February: Black History Month

February 1st will mark the beginning of  Black History Month (also referred to as African-American Month) in both the United States and Canada.  This dedication month is celebrated annually to highlight and remember the achievement of African Americans and illuminate their vital role in the history of the United States.

The origin of Black History Month cultivated after the national Negro History Week of 1915, which was established by the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). The ASNLH was coordinated by Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard historian, and Jesse E. Moorland, a minister. President Jimmy Carter was the first of the presidents to commence February as Black History Month, stating it calls “attention to the contributions of black people to our overall progress and development, the month of February thus serves to build goodwill and understanding between all people.” Every U.S. president thereafter officially dedicated the month of February as Black History Month.

See also: The Smithsonian’s online exhibit for Black History Month





Easy Steps to take to Protect Your Data

Data Privacy Day was two days ago on January 28th.  No worries, though!  You didn’t miss anything if you choose to evaluate how you protect your data today.  Stay Safe Online is powered by the National Cyber Security Alliance and has some great tips to keep yourself protected.

The internet is a strange and confusing place sometimes.  It can be difficult to understand how to keep yourself protected.  As a general rule you should be following some of these easy steps.  Keep your machine clean by watching out for malware, spam & phishing, hacked accounts, and make sure you secure your own private network.  This doesn’t stop at just your computer, either.  Your mobile phone can be hacked as well.  If the NSA has time to get some of your private data through your latest Angry Birds game, imagine what a determined hacker can do to obtain sensitive information!  Stay Safe Online even has a place to go to help parents with cyber bullying.

Remember that the internet is ever changeable, and rules can change quickly.  Keep an eye out for any new online threats (don’t ignore them!).  As Stay Safe Online says: own your online presence.  Once you become responsible for it, the internet may seem less scary every day.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo Library Resources

In anticipation of the upcoming performance of Ladysmith Black Mambazo on February 8 at 7:30pm in Lund Auditorium, one of our library’s student employees, Michael Joseph – currently a student in Dominican’s GSLIS, compiled a guide for library resources surrounding Ladysmith Black Mambazo and their history.

State of the Union Trivia

State of the Unions have been a tradition since George Washington.  Article II, Section III of the Constitution declares that a president should give a brief overview of the state of the union every year to Congress.  It’s not surprising that Washington was the first president to give a “State of the Union.”  What is surprising is that Thomas Jefferson thought that giving the speech orally was too royal, and opted to write to Congress.  This tradition continued until Woodrow Wilson decided to orally deliver the speech again.  Other cool trivia about the State of the Union:

  • FDR was the first president to give this speech and have it called the “State of the Union.”
  • Truman’s State of the Union was the first televised.
  • The first opposition response was in 1966, and the Republican Party felt that they needed a response since it was being televised during prime time.  The person they chose?  Gerald Ford was the first opposition party response, and there have been six more times that the opposition response was given by a future President or Vice President of America ( Ford in 1966 and 1967, Ford and Rep. George Bush of Texas–among others–in 1968, Rep. Al Gore, among others, in 1982, Joe Biden, among others, in 1983 and 1984, and Bill Clinton, among others, in 1985).
  • One person in the Cabinet, one member of the House, and one member of the Senate do not attend a State of the Union.  These members are kept separate throughout the entire address.  This is to ensure a continuity in policy if there were to be a catastrophic event during a State of the Union.

If you are even more curious about the State of the Union Congress put together a FAQ in 2006, and two college professors from the University of California at Santa Barbara compiled the Presidency Project.   And there is always our collection in our catalog!

References: Schlesinger, R. (2012). State of the Union Trivia and History. U.S. News & World Report.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo in Concert

By: Bryan Deziel and Rebecca Komperda
POST UPDATE: On January 26, Ladysmith Black Mambazo won their fourth grammy.  Their album “Live: Singing For Peace Around The World” won Best World Music CD.
Photo Gallery of Ladysmith Black Mambazo
See also: Ladysmith Black Mambazo Library Research Guide

Dominican University will be hosting Ladysmith Black Mambazo on  Saturday, February 8 in the Lund Auditorium at 7:30 PM.   Ladysmith Black Mambazo  is an all-male a cappella group from South Africa singing isicathamiya harmonies. The group formed during the 60’s by Joseph Shabalala, making their breakthrough as part of the Paul Simon’s Graceland project and soon became one of South Africa’s most prolific recording artists. The group has already been nominated  for 13 Grammy Awards, winning 3 since 2009.

Ladysmith values the importance of ensuring that the young South Africans maintain their isicathamiya traditions through their voices and melodies as well as the importance of being in the post-apartheid time. Dominican University is very excited to welcome the group to campus coming next month.

Purchase Tickets  More event information can be found at: http://events.dom.edu/ladysmith-black-mambazo

Led by founding member Joseph Shabalala, Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a nine member choral group hailing from South Africa.  Heavily influenced by isicathamiya, a traditional style of music and dance among the rural and mine workers of South Africa, Shabalala attributes Ladysmith’s distinct style to a dream he had shortly before founding the group in 1964 – a dream of, “a [new], big voice, beautiful, blending very nice.”  After achieving local success in South Africa, the group leapt to international fame after collaborating with Paul Simon on his famous 1986 album, Graceland.  The group’s three part name refers to Joseph Shabalala’s hometown of Ladysmith, “Black” is a reference to an ox, a tribute to the group’s rural roots, and “Mambazo” is the Zulu word for “axe,” a boast of the group’s ability to “chop down” any competition.

Founded by Joseph Shabalala in 1964, the group quickly gained notoriety for their tight, polished performances to the point of being banned from competing in local music competitions.  Throughout the 1960s and 70s, the group produced a number of singles which were featured on Radio Zulu, and in 1973, the group signed their first record contract with Gallo Ltd, the largest record company in South Africa at the time.  In 1975, Shabalala converted to Christianity, and the topics of Ladysmith’s music shifted from traditional folk themes to songs of religious and spiritual inspiration.  By the time Paul Simon sought out the group in 1985, Ladysmith had recorded 25 albums in South Africa.  However, it was the collaboration with Simon on two tracks for his album Graceland (“Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes,” and “Homeless”) that skyrocketed the group to international fame.  In 1988, Simon produced Ladysmith’s albumn, Shaka Zulu which earned the group its first of three Grammys.  Since that time, the group has recorded or been featured on over 50 albums and soundtracks, and collaborated with many other Western artists.

The legacy of Paul Simon’s Graceland has been occasionally debated.  Some point to the album’s lack of political content and the fact that it violated a pre-existing UNESCO cultural boycott of South Africa meant to combat apartheid as evidence that the album had little direct impact on most black South Africans.  On the other hand, many, including Joseph Shabalala are adamant that the album helped to raise awareness about South Africa and move the oppression of apartheid closer to the center of the international stage.  Certainly within a decade of the album’s release, Nelson Mandela had been freed and the country held its first democratic elections, bringing a sunset to the era of apartheid in South Africa.


Erlmann, Veit. (2001). “Shabalala, Bhekizizwe Joseph.” In Stanley Sadie (ed.) The New Grove Dictionary
of Music and Musicians
, 2nd edition, Vol. 23, p. 187-188. New York: Grove’s Dictionaries.

Hamm, Charles. (1989). “Graceland Revisited.” Popular Music. Vol. 8, No. 3 (October, 1989), p. 299-304.

“Ladysmith Black Mambazo.” (1998). In Larkin, Colin (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 3rd
edition, Vol. 4, p. 3107. Chalk Farm, London : Muze UK.

Lynn, Neary. (2003). “Profile: Joseph Shabalala’s musical dreams and his long journey from mine worker
to friend of Paul Simon.” Weekend All Things Considered (NPR) Newspaper Source, EBSCOhost
(accessed January 16, 2014).

Ngakane, Lindiwe. (1996) “At Home With Ladysmith Black Mambazo.” Ebony. (September, 1996), p. 94,
pp. 96-100.

Tavis, Smiley. (2004). “Interview: Joseph Shabalala discusses the music of his group, Ladysmith Black
Mambazo.” Tavis Smiley (NPR) Newspaper Source, EBSCOhost (accessed January 16, 2014).

Apartheid and the Cultural Boycott of South Africa

By: Bryan Deziel

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the end of apartheid in South Africa.  In conjunction with the upcoming performance by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, this presents an opportunity to remember and reflect on the era of apartheid and its legacy.  The Rebecca Crown Library has constructed a display on the first floor of the library featuring posters, photos and descriptions of the apartheid era and international anti-apartheid movement.  The display also features the role Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s collaboration on Paul Simon’s Graceland played in bringing the oppression of apartheid to the center of the international stage.  We invite you to stop by the display next time you are in the library and remember the struggle that was apartheid.

Visit the display on Crown Library’s first floor.