Museum News

National Museum of African American History and Culture Has Announced New Webpage and Editorial by the Museum’s Director and Sports Curator

Underscores Historical Role of Black Athletes in Social Justice Struggle

September 2, 2020
Washington Mystics players each wear white T-shirts with seven bullets on the back protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha, Wisconsin police Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has released a new webpage and editorial underscoring the museum’s commitment to social justice and highlighting the historical role of Black athletes in the struggle for social justice.

The page uses objects from the museum’s collection to provide the historical context of athlete activism. It features the editorial “Athletes for Social Change” co-written by Spencer Crew, the museum’s interim director, and Damion Thomas, the museum’s sports curator, in response to the recent boycott by several professional sports teams.

The initiative to document the growth and impact of contemporary movements for social justice is a part of the museum’s mission to collect and share stories of Americans’ decades-long struggle for freedom, justice and equality. 

Athletes for Social Change   
By: Spencer Crew and Damion Thomas 

When the Milwaukee Bucks made the surprising decision to not go onto the floor for an NBA playoff game, it started a chain reaction throughout sports. Rather than forfeiting the game, the NBA decided to postpone scheduled games for the next three nights. The WNBA postponed action for two days. Postponements followed in baseball, soccer, hockey and tennis. Perhaps, Los Angeles Sparks forward and players union president, Nneka Ogwumike, offered the best way to understand the halt in action from the players' perspective: she labeled it a "moment of reflection." This moment served as a time for players to grieve, plan, and recommit themselves to the fight.  

Continue reading by visiting the new webpage.   


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 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, follow @NMAAHC on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or call Smithsonian information at (202) 633-1000.

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Media Contact(s): 

Fleur Paysour (202) 633-4761; 
Lindsey Koren (202) 633-4052; 

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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.