About The African American Art History

Elvis Elvis

The history of African Americans is deeply woven into the history of the United States. Our contributions to American culture, in the fields of art, dance, literature and music, have had a global impact. It is important that we don’t forget. Equally important are the traditions of our African heritage. We hold our heads high. We show respect for our heritage. We take pride in our accomplishments.

General History
The history of the living conditions, situations and circumstances in which African Americans have lived through the centuries are described in articles in this section. There are also articles on our history and traditions.
The Africans transported to the colonies as indentured servants, and later as slaves, were not allowed to express themselves creatively. In the early eighteenth century, the talents of portrait painters, such as Joshua Johnston, were recognized. African Americans through the centuries have created art in many forms and they are now receiving the recognition they deserve. We celebrate the contributions to our continuing legacy.
Dance is a tradition of our African heritage. Slaves danced on the plantations for themselves and for their masters. There were wedding dances, harvest dances and funeral dances. Traditional African dances were adapted and new dances developed. This creative spirit is alive and well in our legacy.
 About The African American Art History
Reading and writing are symbols of power. During slavery it was forbidden to teach slaves to read and write. Since one excuse for enslaving Africans was to “Christianize” them, in early years some owners taught slaves to read the Bible. When literature advocating the violent overthrow of slavery started appearing, slave codes were rewritten to strictly enforce the laws against teaching slaves to read and write. Again, when given the opportunity, writers such as Phillis Wheatley proved to be creative and talented. Slave narratives written by Frederick Douglass and others made everyone, in this country and abroad, aware of the real conditions of slavery. Our legacy of literature includes these early writers, Pulitzer Prize winners and Nobel Prize winners.
Work songs, spirituals, gospel, ragtime, jazz, boogie woogie, rhythm and blues, soul, rap – African Americans have developed and created musical genres that are copied around the world. Our music is one of America’s greatest cultural gifts to the world.