Museum News

A Two-day Tribute to Curtis Mayfield Launches the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s June Programming

June 1, 2017
Photo of a warn Curtis Mayfield LP album cover.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture celebrates Black Music Month with a two-day tribute to singer-songwriter, guitarist, record producer and a two-time Grammy Hall of Fame inductee Curtis Mayfield Jr. Both programs paying tribute to Mayfield take place in the museum’s Oprah Winfrey Theater. 

 On Friday, June 2, at 7 p.m., the museum will present part one of People Get Ready: Honoring the Musical Legacy of Curtis Mayfield.” This program opens with a screening of Super Fly, the 1972 blockbuster directed by Gordon Parks Jr. and starring Ron Neal. The museum’s curator of music and the performing arts, Dwandalyn Reece, Ph.D., will moderate a post-screening conversation with the museum’s history curator, Kevin Strait, Ph.D., and Gregory Tate, a critic and cultural historian.  The public is encouraged to wear 1970s attire. 

On Saturday, June 3, from 7 to 9 p.m., the museum will present part two of “People Get Ready: Honoring the Musical Legacy of Curtis Mayfield.” This program features Mayfield’s son, gospel recording artist Curtis Mayfield III, in a discussion with critic Aaron Cohen and producer William “Johnny” Pate. The museum’s House Band, led by Rex Carnegie, will play Mayfield hits to highlight the discussion. June 3 would have been Mayfield’s 71st birthday.  The public is encouraged to wear 1970s attire and dancing shoes.

On Thursday, June 8, from 9 to 11 a.m., curator Aaron Bryant will lead Collecting LGBTQ History, an interactive social media tour of the museum for online audiences. Bryant’s tour will explore the work of familiar and unknown LBGTQ figures in African American history and illustrate their significance to racial progress.  

On Sunday, June 11, from 6:45 to 9:45 p.m. in the museum’s Heritage Hall, the museum will present “A Seat at the Table With LGBTQ Friends in Faith.” This is a participatory program that provides audiences a platform to confront challenging questions about race, identity, faith and sexual orientation. The museum will present clips from Yoruba Richen’s 2013 documentary film The New Black that tells a story of how the African American community grapples with gay rights and civil rights in light of the gay marriage movement. Earl Fowlkes, president and CEO of Black Equity Inc., will moderate a discussion between filmmaker Richen and Bishop Yvette Flunder, the presiding bishop of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, a multidenominational coalition of more than 55 churches and faith-based organizations from around the world. Ending the evening will be a performance by Lee Mokobe, South African slam poet and co-founder of Vocal Revolutionaries.   Tickets are $35 for the public; and $25 for members of the museum. Registration is required.

June programs conclude with “The Fire Next Time: A Conversation with Steve Schapiro Monday, June 12, from 7 to 9 p.m., in the Oprah Winfrey Theater. Acclaimed photographer Steve Schapiro will join Marcia Davis, articles editor and writer for the Washington Post Magazine for a conversation celebrating the release of a new photographic edition of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time. This publication pairs Baldwin’s written insights with approximately 100 photographs from the civil rights movement taken 50 years ago by Schapiro, during his travels with Baldwin for Life magazine. U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) is expected to join the discussion. Copies of the book will be available for sale and signing—courtesy of Smithsonian Enterprises. Registration is encouraged.


Media Contact(s): 

Shrita Hernandez  (202) 633-5089; 
Jermaine House (202) 633-9495; 

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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.