Neonta Williams (left) shares family letters dating back to 1901 with preservationist Kimberly Peach during the Smithsonian's Save our African American Treasures program at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Peach advises her to use archive-quality polyester sleeves to protect the fragile papers, rather than store them in a zip-lock bag. Debbie Elliott/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Debbie Elliott/NPR

Janet Collins was€” the first prima ballerina to perform at the Metropolitan Opera. Ed Palumbo/Library of Congress hide caption

itoggle caption Ed Palumbo/Library of Congress

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus is seen at the Jan. 24 RNC winter meeting in Washington. Priebus celebrates the achievements of black Republicans in a series of new radio ads designed to honor Black History Month. Susan Walsh/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Susan Walsh/AP

Rosa, Charley and Rebecca are three of eight freed slaves who sat for portraits in 1863-1864 that were sold to raise money to fund schools for emancipated slaves in Louisiana. The three were chosen because it was believed their near-white complexions would draw more sympathy — and support — from a country torn apart by slavery and civil war. Charles Paxson/Library of Congress hide caption

itoggle caption Charles Paxson/Library of Congress

That's Bananas: "Whether [Josephine Baker's] getting a pedicure or she's walking down the street or she's relaxing in a yard somewhere, I just love the variety of pictures of her," Gainer says. "The banana skirt is a part of who she was, it's the most famous thing, but it just annoys me when that's just the only thing. ... There was a lot more to her than that." Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images