer of her generation and the reigning Queen of the Blues, Shemekia Copeland, 41, has grown impatient with business as usual in the industry. Now she wants to fuse politics with the blues. | By Carlo Rotella

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

Six songs tell you as much about Aretha Franklin as any memoir ever could. The Queen of Soul was not much for talking about her life, so with the help of Oprah Winfrey, Paul Simon, Questlove and others, we peel back the layers of emotion, technique and lived experience she packed into these key performances. | By Geoff Edgers

Sports
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

Perspective: Simone Manuel didn’t just win any medal. She didn’t sneak in at the end and get a bronze. No, she recovered from a poor start in the 100-meter freestyle, blazed at the turn and won gold. She finished in a dead heat with Canada’s Penny Oleksiak to share first place in an Olympic record time of 52.70 seconds. She realizes how powerful a symbol she now is. | By Jerry Brewer

San Francisco 49ers Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sept. 12, 2016. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)
San Francisco 49ers Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sept. 12, 2016. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Perspective: Two knees. One protesting in the grass, one pressing on the back of a man’s neck. Choose. You have to choose which knee you will defend. There are no half choices; there is no room for indifference. There is only the knee of protest or the knee on the neck. This is why Colin Kaepernick took a knee. | By Sally Jenkins

Perspective: Protesters often win history’s long game. Ask Tommie Smith and John Carlos. | By Jerry Brewer

A sharecropper’s daughter, Wyomia Tyus grew up on a dairy farm in rural Georgia during the Jim Crow era. She overcame family tragedy as a teenager and went on to win four Olympic medals, including the two 100-meter golds. She also set or equaled the 100-meter world record four times. | By Stephen Wilson

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

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

Nigel Greaves, of Springfield, Mass., with daughter Lela Joy on June 15. (Philip Keith for The Washington Post)
Nigel Greaves, of Springfield, Mass., with daughter Lela Joy on June 15. (Philip Keith for The Washington Post)

“Our kids are not natural-born activists. They don’t gravitate toward a protest march. But I think, for most people, if you’re troubled by the state of the world, doing something to express your agitation, your concern, your aspiration, is really helpful and healthy. We would love our girls to experience that.” Andrew Grant-Thomas, co-founder of EmbraceRace, a family-focused racial justice nonprofit. What five Black fathers are saying to their children about this historic moment. | By Caitlin Gibson

Food
Chef and editor Klancy Miller in Brooklyn on Jan. 20. (Jesse Dittmar for The Washington Post.)
Chef and editor Klancy Miller in Brooklyn on Jan. 20. (Jesse Dittmar for The Washington Post.)

When Klancy Miller launched her fundraising campaign for For the Culture in December 2019, the food media world took notice. With the mission of “A magazine celebrating Black women and femmes in food and wine,” it is believed to be the first of its kind dedicated to the task. Now, more than a year later, the inaugural issue has been printed and shipped to supporters — and is available for purchase online. “I’m feeling very excited. And, frankly, relieved,” Miller says. “And a little bit protective.” For the Culture magazine celebrates Black women in food. Finally. | By Aaron Hutcherson

Perspective: My father taught me about Black food and identity. Now that he’s gone, cookbooks fill the gap. | By Anela Malik

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

Perspective: ‘Top Chef’ is getting more Black judges — finally. Other cooking shows need to follow suit. | By Johnna FrenchIris Haq Lukolyo, 10, penned an essay about the experience that went viral