Black History in the Arts


Slave songs

1619 - 1863

Slaves sang work songs to make hard labor easier. The songs often were full of hope for freedom.

African rhythms

1619 - 1740

Slave laws in the US made it illegal for slaves to play drums, because they could use them to communicate in ways their masters could not understand.


1895 - 1957

Jazz includes a range of musical styles and is uniquely African American in origin

Birth of the Blues

1912 - 1956

The Blues evolved from slave songs and spirituals and often talk about hard times and personal troubles.


1932 - 1960

Sacred religious music of African American Christians, Gospel has its roots in spirituals sung by slaves.

R&B and Soul

1953 - 1968

R&B evolved from jazz, blues, and gospel. In the 1960s it became known as Soul.

Rock and Roll

1955 - 1969

Rock and Roll started with Chuck Berry and Little Richard. It quickly became popular with young Americans of all races.

Rap and Hip Hop

1970 - 1994

The rhythm of Rap brings us back to the African beat and Hip Hop creates new sounds while incorporating African musical forms.

Visual Arts

Horace Pippin

1888 - 1946

Self taught painter

Aaron Douglas

1899 - 1979

Painter and graphic artist, depicted the struggles of African American life in the1920s and 30s

Faith Ringgold

1930 - 02/28/2013

Author, painter, civil and women's rights activist - still living


James Baldwin

1924 - 1987

Novelist and Playwright, leading voice in the Civil Rights movement

Maya Angelou

1928 - 02/28/2013

Author and poet - still living


Katherine Dunham

1909 - 2006

Ballet dancer who formed an all Black ballet companyin 1940

Alvin Ailey

1931 - 1989

Choreographer, multi-racial modern dance ensemble