Features

The Queen of the Kingdom of Swing

Despite a mountain of insecurities and sheer craziness, Peggy Lee remained undaunted. Engaging, and at times challenging, she made remarkably sophisticated music well into the 1980s, refusing to be an oldies act. But perhaps her greatest claim to public attention was that the blonde, North Dakota-born singer sounded black.

King David

For a decade in which rock music was reaching its zenith as a profitable business, the 1970s, it is staggering to consider the sheer number of risks Bowie took, without any hint or appearance that he was risking anything at all.

Blue Funk

There was something about the music that evening, at a party in her honor, that immediately captured Bessie Smith’s attention. As she entered the party with a few of her girlfriends, Smith remarked in classic fashion, “The funk is flyin’.”

Lawmen

Two new biographies reveal that police work is not so simple and straight-forward—cops versus robbers, order versus chaos—as many might think. Those enlisted in the job of enforcing the law are more complicated in their impulses and motivations, more conflicted or contradictory as human beings about the meaning of what they are doing, than partisans of either side willing to concede.

Integrating the FBI

One of the first African American Special Agents for the FBI, and a veteran of the bureau’s Hoover years, reflects on the past and future of law enforcement’s engagement with minority communities. “The practice of community policing has, I believe, been a factor in the improvement of relations, but there is still a continuing battle to establish trust,” says retired agent Wayne Davis.

Ferguson in Focus

On August 9, 2014, people had worried that Michael Brown would be forgotten. By September of that same year, it was clear no one would ever forget Brown, but what legacy his death would leave was in question.