Museum News

National Museum of African American History and Culture Celebrates LGBT History Month and Legacy of John Lewis With October Digital Programming

October 8, 2020
Pauli Murray of New York, the winner of a 1946 Mademoiselle Merit Award for signal achievement in law. Pauli Murray of New York, the winner of a 1946 Mademoiselle Merit Award for signal achievement in law. Credit: Getty Image/Bettmann/Contributor

In honor of LGBT History Month, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is hosting its annual Harlem Renaissance themed Speakeasy Evening Thursday, Oct. 15, celebrating all gender identities and orientations.

A Speakeasy Evening will feature performances from artist and trans activist Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi and comedian Sampson McCormick, a genealogy workshop and a conversation about the life and achievements of Pauli Murray (1910–1985)—the first in her class at Howard University Law school (and the only woman), the first African American to earn a Doctor of the Science of Law degree from Yale Law School and the first African American female ordained as an Episcopal priest.

Additional October programming includes a special program exploring the legacy of the late John Lewis (1940–2020), known for his tireless defense of civil and human rights and his unshakeable advocacy for voting rights; a book discussion with Dr. Bettye Kearse; a reading and discussion of “The Fierce 44: Black Americans that Shook Up the World”; and a virtual gOD-Talk series presented by NMAAHC’s Center for the Study of African American Religious Life, “gOD-Talk 2.0: Digital #BlackFaith.”

The Other Madisons: The Lost History of a President’s Black Family
Saturday, Oct. 10 (12 p.m. to 1 p.m. ET)

  • In this virtual discussion, author and essayist Dr. Bettye Kearse will be speaking about her new book The Other Madisons. Kearse will share her story learning her family’s connection to the fourth president and becoming an eighth-generation griotte—a family historian and storyteller. Admission to this event is free; email familyhistorycenter@si.edu to register for the event.

A Speakeasy Evening
Thursday, Oct. 15 (7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. ET)

  • The museum will host its annual Speakeasy Evening virtually, celebrating its LGBTQ+ community and its allies. All gender identities and orientations are welcome to enjoy this night of entertainment featuring a performance from artist and trans activist, Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi, a genealogy workshop presented by the staff of the Robert F. Smith Explore Your Family History Center on finding and honoring LGBTQ+ ancestors and a panel discussion about the life and achievements of Pauli Murray, a prominent figure of intersectionality. Panelists include E. Patrick Johnson, C. Riley Snorton, Kylar Broadus and Rev. Yolanda Rolle. The event will conclude with social commentary from comedian Sampson McCormick. Admission is free; however, registration is required at https://nmaahc.si.edu/event/upcoming.

Historically Speaking: The Legacy of John Lewis Through the Lens of the National Museum of African American History and Culture
Friday, Oct. 16 (7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET)

  • The late Rep. John Lewis (1940–2020) ardently supported the establishment of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, starting in 1988 when he wrote and introduced the first legislation to create the museum. During this discussion, a distinguished panel of Lewis’ friends and colleagues will discuss his storied life and accomplishments and explore the congressman’s sustained support of the museum and its mission to affirm what it means to be an American. Michel Martin, host of NPR’s “Weekend Edition All Things Considered,” will moderate the panel. Panelists include Cheryl Johnson, 36th Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Lonnie G. Bunch, 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; Tammy Boyd, chief policy officer and senior counsel of the Black Women’s Health Imperative and former legislative director for Lewis; Linda Johnson Rice, member of NMAAHC’s Advisory Council, emerita; and Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954–63, and member of NMAAHC’s Scholarly Advisory Committee. Admission is free; however, registration is required at https://nmaahc.si.edu/event/upcoming.

Historically Speaking: The Fierce 44—A Conversation With Kevin Merida and Steve Reiss
Saturday, Oct. 17 (3 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET)

  • Adapted from the online project, 44 African Americans who shook up the world, The Fierce 44 is a book targeted to readers age 10 and up, written by contributors of undefeated.com and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt with color portraits by illustrator Robert Hill. The book contains a collection of essays about prominent African American figures, including President Barack Obama, Michael Jordan, Toni Morrison and others. Kevin Merida, Steve Reiss and Soraya McDonald of the Undefeated will read and discuss this collection with participants. Admission is free; however, registration is required at https://nmaahc.si.edu/event/upcoming.

gOD-Talk: A Black Millennials and Faith Conversation Series
Tuesday, Oct. 27 (7 p.m. ET)

  • gOD-Talk, a program spearheaded by the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Center for the Study of African American Religious Life, delves into the relationship of millennials to religion and spirituality. This month, “gOD-Talk 2.0: Digital #BlackFaith” will be an intergenerational discussion about Black religion in the digital age and will feature a number of panelists, including assistant professor at Wake Forest School of Divinity and curator of Pink Robe Chronicles, Rev. Melva Sampson, Ph.D.; wellness coach and host of “Lights On” podcast, Angelica Lindsey-Ali, also known as “Village Auntie”; hip-hop artists OSHUN; oracle and spiritual life coach, Jynnette Lewis; actress and CEO of Inner Fitness, Tina Lifford; director of People and Culture at Whole30, Carrie Kholi-Murchison, Ph.D.; host and producer of “Young & Muslim Podcast,” Jibreel Salaam; founder and president of Black Nonbelievers Inc., Mandisa Thomas; research associate at Pew Research Center, Kiana Cox; associate chaplain for Jewish Life at Elon University, Rabbi Sandra Lawson; assistant professor at the University of Arizona, Rev. Erika Gault, Ph.D.; host of the “Willie Moore Jr. Show,” Willie Moore Jr.; co-host of the “Willie Moore Jr. Show,” Krystal Lee; and museum specialist of religion at NMAAHC, Teddy R. Reeves, M.Div. This event is free and will stream live at www.facebook.com/NMAAHC. Additional information about this event can be found at https://nmaahc.si.edu/event/upcoming.

 

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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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.