Plus: Captain Kirk and Jane Goodall |

By Olivia B. Waxman
Staff Writer

Many American students learn about the Harlem Renaissance of 1920s and 1930s, but not that the NYC neighborhood had a thriving gay nightlife and literary scene as well, in part made possible by the Prohibition-era speakeasy culture. As part of TIME’s History You Didn’t Learn series—directed by Senior Producer Arpita Aneja and myself timed to LGBT History Month—we talk to literary scholars and a historic preservationist about overlooked entertainers, writers and drag ball culture of the much-renowned movement. Click here for the full story and video.

Why William Shatner’s History-Making Spaceflight Is Something to Celebrate
By Jeffrey Kluger
The man who gave us Captain Kirk left the planet for real
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There’s No Definitive List of Roman Empresses. Their Individual Stories Still Matter
By Mary Beard
Artists have failed to depict a complete set of Roman empresses, but we can still learn from the individual stories of those ancient women
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The Enduring Hope of Jane Goodall
By Ciara Nugent
“If young people succumb to the doom and gloom—if they lose hope—that’s the end,” Goodall tells TIME
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How Christopher Columbus Became an Italian-American Icon
By Olivia B. Waxman
How Columbus Day became a U.S. holiday and a source of pride for the Italian-American community
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Tensions Persist Between Native People and the Legacy of Christopher Columbus
Monday's federal holiday dedicated to Christopher Columbus highlights the divide between those who view the explorer as a representative of Italian American history and others horrified by an annual tribute that ignores native people whose lives were changed by colonialism
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This week in 1957: Repairmen

“‘‘They,’ in the moment of supreme exasperation that coincides with the collapse of an electric dryer on washday, is the apparently easy going, unhurried individual who is striving manfully to maintain the plumbing in the nation's 28 million homes, the wrench-wielding mechanic who administers to the health of the nation's 50 million autos, its 15 million power lawnmowers, its 375 million electric appliances. ‘They,’ is the U.S. Repairman in all his disguises—the familiar Mr. Fixit of fact and financial friction, the man everyone knows—assiduously courted, ardently denounced, universally accepted as the indispensable man of the gadget-ridden American home.”  (Oct. 14, 1957)

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This week in 1975: The Maharishi

"’He's the greatest spiritual leader of our age’ proclaimed one of the Maharishi's devoted band. ‘He hasn't established a religion, but a knowledge to benefit mankind.’...Why is there so much fuss about something so arcane-sounding as Transcendental Meditation? Simple. [Transcendental Meditation] is the turn-on of the '70s—a drugless high that even the narc squad might enjoy. All it demands of its practitioners is that they sit still for 20 minutes each morning and evening and silently repeat, over and over again, their specially assigned Sanskrit word, or mantra. This simple exercise is the cureall, its adherents claim, for almost everything from high blood pressure and lack of energy to alcoholism and poor sexual performance. (Oct. 13, 1975)

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This week in 1997: Buddhism

“The faith's attraction differs for different Americans. At a recent public appearance by the Dalai Lama, a woman named Ellen White said it helped her ‘to make sense out of life’ without the fear and guilt she associated with her earlier Roman Catholicism; converts also mention American Buddhism's relative lack of hierarchy. Meditation strikes some as a daily, direct experience of the sacred absent from Sundays-only religion; others hope to use it merely to tune out the late 20th century's frenzied multicasting or, as someone once advised, Be Here Now. Baby boomers embraced Buddhism as a means of protesting a war or widening their minds. To jaded, postmodern twentysomethings who suspect that institutions such as family, government or even reality are insubstantial, it offers assent--and a richer philosophical response than Kurt Cobain's nihilistic Nevermind. (Remember his band's name?) Others agree with Scorsese that "anything infused into our world today about nonviolence can only help." (Oct. 13, 1997)

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Memory wars: For the Washington Post’s “Made by History” section, historian Cynthia C. Prescott shows how Columbus Day got wrapped up in 1990s culture wars.

Words matter: The New York Times shares a recent speech from scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., on what literary freedom means in 2021.

Streetwise: Alabama Political Reporter's Josh Moon reports that Montgomery, Ala. has named a street after Rosa Parks’ attorney Fred Gray.

Tributes: Scholar Jason Steinhauer writes about the experience of attending a recent ceremony where Chinese-American WWII veterans received a Congressional Gold Medal and the history behind the community’s U.S. military service.

A-list: The American Historical Association compiles an entertaining list of celebrities who were history majors, from actor Sacha Baron Cohen to musician Jimmy Buffett.

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