American Heritage

Articles from Vol. 46, No. 1, February-March

All Blood Runs Red
America's first black aviator, Eugene Jacques Bullard, flew not for his own country but for France, for which he was wounded and almost died. Gene Bullard wore fifteen French medals and decorations, and although he was buried in the United States, it...
Conversations with God
Prayer is an attempt to count the stars of our souls. Under its sacred canopy, an oratory of hope echoes the vast, but immediate, distances between who we are and who we want to be. This peculiar trek sentences its devotees to an arduous discipline....
Down-Home and Uptown: Archibald Motley, Jr. and the Evolution of African-American Art
The first time I ever attended a house party featuring live music was in 1954 at the home of a high school acquaintance who lived near Greensboro, in south-central Alabama. The weather was warm, and the throng of partygoers had extended their dancing...
Herter Brothers
AMERICA. THE INDUSTRIAL AGE. MACHINES, steam, and iron. The picture of progress. But also a nation in mourning. Mourning its Civil War dead, mourning its loss of innocence, and deeply ambivalent about the forces of change. Onto this stage stepped two...
How Did Lincoln Die?
THREAT OF ASSASSINATION MAY SEEM the greatest risk a President of the United States must take upon entering office, but history suggests that until recently a Chief Executive's life was threatened more by his postassault medical treatment than by his...
Little Richard's Big Noise
Bumps Blackwell was sweating it. A hard morning's work in the New Orleans recording studio had yielded nothing, not a thing. Not one of the songs he'd gotten from this kid was anywhere near hit quality. Bumps couldn't figure it: The boy's six-inch stack...
Meeting Mr. X
In October of 1964, I lived in Beirut, Lebanon. That was when Beirut was glorious, when its tiered apartment houses and office buildings stood unharmed beyond the white sands of the beaches; when the sky, and the mountains in the distance, and the Mediterranean...
Mystery Cruise
In the last year or so the Mayas --both present-day population and ancient civilization--have gained a new kind of attention in the popular imagination and in the press. "Secrets of the Maya," a Time magazine cover story of august 9, 1993, sought lessons...
Offerings
THE Smithsonian Institution has taken a good deal of heat lately because of some sophomoric pieties formulated by the staff responsible for mounting an exhibit on the Enola Gay and the bomb it dropped on Hiroshima fifty years ago next summer. But the...
Offerings at the Wall
"THE FACES OF THE AMERican Dead in Vietnam" was Life magazine's cover story on June 27, 1969. Photographs and brief biographies of the 242 Americans killed in action during one week, from May 28 to June 3, marched on for pages. When the issue appeared,...
Our Legacy Continues
Some years ago when I was a student at the University of Cincinnati, a classmate and friend, Howard Drake, announced that he had decided to major in African-American studies. I myself had decided on graphic communications, primarily because I had taken...
Passing
IN 1916, WHEN MARGARET MORRIS WAS A little girl living in Washington, D.C., she lost her family and they lost her. First her mother died at the age of forty-one. Then her father, uncles, aunts, sister, brothers, cousins, and even grandmother vanished....
Somebody Somewhere Wants Your Photograph
BEYOND THE TOWERING FIGURES OF twentieth-century photography--names like Ansel Adams, Gordon Parks, and Dorothea Lange--stand legions of lesser-known photographers, highly skilled journeymen and craftsmen who often stayed close to home. One such was...
The Conway Cabal
The English writer G.K. Chesterton once observed that journalism largely consists of saying "Lord Jones is dead" to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive. So perhaps does telling the story of the Conway Cabal, a military-political convulsion of...
The Great Upheaval
In the immediate aftermath of last November's election, I was overtaken by a kind of awe as I contemplated this month's column. "Clearly," said an inner voice, "this is a historic event. Say something of historical consequence! Illuminate the moment;...
The Ordeal of Engine Charlie
If you want to know how much the world can change--and stay the same--in half a lifetime, consider the United States Defense Department, the General Motors Corporation, and the man who, forty years ago, epitomized them both, Charles E. Wilson. In 1955...
The Promise
It is now more than half a century since a group of us Morehouse College students traveled to Hartford, Connecticut, from Atlanta, Georgia, in 1942 to spend the summer working on the Cullman Brothers Tobacco Farms. I was the student leader for this chartered...
Tornado
I was a pupil in Miss Henley's sixth-grade class in the Gorham Elementary School when history touched me. Gorham is and was a village located on the Missouri Pacific Railroad about fifty miles northwest of Cairo, Illinois. A substantial share of its...
Touring the Black Past
The first time I visited New Orleans, in the spring of 1965, I insisted on taking my traveling companion to the suburb of Chalmette, the site of the great concluding battle of the War of 1812. On the drive out we loudly caroled the words to "The Battle...
What History?
When the black Columbia University graduate student Lorenzo J. Greene met Carter Godwin Woodson in 1925, he pitied him. Here was a fifty-year-old scholar who ought to be teaching at some great university, Greene thought. Yet what was Woodson's sole interest...

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