Museum News

Discussion on National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Latest Book Make Good the Promises: Reclaiming Reconstruction and Its Legacies Leads October Programming

Museum Hosts Virtual Symposium Exploring African American Influence on Fashion

October 1, 2021
Alan Karchmer

The book and the exhibition, “Make Good the Promises: Reconstruction and Its Legacies,” form the centerpiece of activities celebrating the fifth anniversary of the opening of the museum. The discussion features two of the book’s contributors and the book’s co-editors, Kinshasha Holman Conwill, the museum’s deputy director, and Paul Gardullo, project director of the Reconstruction exhibition and director of the museum’s Center for the Study of Global Slavery. They are joined by two of the 11 contributors to the book: Hasan Kwame Jeffries, associate professor of history at Ohio State University and author of Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt, and Kidada E. Williams, associate professor of history at Wayne State University and author of They Left Great Marks on Me: African American Testimonies of Racial Violence from Emancipation to World War I. Programming in October also features a one-day symposium exploring the African American influence and impact on the fashion industry. The museum will also host its annual speakeasy evening in a two-part program. The first half of the program will examine the intersectionality of race and sexual identity during the Reconstruction era. The program will conclude with a film discussion on the famed documentary Paris is Burning.

Highlights of October

Virtual Programs NMAAHC Kids: Joyful Fridays   Oct. 1 and 15; 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. 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 “C is for Creative.” The second session will focus on “D is for Daring.” 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 e-mail on the Monday before each program. This program is for children ages 4 through 8. Admission is free; however, registration is required. Recordings of past programs and live streams can be found on Ustream.

Virtual Typewriter Poetry Pop-Up! With Ars Poetica

Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET

In America, Black poets have been the truth tellers, movement makers and creative catalysts who have guided the Black community through its most trying times and celebrated its greatest heights. During this virtual typewriter poetry pop-up, Ars Poetica poets Akolade Coker, Anthony McPherson and Kearah-Armonie will write participants a custom, one-of-a-kind poem on meaningful themes of their choosing. Participants can request a poem by registering on the museum’s events webpage. NMAAHC Kids: Classroom Connections Oct. 5, 7, 19 and 21; 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Classroom Connections experiences are live virtual school programs designed for kindergarten and 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. Admission is free; however, teachers are required to register.

In Dialogue: Smithsonian Objects and Social Justice

Thursday, Oct. 14; 7 p.m. ET

Each month, educators from the National Portrait Gallery will partner with colleagues from across the Smithsonian to discuss how historical objects from their respective collections speak to today’s social justice issues. This month’s session will explore the legislative and cultural story of voting rights from post-Civil War to the present through a collection of related objects—a 1870 15th Amendment colored lithograph and President Lyndon B. Johnson’s pen used to sign the 1965 Voting Rights Act into law. The conversation features Leslie P. Walker, head of NMAAHC’s academic and social justice department in the Office of Public Programs, and Beth Evans, National Portrait Gallery educator. This program is for ages 18 and older or youth accompanied by a parent or guardian. Admission is free; however, registration is required.

Speakeasy Evening—Historically Speaking: Constructing Community and “Paris Is Burning” to “Pose”—Choosing Family

Friday, Oct. 15; 6:30 p.m. ET and 8 p.m. ET T

The museum will host its annual Speakeasy Evening virtually, celebrating its LGBTQ+ community and its allies. All gender identities and orientations are welcome to attend a night of camaraderie and discussion. The era of Reconstruction saw a hardening of racial boundaries between Black and white and the emerging definitions of sexual identities. In the first segment of the Speakeasy Evening, Channing Gerard Joseph, author of the soon-to-be published book House of Swann: Where Slaves Became Queens and Sarah Haley, Black feminist scholar and associate professor of history at Columbia University, will discuss the intersectionality of race and sexual identity during the Reconstruction Era. In the second segment of the Speakeasy Evening, Junior LaBeija, the emcee who gave voice to the ballroom, will discuss Paris Is Burning, a flamboyant documentary that illustrates the beauty of chosen family and served as the inspiration for the television series Pose. Admission is free; however, registration is required. This program is supported by Sun Life.

Fashion, Culture, Futures: African American Ingenuity, Activism, and Storytelling Symposium

Thursday, Oct. 21; 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET

“Fashion, Culture, Futures: African American Ingenuity, Activism, and Storytelling” is a two-part symposium co-organized by NMAAHC and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. The first symposium was presented by Cooper Hewitt and aired in June 2021. These programs gather academics, designers, critics, models, artists, activists and others to share new perspectives on the relationship between fashion and the African American experience. The second symposium, presented by NMAAHC, explores the ways African Americans have and continue to redefine the fashion industry. Despite inequality, discrimination and misrepresentation, African Americans have creatively influenced and been influenced by the fashion industry. The symposium will cover the historical and contemporary contributions of African American designers, the fashion collections at NMAAHC, LGBTQ+ influences on fashion, modeling during and after segregation, social media and fashion and African Americans in the global world of fashion. Registration for the symposium opens Oct. 4. Admission is free; however, registration is required and tickets are limited. The museum’s symposium will be recorded and available to watch on demand after the program airs Oct. 21. The Cooper Hewitt symposium is currently available for view. The program is supported by American Express and a One Smithsonian Award from the Under Secretary for Museums, Education and Research.

Historically Speaking: “Make Good the Promises: Reclaiming Reconstruction and Its Legacies” Book Talk Featuring Co-editors Kinshasha Holman Conwill and Paul Gardullo

Tuesday, Oct. 26; 7 p.m. ET

The companion book to NMAAHC’s current exhibition “Make Good the Promises: Reconstruction and Its Legacies,” this collection of essays by a group of distinguished historians explores the impact of Reconstruction, its triumphs and shortcomings related to voting rights, education, the judicial system and more. Greg Carr, associate professor of Afro-American studies at Howard University, will moderate a discussion with the book’s co-editors Kinshasha Holman Conwill, the museum’s deputy director, and Paul Gardullo, museum curator. With them will be two of the book’s 11 contributors: Hasan Kwame Jeffries, associate professor of history at Ohio State University, and Kidada E. Williams, associate professor of history at Wayne State University. With a foreword by historian Eric Foner, author of more than 10 books on the Reconstruction era, the book received a starred review from Publishers Weekly: “Firmly planted in both the past and the present, this is an excellent introduction to an oft-misunderstood chapter in American history.” Admission is free; however, registration is required.

Through the African American Lens: The Neutral Ground: A Conversation with CJ Hunt and Darcy McKinnon

Thursday, Oct. 28; 7 p.m. ET

In a moderated discussion, director CJ Hunt, producer Darcy McKinnon and renowned historians will discuss the PBS American Documentary/POV film The Neutral Ground. Hunt’s debut feature documentary and an official selection of the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, The Neutral Ground presents the intense debate about the removal of Confederate monuments from public view and the emergence of the Lost Cause principle in New Orleans, Richmond, Virginia, and Charlottesville, Virginia. After registering, participants will be able to view the documentary before the conversation. Admission 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. # # #

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.