African American Culture
An Encyclopedia of People, Traditions, and Customs
by Omari L. Dyson, Judson L. Jeffries, and Kevin L. Brooks, Editors
July 2020, 1122pp, 7x10
3 volumes, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-6243-4
$335, £258, 292€, A459
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-6244-1
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

African American culture is ambitious, rich, complex, and steeped in meaning; it represents positive, creative expression born of persecution.

Covering everything from sports to art, religion, music, and entrepreneurship, this book documents the vast array of African American cultural expressions and discusses their impact on the culture of the United States.

According to the latest census data, less than 13 percent of the U.S. population identifies as African American; African Americans are still very much a minority group. Yet African American cultural expression and strong influences from African American culture are common across mainstream American culture—in music, the arts, and entertainment; in education and religion; in sports; and in politics and business. African American Culture: An Encyclopedia of People, Traditions, and Customs covers virtually every aspect of African American cultural expression, addressing subject matter that ranges from how African culture was preserved during slavery hundreds of years ago to the richness and complexity of African American culture in the post-Obama era.

The most comprehensive reference work on African American culture to date, the multivolume set covers such topics as black contributions to literature and the arts, music and entertainment, religion, and professional sports. It also provides coverage of less-commonly addressed subjects, such as African American fashion practices and beauty culture, the development of jazz music across different eras, and African American business.


  • Identifies influential aspects of African American culture through entries on such topics as African Americans in sports, in such musical genres as blues, gospel, hip hop, and jazz; and in such religions as Christianity, Islam, and Yoruba
  • Makes clear the numerous ways African Americans have produced, maintained, and evolved their culture in the United States
  • Enables readers to truly comprehend what "diversity" is by gaining substantive knowledge of how a particular group of persecuted people has learned to thrive artistically and culturally in the United States
Omari L. Dyson is academic professional assistant professor in the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Dr. Dyson has authored and co-authored various works that attend to the interrelationship among power, culture, and social identity(-ies). As an interdisciplinarian, he pays close attention to how love, power, humanism, reflection, caring, mindfulness, and voice impact social transformation. As a community servant, personal trainer, and group exercise instructor, Dr. Dyson has dedicated himself to serving various communities in his quest to combat child and adult obesity through critical health education, movement, policy reform, and virtual reality.

Judson L. Jeffries is professor of African American and African studies at The Ohio State University and editor of the Journal of African American Studies. A political scientist by trade, Jeffries' work is interdisciplinary, having published in the areas of voting and elections, radical formations of the 1960s, police-community relations, media studies, public policy and popular culture. Jeffries is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, Incorporated.

Kevin L. Brooks is academic specialist for diversity and civic engagement in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University. His research and teaching areas include diversity and inclusion in higher education, civic engagement and community participation, health/wellness studies, and Black/Africana studies. His scholarly interests examine curriculum theory, critical social theory, and cultural pedagogy in relation to holistic wellness development, sociocultural aspects of play, media representations of the human body, the education of African American students, and the relationship between African American athletes and the sports industry.


2020 Editors Choice—Booklist, January 1, 2021


"Covering subjects that are frequently mentioned in contemporary discourse but not always fully explained (see, for instance, the informative entry on historically Black colleges and universities), this is a valuable resource for a wide range of readers."—Library Journal, November 1, 2020

"Suitable for college, university, and high-school collections, this entry in the Cultures of the American Mosaic series is both timely and essential."—Booklist, Starred Review, December 1, 2020
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