Museum News

National Museum of African American History and Culture Celebrates Kwanzaa and Offers Expansive Digital Programming in December

A Live Conversation From the International Space Station With Astronaut Victor Glover Is Featured

December 3, 2020
 Candles are lit on the Kinara in a Kwanzaa celebration Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has announced an expansive roster of digital programming, initiatives and interactive engagement opportunities for December. For 24 hours Dec. 11, several Smithsonian museums and centers, including the National Museum of African American History and Culture, will launch a cross-country digital community initiative, “24 Hours in a Time of Change.” The daylong program convenes a national conversation about what life is like for Americans during this moment in the nation’s history. Throughout the 24-hour sharing period, the Smithsonian will stream live programming from 10 Smithsonian museums and centers.

In celebration of this holiday season, the museum will launch an interactive Kwanzaa webpage Dec. 26, Kwanzaa’s first day. The webpage explores the origins and traditions of Kwanzaa through various resources, including a blog from museum oral historian Kelly Navies on the seven principles of Kwanzaa and ways to celebrate each day from home.

Additional programming includes a live chat with Victor Glover, NASA’s first black astronaut to take long-term residence on the International Space Station. The museum’s popular educational series, “Artists at Home,” will be available for students grades six–12. December programming also includes a candid discussion with some of the nation’s leading mayors centered on their work and response amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the debut of a tribute webpage celebrating Johnson Publishing Company’s 75th anniversary: “75 Years of Ebony Magazine.”

Artists at Home: School Outreach
Tuesday, Dec. 1; (program occurs every Tuesday and Thursday)

  • Adapted from the museum’s summer program, “Artists at Home” is designed to engage students with hands-on artmaking and conversations about African American artists and different visual art genres in this digital, interactive art program. Each hour-long session, led by a National Museum of African American History and Culture educator, will focus on a unique visual artist and encourage discussion around their work. Students can also participate in a hands-on art project using household materials. Educators and academic institutions are encouraged to register for this creative program designed for the at-home classroom. This program is for students in grades six–12. The program is free; however, registration is required at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming.

Live Chat From the International Space Station With NASA Astronaut Victor Glover
Thursday, Dec. 3; 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.

  • The National Museum of African American History and Culture is collaborating with the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum on a live discussion with Victor Glover, NASA’s first black astronaut to take long-term residence on the International Space Station (ISS). During Expedition 64, Glover and fellow NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins and Shannon Walker and Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi will work to develop SpaceX’s new spacecraft systems, which will provide round-trip crew transportation services to the ISS. Glover and crew successfully docked to the ISS Nov. 16, and the museum will help capture this historical moment through this live virtual Q&A event. Glover will speak about the mission’s objectives, his work in space, his career and respond to students’ questions. The program will be available for viewing at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming. More information about Glover and Expedition 64 is available at https://nmaahc.si.edu/learn/educators/stem-nmaahc/crew-dragon.

24 Hours in a Time of Change—A Digital Outreach Project
Friday, Dec. 11

  • To mark a year that has brought many unprecedented challenges and opportunities, the Smithsonian will host a daylong program convening a national conversation about what life is like for Americans during this moment in history. On Friday, Dec. 11, 10 Smithsonian museums and cultural centers will come together to host 24 Hours in a Time of Change. Throughout the day, the Smithsonian will offer virtual programs centered on contemporary issues, from the COVID-19 pandemic to racial injustice, and invite the public to reflect on and share their individual experiences grappling with the challenges of today. When it goes live Friday, Dec. 11, participants can visit the website 24hours.si.edu, where they will be invited to respond to museum prompts or questions by uploading photos, video or typed reflections. Selected responses will be featured on the program website throughout the day and archived to help Smithsonian curators build collections related to this moment in history.

Historically Speaking: Mayoral Leadership in the Time of COVID-19
Monday, Dec. 14; 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

  • In this panel discussion moderated by Michel Martin, host of NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered, mayoral leaders of major metropolitan areas will speak on their work amid COVID-19. The program will focus on the impact of COVID-19, establishing trust in periods of intense social unrest and an altered plan of action to “flatten the curve” against the backdrop of a volatile election year. Panelists include Angela Alsobrook, county manager of Prince George’s County, Maryland; London Breed, mayor of San Francisco; Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington, D.C.; Melvin Whitfield Carter III, mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota; Keisha Lance Bottoms, mayor of Atlanta; and Randall Woodfin, mayor of Birmingham, Alabama. The event is free; however, registration is required at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming.

Kwanzaa Webpage Launch
Saturday, Dec. 26

  • This holiday season, the museum is offering an online resource to guide families through Kwanzaa. In this new digital resource dedicated to exploring the holiday celebration of African American culture, visitors will learn about the holiday’s creation and access several activities rooted in Kwanzaa’s seven principles: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperation), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity) and Imani (faith). Interactive content and projects include a blog on Kwanzaa, its origins and celebration traditions from museum oral historian Kelly Navies, sing-alongs, coloring pages, book recommendations and recipes for the celebration feast Karamu Ya Imani. The webpage will be available for viewing Dec. 26 at https://nmaahc.si.edu/kwanzaa.

“75 Years of Ebony Magazine” Webpage

  • Starting with its first issue in November 1945, Ebony magazine captured and archived Black American perspectives for generations. The National Museum of African American History and Culture honors this historical publication and its publisher, Johnson Publishing Co., with a new webpage paying homage to Ebony’s contributions to African American photojournalism. This tribute details its significance and impact with quotes from editors and change-makers, archival photographs, detailed accounts and the documentation of historical events. “The 75 Years of Ebony” webpage explores the intergenerational documentation of Black America, as well as critical moments in history that have affected the African American community. Visit the webpage at https://nmaahc.si.edu/explore/collection/75-years-ebony-magazine.

All times are Eastern Standard Time.

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 6 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): 

Jermaine House 202-322-7354; housej@si.edu
Cierra Jefferson 202-633-7812; jeffersonc@si.edu

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