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AfriGeneas Genealogy and History Forum

Folklore Encyclopedia Promotes Understanding

Folklore Encyclopedia Promotes Understanding of African-American Culture

MU professor Anand Prahlad wrote 40 entries and edited the three-volume set

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- African Americans have made numerous contributions to American culture. Emphasizing the need for those contributions to become more commonly known in society and included in public school curriculums nationwide, a University of Missouri-Columbia faculty member played a key role in the publishing of an encyclopedia chronicling African-American folklore and its influence on American art, music, film, literature and religion.

Anand Prahlad, a professor of English in the College of Arts and Science, edited The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Folklore. He also compiled the topics and wrote 40 entries in the three-volume set that includes about 700 entries. In addition to Prahlad's efforts, more than 150 African-American, Caribbean and African experts contributed to the publication, which Prahlad said is "for anyone interested in African-American culture."

Topics range from the origins of the banjo and zoot suits to the history of Kwanzaa, Juneteenth, Aunt Jemima, the dozens and rhythm and blues. The encyclopedia explores several Caribbean and African traditions, which have impacted African-American dance, music and religious practices. It also features narratives and biographies of various African-American writers, scholars, musicians and entertainers whose work relates to folk traditions. Prahlad hopes the publication becomes a standard and routinely used resource for public school teachers and students, as well as higher-education scholars, researching various aspects of African-American history.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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