Museum News

Book Discussion With Former Xerox CEO Ursula M. Burns Headlines July Programming at the National Museum of African American History and Culture

NMAAHC Launches New Webpage on 14th Amendment and African American Citizenship

July 1, 2021
A digital image of a July 4 march down Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. A woman stands holding a sign reading Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of James H Wallace Jr.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is offering a variety of midsummer virtual public programming in July. A book discussion with Ursula M. Burns, the first Black woman to be CEO of a Fortune 500 company, on her memoir Where You Are Is Not Who You Are will lead programming this month. During this discussion moderated by NPR’s Michel Martin, Burns shares her journey to becoming CEO, her 35-year career at Xerox and overcoming obstacles as a Black woman in corporate America.

The museum has launched a new webpage about the ratification of the 14th Amendment, which defined African Americans as equal citizens under the law three years after the abolishment of slavery. The webpage explores how African Americans have used the 14th Amendment to demand the acknowledgement of their full citizenship and advance civil rights in the United States.

In commemoration of the nation’s Independence Day, the museum will highlight a blog “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July” examining Frederick Douglass’ keynote address at an Independence Day celebration in 1852. The museum’s blog will be available Friday, July 2.

Additionally, the museum will feature an art workshop inspired by a painting in the museum’s collection with Alicia Mazzara and Cielo Contreras, the founders of Rock Paper Plant. Also in July, the museum will host a discussion and cooking demonstration with Chef Omar Tate of the pop-up dinner series Honeysuckle and other chefs across the country on the culinary traditions in the Black community and Black diasporic Southern roots in common Black foods. 

Community + Conversations with a Docent 
July

  • During July, the museum’s Community + Conversation with a Docent program will highlight the museum’s exhibitions featuring objects related to visual arts, culture and community. Intended for adults, these Zoom discussions center on different themes from the museum, with fully trained docents leading participants through 90-minute conversations inspired by objects and stories from the museum. Admission is free; however, registration is required.

Reconstructing Citizenship: Securing the Promise of the 14th Amendment
Thursday, July 1 

  • For over 150 years, the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has shaped ideas about what it means to be American. Ratified in 1868, three years after the abolishment of slavery, the 14th Amendment served a revolutionary purpose—to define African Americans as equal citizens under the law. The museum’s new webpage “Reconstructing Citizenship: Securing the Promise of the 14th Amendment” explores the 14th amendment’s ratification and African American citizenship. Although its promises of equality have not always been upheld, it has provided African Americans and other groups with a legal basis to challenge discrimination, demand equal rights and effect change. Today, the 14th Amendment remains central to key questions about citizenship and civil rights, national identity and inclusion: Who is included in “We the People”? Whose rights does the law protect? The webpage is now available.

NMAAHC Blog: A Nation’s Story: “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
Friday, July 2

  • The museum’s blog “A Nation’s Story: “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” examines Frederick Douglass’ keynote address at an Independence Day celebration in 1852. The blog assesses Douglass’ speech and the hypocrisy of the United States’ ideals for freedom. The museum’s blog will be available Friday, July 2. 

Joyful ABC Kids Activity Book Series—Final Release (W, X, Y, Z)
Monday, July 5

  • The Joyful Kids ABC Activity Book series invites caregivers and educators to support children’s positive identity development while also growing their language and literacy skills with activities, museum objects and new words. Each Joyful activity booklet gives participating adults insight into children’s developmental stages, age-appropriate play, art activities and opportunities to look closely at museum objects. The final series of activity booklets can be downloaded.

Virtual Art Workshop with Rock Paper Plant
Friday, July 9; 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET

  • The museum and the founders of Rock Paper Plant, Alicia Mazzara and Cielo Contreras, will explore artist Alma Thomas’ painting, “Spring—Delightful Flower Bed,” through a Zoom workshop. Mazzara and Contreras will speak about the artist and teach participants the basics of needle felting to make a Thomas-inspired creation. Participants must register and purchase tickets by June 28 to receive the materials and activity instructions. 

Joyful Fridays: Joyful ABC Activity Book Series
Fridays, July 9–30; 11 a.m. ET

  • Joyful Fridays welcome children each Friday in July to create art that celebrates Black joy, history and culture. This program is inspired by the museum’s Joyful ABC’s activity book series, which features activities, museum objects and new words based on characteristics featured in the book, A is for All the Things You Are: A Joyful ABC Book. To prepare for the activity, registered participants will receive a list of accessible supplies needed, recommended books and links to online resources in the museum’s early childhood Learning Lab collections. The materials will be distributed via email on the Monday before each program. This program is for children ages 4 through 8. Admission is free; however, registration is required.

Historically Speaking: Where You Are Is Not Who You Are: An Evening With Ursula Burns
Thursday, July 22; 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET

  • During this discussion, the first Black female CEO of a Fortune 500 company Ursula M. Burns looks back at her life and her career at Xerox, sharing her unique insights on American business and corporate life and the workers she has always valued. She will also discuss racial and economic justice and the obstacles she has conquered as a Black woman. The event is free, but registration is recommended

How Much For One Rib?: Virtual Cooking Demo and Conversation with Chef Omar Tate
Saturday, July 24; 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET

  • In this virtual program, chef Omar Tate will lead participants through the preparation of dishes included in a block party-inspired meal kit. Following the demonstration, NMAAHC curator Joanne Hyppolite will lead an intergenerational conversation about the shifting dynamics of gathering after the Great Migration with a group of esteemed chefs. Meal kits will be shipped frozen overnight to participants. Registration for the program must be completed by July 14 to receive a meal kit to prepare at home for the program. Tickets are available for purchase

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 seven million visitors. 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. 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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Media Contact(s): 

Cierra Jefferson (202) 633-7812; jeffersonc@si.edu 
Jason Spear (202) 445-7456; spearj@si.edu 

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The National Museum of African American History and Culture will be a place where all Americans can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience, what it means to their lives and how it helped us shape this nation. A place that transcends the boundaries of race and culture that divide us, and becomes a lens into a story that unites us all.