Kevin Young
Andrew W. Mellon Director


Kevin Young, Andrew W. Mellon Director
Photo by Leah L. Jones/NMAAHC
Living History

Opening the New York Stock Exchange

On Feb 21, Kevin Young rings The Opening Bell for the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) alongside descendants of historical figures represented in the museum to commemorate this significant moment.

Kevin Young is the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. As the nation's largest museum dedicated to telling the African American story, the 19th museum in the Smithsonian complex welcomes 2 million annual visitors and engages an international audience through world-class online programming and digital access to its collections.

Prior to joining the Smithsonian, Young served as the Director of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture from 2016-2021, where he oversaw significant increases to its funding, archive acquisitions, and visitor reach. A professor for two decades, he began his career in museums and archives at Emory University in 2005, first as Curator of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library and later as the Curator of Literary Collections, while serving as Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing.

An award-winning author of fourteen books of poetry and prose, Young is the poetry editor of the New Yorker, where he also hosts the poetry podcast. Young’s most recent works include Stones (2021), Brown (2018) and Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts & Fake News (2017), which was longlisted for the National Book Award and a National Book Critics Circle Award; two have also been named New York Times Notable Books. Other noteworthy titles include Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems 1995-2015 (2016), longlisted for the National Book Award; Book of Hours (2014), winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize and his nonfiction debut The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness (2012), which won the PEN Open Award and was named a New York Times Notable Book. His third poetry collection Jelly Roll: a blues (2003) was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Young is also the editor of nine volumes, most recently the anthology African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song, released in fall 2020 from Library of America. The collection was named one of the best books of 2020 by the New York Times Book Review, Esquire, TIME, the Atlantic, Good Morning America, O, the Oprah Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, Shelf Awareness, Lit Hub, and Barnes & Noble. The New York Times called it “monumental and rapturous”; NPR’s “Fresh Air” named it “the year’s most revelatory book”; and TIME magazine describes it as “a document both breathtaking and inspiring, historical and personal.”

Young holds a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard College and a Master of Fine Arts from Brown University. He has held a Stegner Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, and a NEA fellowship. Director Young is active across the art and cultural community. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was named a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2020.

Museum Council

N. Anthony Coles
Board Chair, Cerevel Therapeutics
Franklin D. Raines
Vice Chair of Finance Committee
Executive Chairman and Cofounder, XAPPmedia and    
Brian T. Moynihan  
Vice Chair of Development Committee  
Chairman and CEO, Bank of America
Edith Cooper  
Vice Chair of Nominating and Governance Committee  
Cofounder, Medley
Elizabeth Alexander
President, Mellon Foundation
Rosalind Brewer
Former CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance  
Lonnie Bunch  
Smithsonian Secretary
Laura Bush
Former, First Lady of the United States
Kenneth I. Chenault  
Chairman and Managing Director, General Catalyst
Kenneth L. Coleman
Chairman, Saama Technologies, Inc.

Damien Dwin  
Founder and CEO, Lafayette Square

Kenneth C. Frazier  
Former Chairman & CEO, Merck

David Grain  
CEO, Grain Management LLC  

Jonathan Holloway 
President, Rutgers University

Cathy Hughes  
Founder & Chairperson, Urban One, Inc. 

LaTanya Richardson Jackson  
Actress, Director, Producer

Cookie Johnson
Philanthropist, Entrepreneur, Author
Robert Johnson
Founder & Chairman, The RLJ Companies
Ted Leonsis
Founder, Chairman, Principal Partner & CEO,
Monumental Sports & Entertainment
Doris Matsui
Member, United States House of Representatives  

Charles Edwards Phillips, Jr.
Co-founder & Managing Partner, Recognize
Shonda Rhimes
Founder & Chief Storyteller, Shondaland
Danny Rimer
Partner, Index Ventures 
Carlos Santiago
Commissioner Emeritus, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education
Ruth J. Simmons
Former President, Prairie View A&M University; President Emerita, Brown University
Earl W. Stafford
CEO, The Wentworth Group
H. Patrick Swygert
President Emeritus, Howard University
Darren Walker
President, Ford Foundation
Anthony Welters
Founder and CEO, CINQCARE
Nadja West
Retired 44th U.S. Army Surgeon General
Oprah Winfrey
CEO, Harpo, Inc.

Scholarly Advisory Committee

With noted historian Dr. John Hope Franklin (1915-2009) as its Founding Chairman beginning in 2005, the museum created a scholarly advisory committee to help shape its intellectual agenda, exhibition content and programming.

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