Musical Crossroads

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Music is the great equalizer around the world. No matter where it originates or what form it takes, it has had a profound role in shaping the human experience and preserving the history of that experience for centuries. African American music originated out of a heritage shaped by the Transatlantic Slave Trade and forced enslavement. The music born out of this shared identity was a means of survival, a treatise on the struggle for freedom, and an agent of social change, and generated a vast array of musical styles and performance traditions that have defined American music.

Musical Crossroads: Stories Behind the Objects of African American Music explores how objects can expand our understanding of the ways African American music-making continues to shape and influence society. Five thematic chapters are introduced with an essay by Dwandalyn R. Reece, and accompanied by shorter features written by Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture staff.

Museum Story

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the nation's largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted exclusively to exploring, documenting, and showcasing the African American story and its impact on American and world history. Established by an Act of Congress in 2003, it is the culmination of decades of efforts to establish a national museum that promotes and highlights the contributions of African Americans. To date, the Museum has collected close to 37,000 objects.


  • Hardcover
  • 224 pages
  • Color illustrations throughout
  • 11.2" x 9.8"
  • Edited by Dr. Dwandalyn R. Reece