The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) celebrates its seventh anniversary in September with a diverse set of programming including the National Endowment for the Humanities 2023 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities. The Jefferson Lecture will be delivered by Ruth J. Simmons, professor, author and president emerita of Prairie View A&M, Brown University and Smith College. The lecture is free and will stream online at

Throughout the month of September, visitors can participate in tours, including the Afrofuturism Tour series, Black Future Spotlights Tour series and the Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom Highlights Tour. More details are available on the museum’s website

The series “Through the Window and into the Mirror: Narratives of African American STEM Professionals” continues with a conversation with Ronald S. Gamble Jr. an award-winning Afro-Latino theoretical astrophysicist, STEM educator and visual artist. Gamble is a visiting assistant research scientist for the Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science & Technology II, a joint research program between NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of Maryland at College Park.

September Programming Schedule

Through the Window and into the Mirror”: A Career Conversation with Ronald Gamble, Ph.D. 
Friday, Sept. 1; 2 p.m.–3 p.m. ET 

“Through the Window and into the Mirror” is a video conversation series about the experiences of African American STEM professionals today. Students will peer into the ‘windows’ of the speakers’ lives, learn from their lived experiences as STEM professionals and find parts of their culture and lifestyle “mirrored” in the speakers’ lessons of their youth and greatest challenges and accomplishments. “Through the Window and into the Mirror” aims to inform, inspire and be a starting point for students as they take steps towards having careers in STEM. On Sept. 1, Ronald Gamble will be featured. The online program is free, however registration is required.  


Virtual Art Workshop—Building Design Ring Dish  
Thursday, Sept. 14; 6 p.m.–7:15 p.m. ET 
Online; $20 fee

In this workshop, participants will learn how to create a polymer clay trinket dish inspired by the iconic iron lattice work on the outside of NMAAHC. Polymer clay is lightweight, colorful clay that can be hardened in a home oven. Participants can learn about the museum’s architecture while forming a trinket dish using colors and patterns inspired by the ironwork. The virtual event fee includes the cost of all materials needed for the activity, hands-on instruction and a presentation by an NMAAHC educator. Participants must register by Sept. 4. More details are available. 


2023 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities   
Tuesday, Sept. 26; 7 p.m.–8:30 p.m. ET 
Heritage Hall  (in person and online) 

Ruth J. Simmons, professor, author and president emerita of Prairie View A&M, Brown University and Smith College, will deliver the 2023 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities. NEH’s Jefferson Lecture is the highest honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities.   

Simmons will deliver her lecture Sept. 26 at NMAAHC at 7 p.m. ET. The lecture is free, open to the public and will stream online at and on the museum’s streaming channels. Simmons will draw on her more than 50 years of experience as a scholar, pioneering academic administrator and change maker in higher education to speak in her lecture about the role of the humanities in fostering socioeconomic mobility and cultural belonging. Admission is free, however registration is required.  

New On View in the Museum

Barkley L. Hendricks, “Miss Brown to You” (1970) 
On view in the “Reckoning: Protest. Defiance. Resilience” exhibition.

Image of Portrait of "Miss Brown To You"
Credit: Collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of the National Endowment for the Arts 

Barkley Hendricks revolutionized portraiture through his stylized realist and post-modern images of African Americans. He began painting life-size portraits as his primary medium to address the lack of Black representation in the American art canon. Hendricks chose his models from his family, friends, people he met on the street and himself. This portrait of Suzanne Brown exemplifies his personal relationship with the sitters he painted. The title references his relationship to Brown, as well as the song “Miss Brown to You,” first recorded by Billie Holiday in 1935. Although many interpret his works as political statements, he maintained that they are not motivated by politics, stating, “My paintings were about people that were a part of my life....If they were political, it’s because they were a reflection of the culture we were drowning in.”  

Coming Soon

NMAAHC Emancipation Proclamation Video 
On Sept. 22, NMAAHC will publish a video on the musuem’s website featuring historians and museum staff reading the Emancipation Proclamation and reflecting on its significance today. The video also will include footage from the museum’s galleries and the Searchable Museum.

More than 160 years ago Sept. 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Under his wartime authority, he ordered that, as of Jan. 1, 1863, all enslaved individuals in all areas still in rebellion against the United States “henceforward shall be free.” He also enabled African American men to enlist in the armed forces. The war to preserve the Union also became a war to end slavery. More details and information are available on the museum’s website.  

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 9 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 or follow @NMAAHC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  

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Media Contacts

Melissa Wood

(202) 297-6161

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