Emancipation Day celebration June 19, 1900 Juneteenth Emancipation Day Celebration, June 19, 1900, Texas (Public Domain)
The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity (2021 National Theme)
Explore and learn as you engage in images and captions from past to present day stories of The Black Family. Each week day a new image will be posted for your review, and learning experience. See a few familiar images and some aspects of the black family’s history and contribution to American culture.
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Emancipation Day celebration June 19, 1900
Emancipation Day is when the government declared that it would be against the law to make Black people and Black Families, including their descendants (the children, grandchildren and great-grand children, etc.) taken from Africa, to continue as enslaved people. In Ontario and many of the islands in the Caribbean, the holiday marks the end of slavery for people who were taken from Africa to places that were part of the British Empire. In the United States, the celebration marks the end of slavery and the end of the Civil War in 1862. This period launched the continued struggle for the equity of Black people in America and sparked the complex evolution and progression of the Black family (CBC, 2021).
Black History Month Photos
2011 Official White House Photo by Pete Souza (Public Domain)
President Barack Obama Family Portrait
Michelle, Malia, Barack, and Sasha Obama pose for White House family portrait in 2011. They are the first of African descent to serve as the first family from 2009 – 2017. The Obamas made their entrance to the national spotlight on the campaign trail in 2007 and have captivated their supporters as first family ever since, in moments big and small. When President Barack Obama took office in 2009, Malia and Sasha were just ten and seven years old, respectively; with Sasha being the youngest child to live in the White House since JFK, Jr. The president and First Lady Michelle Obama faced the balancing act of raising their two daughters with a normal childhood in an extraordinary setting. Throughout eight years in the White House and around the world, the Obama’s have been documented in thousands upon thousands of photographs, posed and candid, private and public (Matiash, 2016).
Russell Lee, Edwin Rosskam, & the Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection (Library of Congress)
Easter Sunday in Black Chicago, 1941
The five boys are representative of Chicago's diverse Black community, in which poverty and prosperity existed side-by-side. While most Black Chicago families were poor (many were migrants from the South, fleeing racism and searching for economic opportunity), the city was also home to a self-confident black middle class.
Lewis III & Garcia, 2020 (iStock photo by Daniel Bendjy)
The Black Military Family: Inspiring Through Military Legacy
As one of the earliest government institutions to desegregate, the US Armed Forces have remained a career choice for some Black Americans. Statistically, however there is less evidence of Black Americans choosing military careers as a family or legacy tradition than there is for non-Black Americans doing so. Understanding historical and current reasons for these patterns might help address the choice. The benefits of military service for Black families, as well as the challenges and hardships are worthy of study (Lewis III & Garcia, 2020).
Clara "Mother" Hale 1906-1992 founder of Hale House Center, Inc. (Public Domain)
Clara Hale American Humanitarian
Clara Hale (1905-1992) spent 52 years bringing hope and assistance to the less fortunate. Hale was much more than a mother, a wife and businesswoman. She was a great humanitarian, a champion of the principles of self-determination and a caregiver of all caregivers. Through her devotion to her own three children she was inspired to reach out to others in her community who were in need of nurturing. She’s the founder of Hale House, one of the first facilities for addicted children. She eventually helped over 2,000 drug addicted babies and young children who were born addicted to drugs, children born with HIV, and children whose parents had died of AIDS. It was simple, she said; “hold them, rock them, love them and tell them how great they are” (Blackdoctor.org).
Black Dads Matter (iStock photo by Paul Kline)
Black Dads Matter
Arguably the most vital figure of the Black family is the Black father. While studies have identified social and structural barriers impacting the Black father in American society, research has shown that Black fathers are generally involved and engaged in the lives of their children. Research also has suggested that there are important roles and contributions of Black fathers, including influences on children's school adjustment, social competence and psychological well-being (Downer and Mendez, 2005; McHale et al., 2006). The challenge with many Back fathers is the stereotypical characterization that Black fathers are missing in the homes and irresponsible. Coupled with the fact that proportionally, Black men, many of whom are fathers and husbands have been historically treated unjustly within America’s culture. In spite of these dynamics, research is showing that more Black fathers perceives themselves as men of guidance, full of emotion, and able to overcome challenges; able to do whatever is necessary to educate their children despite media influences and social constraints Since few studies address African American men as good fathers, research that does describe Black males as good fathers is significant (Ransaw, 2014).
BlackPast, B. (2007, January 21) (1967) Loving v. Virginia. Retrieved from https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/loving-v-virginia-1967/(Fair Use Image)
Richard and Mildred Loving and Their Children, Peggy, Donald, and Sidney, 1967
Loving v. Virginia was a Supreme Court case that struck down state laws banning interracial marriage in the United States. The plaintiffs in the case were Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and black woman whose marriage was deemed illegal according to Virginia state law. With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Lovings appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously that so-called “anti-miscegenation” statutes were unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. The decision is often cited as a watershed moment in the dismantling of “Jim Crow” race laws (History.com Editors, 2019).
Lori Lightfoot Is Sworn In As Chicago's First Female African American Mayor By Scott Olson (Getty Images)
Lori Lightfoot and Her Family, Chicago's First Black Female, and Openly Gay Mayor
Sitting with her wife Amy Eshleman and daughter Vivian, Lori Lightfoot (R) listens to speakers during her inauguration ceremony at the Wintrust Arena on May 20, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Lightfoot become the first black female and openly gay chief executive in the city’s history. Assimilating the LGBTQ + culture within the Black community has not been easy, historically. Akerlund & Cheung (2000) noted that queer people of color face unique and complex challenges --- integrating two marginalized identities in a society that does not fully accept either one.
Enslaved Black Families and the History of New Year's Day(iStock illustration by duncan1890)
Enslaved Black Families and the History of New Year's Day
Prior to the Civil War in 1861 New Year’s Day in the African-American community used to be widely known as “Hiring Day” — or “Heartbreak Day,” as the African-American abolitionist journalist William Cooper Nell described it — because enslaved people spent New Year’s Eve waiting, wondering if their owners were going to rent them out to someone else, thus potentially splitting up their families. After the Emancipation Proclamation which eventually freed enslaved people, New Year’s Day was more recognized by Black families as a holiday. As practiced back in 1862, many black families attended church on New Year’s eve, in what is called “watch” service. More than 150 years later these services are still attended where many black families pray for racial equity (Waxman, 2019).
“A Skinny Black Girl Descended From Slaves and Raised by a Single Mother” (Amanda Gorman photo by Getty Images Pool)
Amanda Gorman at President Joe Biden's Inauguration Ceremony
Amanda S. C. Gorman is a 22 year old American poet and activist from Los Angeles. Her work focuses on issues of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, as well as the African diaspora. Gorman was the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate. She published the poetry book The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough in 2015. In 2021, she delivered her poem "The Hill We Climb" during the 59th inaugural ceremony on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol (pictured), becoming the youngest person to date in US history to deliver such a presentation. The title of the caption above is taken from her poem where she references the lineage and heritage of her family.
Civil Rights Movement Co-Founder Dr. Ralph David Abernathy and his wife Mrs. Juanita Abernathy follow with Dr. and Mrs. Martin Luther King as the Abernathy children march on the front line, leading the SELMA TO MONTGOMERY MARCH in 1965 (Public Domain)
The Black Family and Civil Rights
The evolution and progression of a complex culture in American history. Pictured above, the Civil Rights Movement Co-Founder Dr. Ralph David Abernathy and his wife Mrs. Juanita Abernathy follow with Dr. and Mrs. Martin Luther King as the Abernathy children march on the front line, leading the SELMA TO MONTGOMERY MARCH in 1965. The Children are Donzaleigh Abernathy in striped sweater, Ralph David Abernathy, 3rd and Juandalynn R. Abernathy in glasses.
Worshippers at holy angel catholic church on chicago's south side. It is the city's largest black catholic church. The pastor is father George H. Clements, a leader in the black community. (Public Domain)
The Black Family and the Church
Pictured above a church service at Holy Angel Catholic Church on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, 1973. Many historians contest that the church has been at the foundation of social, political, economic, spiritual and artistic expression for the black family. The status and role of the black church in the post-civil rights era has been the subject of lively debate among Black scholars. Some argue that "the black church" is "dead," that it has lost its prophetic and progressive voice and its capacity to mobilize for reform on the national stage. Others argue the church is very much alive, and point to the results of the 2008 Pew Religious Landscape Survey that shows that the Black Family are more likely than any other ethnic or racial group to report a formal religious affiliation. Even those who count themselves "unaffiliated" describe themselves as "religiously unaffiliated." (American Experience, 1998)
A Black Family That TV Hadn’t Seen BeforeThe Cosby Show By NBC (Getty Images)
A Black Family That TV Hadn’t Seen Before
The Cosby Show aired for eight seasons on NBC between September 20, 1984, until April 30, 1992. The show focused on an upper middle-class Black family living in Brooklyn, New York. The show spent five consecutive seasons as the number-one rated show on American television. The Cosby Show and All in the Family are the only sitcoms in the history of the Nielsen ratings to be the number-one show for five seasons. Some commentators asserted that one of the show's greatest consequences was its help in improving race relations by projecting universal values that diverse America could identify with. Others suggested that the show's popularity set back race relations because its view of Black assimilation failed to take into account the context of the world outside of the four walls of the Huxtable household. For various reasons the Huxtable family resonated with millions and had at its core the fundamental humanity and individuality of Blacks, and the illegitimacy of any attempt to conceive of black people otherwise – either as a group or as a monolithic race.
The History of the Black Single MotherPublicity photo of Diahann Carroll and Marc Coppage from Julia television program. (Public Domain)
The History of the Black Single Mother
In this era of multiculturalism, America’s diverse family forms are openly acknowledged, but the tendency still exists to revert to the ideal mother and father unit as the universal model of comparison in determining the extent of familial stability and productivity. Certainly there are many Black families with kinship based primarily on spousal relationships, but a single definition of “family” is erroneous and insensitive to the realities of scores of successful single mothers and their families (Dickerson, 1995). The picture above is from a 1968 show entitled Julia (Diahann Carroll). It is notable for being the first weekly series to represent a Black single mother in a non-stereotypical role. While being criticized by some for not having a Black father lead, the show demonstrated the power, influence and impact of a Black Single mom successfully raising her son, Corey (Marc Copage).
The “First Family of Jazz,” From New OrleansMarsalis Family by Time & Life Pictures (Getty Images)
The “First Family of Jazz,” From New Orleans
(L-R, 1990) The Marsalis family: Jason, Branford, Wynton and Ellis is an American family, considered by many as the “first family of jazz.” With (late) father Ellis as mentor, older brothers Branford and Wynton as leaders of a new generation, and younger siblings Delfeayo and Jason as rising stars, the Marsalis clan has been acclaimed through the individual recordings, performances, and compositions. The Marsalis family, together and individually, have made significant professional contributions to the preservation of jazz, the furthering of the art form, and the education of students of the music, leaving an important and distinctive mark on the world of jazz and this nation's culture.
James Weldon Johnson. The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored ManJames Weldon Johnson, half-length portrait at desk with telephone (Public Domain)
James Weldon Johnson. The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man
Racial Passing is a term used primarily in the United States to describe a Black person or one of multiracial ancestry who assimilated into the white majority to escape the legal and social conventions of racial segregation and discrimination. James Weldon (pictured) American writer and civil rights activist authored the book The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man as a fictional account of a young biracial man living through a variety of experiences, including witnessing a lynching, that convince him to "pass" as white to secure his safety and advancement, but he feels as if he has given up his dream of "glorifying" the black race by composing ragtime music. Passing as white in the 21st-century is more controversial: it is often seen as a rejection of blackness, the black family and the black culture.
The Challenges of Colorism in the Black FamilyiStock photo by Ryan J. Lane
The Challenges of Colorism in the Black Family
Often-times, families function as an agent of socialization that counters racism. At the same time, however, Black families can perpetuate skin tone consciousness and bias, or colorism. Although there is an extensive body of revisionist literature on Black families and a growing body of scholarship on the contemporary nature of colorism, there is a dearth of literature addressing the role of Black families in relation to colorism. Some research has endeavored to fill the gap by exploring the influence of Black families in the development and maintenance of a colorist ideology and consciousness in some Black families (Wilder & Cain, 2010).
A Black Family’s Perseverance from 1920 to 2020Scott and Violet Arthur arrive with their family at Chicago's Polk Street Depot on Aug. 30, 1920, two months after their two sons were lynched in Paris, Texas. The picture has become an iconic symbol of the Great Migration. (Chicago History Museum, Public Domain)
A Black Family’s Perseverance from 1920 to 2020
Scott and Violet Arthur arrive with their family at Chicago's Polk Street Depot on Aug. 30, 1920, two months after their two sons were lynched in Paris, Texas. The picture has become an iconic symbol of the Great Migration. The finely dressed family, with their tattered suitcases, personified the mass movement of African Americans to the North and West in the 1900s to escape the perils of the South. In Paris, the Arthur brothers’ legacy still looms large. The town of Paris, like many in America, has never come to terms with its racist past. It was easier to bury this defining moment in history than reconcile it by bringing it into the open. Recently in 2020, a small group of people with ties to Paris decided it was time to acknowledge the travesty, apologize to the Arthur family and begin moving the town forward (Glanton, 2020).
Professional Tennis Players and Sisters, Serena and Venus WilliamsSerena and Venus Williams during their first round of doubles in the 2013 US Open. (Creative Commons)
Professional Tennis Players and Sisters, Serena and Venus Williams
Considered one of the most dominant pair of siblings in all of professional sports, Serena (L) and Venus Williams have a combined total of 30 Grand Slam singles titles to their name, Serena winning 23 of those. Serena, the younger one, who “followed” elder sis Venus into the tennis court when they first started holding the racquet, is now arguably the greatest female tennis player ever. Reared by their mother, Oracene Price and father, Richard Williams (who trained and managed them), both of them have one singles Gold each at the Olympics. They have been equally devastating at doubles, winning 14 Grand Slams, and Gold at the Olympics on 3 occasions. And amidst all of this, the sisters have faced each other 30 times on the singles tour, including 16 times in Grand Slams — creating one of the most fascinating stories of sibling rivalry (and dominance) the world of sport has seen (Savant, 2019).
John H. Johnson with Daughter Linda Johnson-Rice November 15, 1990 John H. Johnson with daughter, Linda Rice by Jonathan Kirn (Getty Images)
John H. Johnson with Daughter Linda Johnson-Rice November 15, 1990
John Harold Johnson (January 19, 1918 – August 8, 2005) was an American businessman and publisher. Johnson was the founder of the Johnson Publishing Company headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, with branch offices in Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington D.C. Johnson's Ebony and Jet magazines are among the most influential African-American businesses in media. Johnson's family held roles within the company. His wife, Eunice W. Johnson, was the founder, secretary, treasurer, and director of the Ebony Fashion Fair. His son, John H. Johnson Jr., served as a staff photographer for both Ebony and Jet magazines from 1975 until his death in December 1981. Johnson's daughter Linda Johnson-Rice served as fashion coordinator of the Ebony Fashion Fair before becoming the company's CEO in 2003.
The Black Family’s Ongoing Struggle for Systemic Equity in America March On Washington To Protest Police Brutality by Pool (Getty Images)
The Black Family’s Ongoing Struggle for Systemic Equity in America
Jacob Blake Sr. (pictured), father of Jacob Blake, speaks during the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. It marked the 57th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech at the same location. On August 23, 2020, Jacob S. Blake, a 29-year-old black man, was shot and seriously injured by police officer Rusten Sheskey in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Sheskey shot at Blake's back seven times when Blake opened the driver's door to an SUV and leaned in. Three of Blake's sons were in the backseat at the time. Earlier during the encounter, Blake had been tasered and had scuffled with the officers.
The Carters - A Contemporary Black Power Couple Jay-Z and Beyonce attend The 40/40 Club 10 Year Anniversary Party at 40 / 40 Club on June 17, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Creative Commons)
The Carters - A Contemporary Black Power Couple
From R&B, Hip-Hop, and Rap to business, social activism, and community service Jay-Z and Beyoncé Carter have worked for a combined net worth of nearly $1.4 billion from albums, movies, fashion, record studios, and other business endeavors, Beyoncé and Jay Z are considered the most powerful couple in entertainment, and together they ranked 50th on Business Insider's recent list of the 50 most powerful people in the world. In 2020, Jay-Z co-wrote "Savage (Remix)" by Beyoncé and Megan Thee Stallion and Beyoncé's solo single, "Black Parade". The former had reached the top of the charts in the United States, with all proceeds benefiting Bread of Life Houston's COVID-19 relief efforts, which includes providing over 14 tons of food and supplies to 500 families and 100 senior citizens in Houston on a weekly basis.
The Impact of Segregated Housing on Black Family Wealth Ida B. Wells Homes highrise (Creative Commons)
The Impact of Segregated Housing on Black Family Wealth
Pictured above, the Ida B. Wells Homes constructed in 1939 - 1941, a Chicago Housing Authority public housing project located in the heart of the Bronzeville neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. During the Great Migration from about 1916 to 1970, millions of African Americans left the Jim Crow south for northern cities of the US, to improve their economic standing (Boustan, 2016). As a result, segregation and ghetto expansion stimulated by public housing projects left Black Americans living in declining neighborhoods and doubly poorer. Much of the gain in occupational standing and earnings for black families who moved north were cancelled out by losses associated with segregated housing markets. This likely fueled the link between racial transition and lending risk that was noted by both banks and government agencies in the early 20th century. While economic and fair housing progress has been made for many Black families in recent decades, there remains clear evidence of the negative impacts of segregation in many American cities to this day, 2021 (Akbar, Shertzer, & Walsh, 2019).