Afrofuturism and HBCUs Highlight October Programming at the National Museum of African American History and Culture
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) celebrates Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the “Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures” exhibition series in October. Throughout the month, visitors can participate in Afrofuturism-themed programs, activities and workshops that explore Black identity, agency and freedom through art, creative works and activism.
In honor of homecoming season at HBCUs, virtual visitors can learn about the history and legacy of HBCU homecomings with the return of the award-winning campaign and its webpage, “Homecoming: A Celebration of HBCUs and Their Legacies.” A new, interactive map of HBCUs is available on the Searchable Museum. More information about the HBCU digital offerings is on the museum’s social media channels.
At the Sweet Home Café, the menu will feature special selections Oct 2.–Oct. 15 in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. For more details, visit the museum’s website.
The NMAAHC Center for Digitization and Curation of African American History continues its 2023 Community Curation Program this October in collaboration with Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. More details are available on the museum’s website.
The documentary film, “gOD-Talk: A Black Millennials and Faith Conversation,” a groundbreaking project led by the Center for the Study of African American Religious Life in association with the Pew Research Center, also arrives at the museum this October. The film features leading millennial voices and amplifies their individual and shared experiences in a curated conversation streamed to audiences online across the United States and around the world.
October Programming Highlights (programs are in person and/or virtual)
Explore More! In STEM: Having Fun With Frequencies
Oct. 3 and 4; 11 a.m.–1 p.m.
In this classroom program for ages 8 and older, participants will explore STEM concepts in relation to African American history and culture and the museum. In this lesson, participants will learn about sound, frequency, famous African American electric guitarists and how electric guitars work. The program is free; however, registration is required.
Virtual Art Workshop—Sun Ra Costume Embroidery
Wednesday, Oct. 11; 6 p.m.–7:15 p.m. ET
Online; $20 fee
In this workshop, participants will learn how to make an embroidery project inspired by the purple star costume designed by Sun Ra. The costume is currently on display as part of the museum’s Afrofuturism exhibit. Participants will learn about the music and fashion of Afrofuturism as they stitch. Participants must register by Oct. 2. Ticket includes materials. More details are available online.
A Speakeasy Evening: Black in the Cosmos: Claiming OUR Space
Wednesday, Oct. 11; 7 p.m.–11 p.m.
This program is inspired by the speakeasy clubs of the Harlem Renaissance, which were welcoming and inclusive places for the African American LGBTQ+ community. Participants are invited to a space that welcomes LGBTQIA+ African Americans (and allies) of all gender identities and orientations to experience performances, dance, music and artmaking inspired by the exhibition “Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures.” The event is free; however, registration is required.
History Lab Express Cart—Afrofuturism: Become a Cosmic Historian
Thursday, Oct. 12, 17 and 20; 11 a.m.–1:30 p.m., and Monday, Oct. 16; 12 p.m.–2:30 p.m.
At this event, participants can get their hands on history with self-guided activities that take them on an immersive exploration of the galleries. With the focus on Afrofuturism, stop by the History Lab Express Cart to see what adventures await. This event is ideal for students in grades three to 12, but all ages are welcome. Activities and prizes are subject to availability. More details are available online.
NMAAHC Kids Learning Together: Building the Future
Friday, Oct. 13; 11 a.m.–noon
In this virtual program, participants will use their imaginations to build the future, inspired by the museum’s newest exhibit, “Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures.” Together, participants will learn about African artist Bodys Isek Kingelez and explore how he used art to think about the ways cities and buildings could look in the future. Then, children will become architects as they creatively use recycled materials to build their own futuristic structures. This program is designed for ages 5 and up. The program is free; however, registration is required.
Exploring Black Futures Tour & Spoken Word Poetry Workshop
Saturday, Oct. 14; 11 a.m.–1 p.m.
Concourse, Oprah Winfrey Theater
In this ekphrastic poetry workshop, participants will deepen their experience of the exhibition, “Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures,” and let it inspire their writing. Ekphrastic poetry responds to a work of visual art, generally a painting, object, sculpture or photograph. During the workshop, attendees will tour the exhibit and spend time composing an individual work about Black Futures. The workshop will be led by international slam poetry champion, Anthony McPherson. This event is recommended for ages 14 and up. Participants under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. The workshop is free; however, registration is required.
Afrofuturism STEAM Day
Saturday, Oct. 14; 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
First and second floors
During this STEAM Day event, students and families will envision the future while peering through the lenses of space exploration, human health and technology. Activities include hands on STEAM activities, presentations by STEAM professionals, a create-your-own superhero art workshop and more. The event is free; however, registration is required.
A Seat at the Table: Collections, Conservation and Social Justice
Saturday, Oct. 14; 12 p.m.–2:30 p.m.
Fisk University, Jubilee Hall (Nashville, Tennessee)
This event promises to be an engaging and informative experience for anyone interested in the contributions of African Americans to Nashville’s historic landscape. The program will feature a panel of archivists, librarians, genealogists and researchers dedicated to preserving and maintaining archives and artifacts that connect present-day populations with their ancestral communities. Through their work, these professionals help foster a deeper sense of identity and heritage—a true act of social justice. This event will take place in Jubilee Hall at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. More details are available.
Virtual Cooking Demo and Conversation With Chef Jonny Rhodes—The Butterfly Effect of Afro-Orientalism in the Caribbean
Saturday, Oct. 14; 12:30 p.m.–2:30 p.m. ET
Online; $20 fee
During this virtual cooking demo, Ashley Young, historian of the American Food History Project at the National Museum of American History, will join Chef Jonny Rhodes of Food Fight Farms and Broham Soul Food & Groceries for a cooking demonstration and lively discussion exploring the culinary heritage and stories of the chef’s hometown Houston’s historic Fifth Ward. Rhodes will lead participants through the preparation of dishes included in the curated meal kit. More details are available online.
Afrofuturism Block Printing Workshop—OutKast
Sunday, Oct. 15; 1 p.m.–3 p.m. ET
Online; $20 fee
In this virtual workshop, participants will combine musical inspiration and the creative process, joining printmaker Pantera Saint-Montaigne and education specialist Cassidy Moses as they explore the group, OutKast. While listening to their songs, participants will learn how to create a design for printing, influenced by the Afrofuturist-inspired Southern Hip-Hop duo. Participants must register by Oct. 3. Tickets include materials. More details are available online.
Explore More! In STEM: To the Moon and Beyond!
Oct. 18, 24 and 25; 11 a.m.–1 p.m.
In this classroom program for ages 8 and older, participants will explore STEM concepts in relation to African American history, culture and the museum. In this lesson, people will learn about African Americans that have worked or are currently working at NASA, and the Artemis mission. The program is free; however, registration is required.
Art + Justice: When We See Ourselves as Heroes
Thursday, Oct. 19; 7 p.m.–8:30 p.m. ET
Concourse, Oprah Winfrey Theater and online
During this exhilarating conversation, featured panelists Eve Ewing, Tim Fielder and Jonathon Gayles will delve into the world of Black superheroes in comics and scripted media, discussing their cultural significance and impact on representation. Tatiana King and DJ BenHaMeen, host of the podcast For All Nerds Show, will moderate the panel. This event also supports the Afrofuturism exhibition at NMAAHC. Audience members are encouraged to wear their favorite superhero T-shirt or cosplay as their favorite hero. The program is free; however, registration is required.
Comic Book Workshop Feat. Tim Fielder of Dieselfunk Studios
Thursday, Oct. 19; 9 a.m.–2 p.m.
At this program, students in grades six to 12 will join the NMAAHC and Tim Fielder of Dieselfunk Studios to learn how to create sequential art for cartoons and comics. Participants will learn techniques of script writing, panel-to-panel layout, breakdowns, lettering, illustration and coloring. Participants will also engage in giving and receiving critique and constructive feedback. At the end of the session, participants will have the opportunity to present their work to their peers and others. Supplies and lunch will be provided. Registration is required.
gOD-Talk: A Black Millennials and Faith Conversation
Series Showing Oct. 23; 7 p.m.–9:30 p.m., and Oct. 25, 26 and 29; 2 p.m.–3:30 p.m.
Oprah Winfrey Theater
The “gOD-Talk: A Black Millennials and Faith Conversation” documentary film features a series of conversations aimed at uncovering how millennials interact with religion and the transformative nature of community, the internet, and space. This project is led by the Center for the Study of African American Religious Life in association with Pew Research Center. The program is free; however, registration is required.
New On View in the Museum
“Better and Better Lyrics” handwritten by Aretha Franklin (late 20th century–early 21st century) ink on paper.
On view in the “Musical Crossroads” exhibition.
Aretha Franklin (1942–2018) was a talented vocalist and songwriter celebrated for her approach to interpreting lyrics. These handwritten lyrics for an unrecorded duet demonstrate her creative process.
Ring with gold and diamond “MTV” owned by Fab Five Freddy
On view in the “Musical Crossroads” exhibition.
Fab Five Freddy wore this custom gold and diamond ring during his tenure as host of Yo! MTV Raps.
Team USA Olympic uniform singlet worn by Tommie Smith
On view in the “Sports: Leveling the Playing Field” exhibition.
Runners Tommie Smith and John Carlos famously raised their gloved fists in the 1968 Olympics in protest against racial discrimination.
About the National Museum of African American History and Culture
Since opening on Sept. 24, 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture has welcomed more than 9 million in-person visitors and millions more through its digital presence. Occupying a prominent location next to the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the nearly 400,000-square-foot museum is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted exclusively to exploring, documenting and showcasing the African American story and its impact on American and world history. The museum has also launched and is continually expanding its reach with the Searchable Museum portal and other efforts to bring the African American history into the world’s hands and homes. For more information about the museum, visit nmaahc.si.edu follow @NMAAHC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or call Smithsonian information at (202) 633-1000.
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