I don’t know really how to categorize this. It’s fascinating. I’ll be thinking about it for a while. i-D: This video game celebrates the stories of Black trans people. “London-based artist Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley’s latest project, WE ARE HERE BECAUSE OF THOSE THAT ARE NOT, is an interactive digital archive video game, which aims to preserve the stories of Black trans people in a world determined to erase them. At its simplest, the game uses keyboard prompts to allow players to be diverted down different pathways, depending on their expressed gender identity. But with its trippy visuals, unsettling music and aesthetic elements — which recall traditional kente patterns — Danielle conjures up something much more than that.”
Vogue: Willi Smith Brought Fashion to the Streets—Now the Cooper Hewitt Is Bringing the American Sportswear Pioneer Home to You. “The Cooper Hewitt is the first institution to dedicate an exhibition to Smith, an African-American designer of sportswear basics. The ‘street couture’ in the show’s title comes from that of the designer’s 1983 collection, which was a collaborative multimedia experience. Smith’s desire to bring art into the lives of many resulted in groundbreaking partnerships with architects, dancers, graphic designers, filmmakers, and visual artists. He was absolutely ahead of his time.”
New York Times: Six Decades After the Banana Boat, Harry Belafonte’s Archive Sails Home. “The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a division of the New York Public Library, has acquired Mr. Belafonte’s personal archive — a vast maze of photographs, recordings, films, letters, artwork, clipping albums and other materials. It illuminates not just his career as an musician and actor, but as an activist and connector who seemed to know everyone, from Paul Robeson and Marlon Brando to Martin Luther King Jr., the Kennedys and Nelson Mandela.”
Getty Blog: Consortium Forms Advisory Council, Announces Plans to Preserve Historic Ebony and Jet Photographic Archive. “The nonprofit consortium that acquired the archive of Johnson Publishing Company, publisher of Ebony, Jet and other iconic publications, today announced an Advisory Council that will inform the preservation and future use of the historic photographic collection to ensure the archive is made available for broad public use. The archive includes 3.35 million negatives and slides, 983,000 photographs, 166,000 contact sheets, and 9,000 audio and visual recordings, comprising the most significant collection illustrating African American life in the 20th century.”
NARA: Confederate Slave Payrolls Shed Light on Lives of 19th Century African American Families. “They are single lines, often with no last name, on paper yellowed but legible after 155 years, among thousands scrawled in loping letters that make up nearly 6,000 Confederate Slave Payroll records, a trove of Civil War documents digitized for the first time by National Archives staff in a multiyear project that concluded in January. For years, the Confederate Army required owners to loan their slaves to the military. From Virginia to Florida, the enslaved conscripts were forced to dig trenches and work at ordnance factories and arsenals, mine potassium nitrate to create gunpowder, or shore up forts.”
Slate: The Smithsonian Archive Brings the Breadth of Black Womanhood Into View. “The archives present a kaleidoscope of the reality of Black womanhood: These women were musicians like jazz vocalist Maxine Sullivan; playwrights like Elizabeth Shearer White, known for her production of Othello featuring an all-Black cast; milliners like Mae Reeves; and athletes like golfer Ethel Funches. They registered voters, wrote letters to their loved ones and studied a variety of skills at the Manual Training and Industrial School for Colored Youth in Bordentown, New Jersey. Some joined Masonic societies, worked fields, sold pralines, and hit jigs at the Cotton Club.”
Christian Science Monitor: New website shines light on hidden figures in black history. “The website Black Quotidian features profiles of hundreds of lesser known African American figures who made their marks in U.S. society. The creator, a Dartmouth College professor, wanted to provide a fresh look at the lives of ordinary black Americans.” I didn’t see the URL of the site anywhere in the story! It’s http://blackquotidian.org/ .