Black History Month: Google Cultural Institute’s Ode to Black History

Google Cultural Institute creates an online museum of black history, arts, and culture

Google Cultural Institute
A 1920s image from the Kevin Hall collection at The Museum of Public Art; Image: Google Cultural Institute

You may have recently seen on Google’s home page a link to “Explore African American culture with Google.” The link directs you to a magnificent online gallery of black history, arts, and culture from 50 cultural institutions, 80 curated exhibits, and includes more than 500 items.

[Related: Black History Month: Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer Prize-winning Author]

Content including images, videos, and articles from national collections from institutions such as Schomburg Center, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture. Users can search through the site by event, person’s name, media type and more.

The “event” filter, for example, displays powerful content on incidents such as King’s assassination, World War II as it relates to African American history, the Birmingham bombing, and the civil rights movement.

The online site also includes historical records from figures of note such as Frederick Douglass and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. You can read the original letters Douglass wrote to his former master Hugh Auld. Or, read the personal letter Dr. King wrote his wife, Coretta Scott at the beginning of his four-month prison sentence for non-violent protests, then view photos of his historic handshake at the White House with President Lyndon B. Johnson.

In a blog post, Valeisha Butterfield Jones, head of black community engagement, Google, writes:

Collecting these works into one place provides unprecedented access to a vital part of history that is too often forgotten. By comparing works of art and texts of speeches to find commonalities and distinctions, we can also build on the past to inspire ourselves and others. And while today is the first day of Black History Month, the work of remembering our history is necessary year round—which is why these records will be there on the Cultural Institute for generations to come.