Museum News

Book Discussion With Renowned Historian Tiya A. Miles Headlines November Programming at the National Museum of African American History and Culture

October 28, 2021

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is featuring a discussion of renowned historian and Harvard professor Tiya A. Miles’ new book, All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake. In her latest book, Miles chronicles the story of three generations of Black women through Ashley’s sack, an embroidered cotton bag given to Ashley by her enslaved mother, Rose, before she was separated from her mother and sold during the period of slavery. As she follows the sack’s journey beginning with a visit to the museum where the sack was displayed in 2016, Miles uncovers the lives of those women and compiles the stories of other women and their shared experiences to preserve family ties.

Inspired by the museum’s latest exhibition, “Make Good the Promises: Reconstruction and Its Legacies,” the museum will host a discussion with Boyd Rutherford, lieutenant governor of Maryland, and Juliana Stratton, lieutenant governor of Illinois, to explore the issues they face holding statewide offices not widely held since Reconstruction.

Other November programming highlights include virtual programs for all ages such as conversations with trained museum docents on various museum objects, new installments of the Joyful Friday’s program on letters “E Is for Emotional” and “F Is for Fair” and a special edition of the museum’s award-winning series “gOD-Talk.”

November Programming

Historically Speaking: The Political Legacy of Reconstruction in the State House    
Thursday, Nov. 4; 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET

  • In a discussion led by NPR’s All Thing’s Considered host, Michel Martin, two African American lieutenant governors explore the issues they face holding statewide offices not widely held by African Americans since Reconstruction. Participants include Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford of Maryland  and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton of Illinois, with an introduction by Kevin Young, the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The discussion is free; however, registration is required.

gOD-Talk: Black Millennials and Faith Conversation Series “Special Edition Intergenerational Dinner Conversation” 
Saturday, Nov. 6; 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET 

  • The museum’s Center for the Study of African American Religious Life, in association with the Pew Research Center, continues its award-winning, multi-city conversation series “gOD-Talk” exploring the dynamic ways Black millennials are choosing to engage with faith and spirituality in the 21st century. This special edition of gOD-Talk is an intergenerational dinner conversation between Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z exploring the intersections of Black religion and spirituality, race, gender and sexuality, and more. The gOD-Talk Dallas conversation expands on many of the issues explored in the museum’s current exhibition, “Reckoning: Protest. Defiance. Resilience.” This event is free and will stream live on the museum’s Facebook and YouTube. Additional information about this event, including participating panelists, can be found on the museum’s website.  

NMAAHC Kids: Joyful Fridays
Nov. 5 and 19; 11 a.m. to 11: 45 a.m. ET

  • This live virtual program guides children to create art that celebrates Black joy, history and culture. It is inspired by the museum’s Joyful ABC’s activity book series that 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. This month, the first session will focus on “E Is for Emotional.” The second session will focus on “F Is for Fair,” 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. Joyful Fridays are free; however, registration is required. Recordings of past programs and livestreams can be found on Ustream

Meditation Mondays
Nov. 8 and 22; 12:30 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

  • In this virtual program, participants will contemplate the journey of African Americans toward liberation through meditation. During the 45-minute guided sessions, attendees will have an opportunity to reflect on their liberation and discuss the meaning of freedom. Meditation and yoga instructor Ericka Phillips will lead the sessions. No experience, equipment or special clothing is necessary. Meditation Mondays are free; however, registration is required.

Community + Conversations with a Docent
Tuesday, Nov. 9, and Friday, Nov. 19; 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET

  • During November, the museum’s Community + Conversation with a Docent program will highlight 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. The discussions are free; however, registration is required.

NMAAHC Kids: Classroom Connections
Nov 9, 11, 16 and 18; 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. and 1:30 to 2:15 p.m. ET

  • Classroom Connections experiences are live virtual school programs designed for kindergarten, first- and second-grade classes. Led by a NMAAHC educator, each 45-minute session per school class includes engaging conversations about history and objects from the museum collection, an interactive story time and an art project. Each class will receive a list of accessible supplies needed for the session. The programs are free; however, registration is required.

Historically Speaking: All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake with Tiya A. Miles  
Saturday, Nov. 13; 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

  • The museum’s Robert F. Smith History Center presents renowned historian Tiya A. Miles, Ph.D. in American studies, in a discussion of her latest work. Titled All That She Carried, the book documents and interprets the experiences associated with Ashley’s sack, an object handed down through three generations of Black women and later displayed at the museum. As she follows the sack’s journey, Miles metaphorically unpacks the bag, deepening its emotional resonance and exploring the significance of everything it contained. All That She Carried is a finalist for the 2021 National Book Award. The event is free; however, registration is required

About the National Museum of African American History and Culture 

Since opening Sept. 24, 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture has welcomed more than 7.5 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. 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.