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The National Museum of African American History and Culture Opening September 24, 2016


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In Memoriam Dr. Calvin W. Rolark, Sr. Wilhelmina J. Rolark THE WASHINGTON INFORMER NEWSPAPER (ISSN#0741-9414) is published weekly on each Thursday. Periodicals postage paid at Washington, D.C. and additional mailing offices. News and advertising deadline is Monday prior to publication. Announcements must be received two weeks prior to event. Copyright 2016 by The Washington Informer. All rights reserved. POSTMASTER: Send change of addresses to The Washington Informer, 3117 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave., S.E. Washington, D.C. 20032. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. The Informer Newspaper cannot guarantee the return of photographs. Subscription rates are $45 per year, two years $60. Papers will be received not more than a week after publication. Make checks payable to: THE WASHINGTON INFORMER 3117 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave., S.E Washington, D.C. 20032 Phone: 202 561-4100 Fax: 202 574-3785

PUBLISHER Denise Rolark Barnes STAFF D. Kevin McNeir, Editor Ron Burke, Advertising/ Marketing Director Shevry Lassiter, Photo Editor Lafayette Barnes, IV, Assistant Photo Editor John E. De Freitas, Sports Photo Editor Dorothy Rowley, Online Editor, Design & Layout Mable Neville, Bookkeeper Mickey Thompson, Social Sightings columnist Tatiana Moten, Social Media Specialist Angie Johnson, Circulation REPORTERS Stacy Brown (Senior Writer), Will Ford (Prince George’s County Writer), D. Kevin McNeir, Lauren Poteat, Dorothy Rowley, Sarafina Wright (General Assignment Writer), Hamil R. Harris, Patricia Wheeler PHOTOGRAPHERS John E. DeFreitas, Shevry Lassiter, Roy Lewis, Patricia Little, Travis Riddick

History, ‘Herstory,’ Our Story – And Still We Rise

By D. Kevin McNeir WI Editor

When I was a precocious little boy growing up Detroit, my parents, both educators, would take me to Motown’s only Black-owned book store, Vaughn’s Books, almost every Saturday morning. It was a time well before the invention of notepads, lap top computers, cell phones, Kindle or the Internet which as we all know now dominate the scene. If you wanted to learn something, you had to read a book. Yes, your “fingers had to do the walking.” And so, I meandered down the aisles like a veritable “Pied Piper” on a quest to understand more about who I was, from whence my ancestors had come and how Blacks had contributed in so many significant ways in the shaping of America – this so-called “land of the free and home of the brave.” Of course, I would also soon come to the knowledge 5 Washington Informer Editor D. Kevin McNeir that such a promise only extended to those with blond with his mother, Edna McNeir Baker, in their backhair, blue eyes and white skin. Their story was diametri- yard in Detroit in 1963. / Photo courtesy of D. Kevin McNeir cally different from the story of my people. As I grew older, I looked for more challenging tomes, eventually coming upon an historical piece now considered a classic in the telling of the story of Black Americans from their roots in Africa to their lives in contemporary America, “”Before the Mayflower,” written by Lerone Bennett, Jr., first published in 1962. Bennett, a student at Morehouse College and a native of Clarksdale, Mississippi, worked as a reporter for several Black newspapers, The Mississippi Enterprise and the Atlanta Daily World, before becoming the first senior editor of Ebony magazine. I recall sitting down with his book, pen and highlighter in hand, and taking a fascinating journey where I uncovered, through his amazing scholarship, the origins of the great empires of western Africa, the harrowing tale of the transatlantic journey across the ocean to slavery in the U.S., the Reconstruction, the Jim Crow era and the turbulent decades of the modern day Civil Rights Movement. But there was much more. I would meet men and women, seminal figures in the Black struggle for freedom, like Richard Allen, Prince Hall, Phillis Wheatley, John B. Russwurm, Frederick Douglass, Daisy Bates, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Joseph E. Lowery, Patricia Harris and Martin Luther King, Jr., just to name a few. Now, with the long-awaited opening of the multimillion dollar National Museum of African American History & Culture on the National Mall upon us, stirring profiles of my “heroes and sheroes,” along with artifacts, exhibits and other pieces of history will be presented utilizing today’s highly interactive technology. I can’t wait to take my two grandsons, Jordon and Jackson, to the museum where I can share my perspectives as we travel through history – our history – and gain a new insight into the sacrifices, contributions and diligence of men, women and children whose forefathers once lived in freedom on the continent of Africa – our Mother Land. But I will always have books to share so that my two “young warriors” will be able to go back and retrace that history whenever they get the urge. There’s a saying which tells us that if we don’t learn from our history, we are doomed to repeat it. More than anything else, I guess that’s why this museum means so much to me. Maybe, just maybe, as all Americans come face to face with the truth – the truth about prejudice, human subjugation, man’s inhumanity to man – and how some their lives in order to destroy the shackles that bound them, we’ll find a way to overcome firmly entrenched attitudes, beliefs and falsely-written history that have long separated Blacks and whites in these United States of America. Who could have known that we would realize such a moment as this – the opening of this amazing museum and the truths it will reveal for generations to come – from the sorrowful journey of a handful of unwitting Africans whisked away from their homes in 1619 and brought to a place where they would be ridiculed, demeaned and enslaved – a place that would ironically later welcome others who longed for freedom. This is our history – this is our song. And still “we rise.” D. Kevin McNeir • WI Editor / THE WASHINGTON INFORMER SPECIAL ISSUE – CELEBRATING THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE / SEPT 2016


John Lewis: The Birth of a Museum By Stacy M. Brown WI Senior Writer

For too long, the legacy of Black men and women who poured out their gifts in a world that denied their humanity had been left silent. However, in 2009, when the Smithsonian Institution named the architectural firm that would design the new National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in the nation’s capital, Lewis was nothing shy of ecstatic. It wasn’t long after he was elected to Congress in the 1980s that the Alabama native, who’s often called one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced, became aware of an effort first launched by African-American Civil War veterans who wanted to appropriately honor the service of Black soldiers in the war. They had petitioned Congress decades earlier to build a museum to pay tribute to veterans whose service was all but forgotten, according to Lewis who decided to seek legislation to make a new museum happen. For years, the legislative process of the idea had stopped and started until Lewis took the helm and made it a priority. In every session of Congress for 15 years, he introduced a bill authorizing the building of a national museum which would recount the contributions of Blacks to the American story. Finally, in 2003, the bill was passed by both sessions of Congress and later signed into law by President George W. Bush. “At last, the work of these awesome and talented Americans [would] find a home. And I believe that when citizens of the world see what these peo-


5 Rep. John Lewis (pictured with Museum Director Lonnie Bunch) was a driving force behind the birth of the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. / Courtesy Photo

ple have accomplished, they will be inspired and amazed,” Lewis, 76, said. “I only wish those Civil War veterans could see what their dreams, their actions and their enduring tenacity has created,” he said. Now, as the grand opening dawns with President Barack Obama presiding, and because of the tireless work done by Lewis, the new museum counts as a successful project even though it once thirsted for money, land and political support. Visitors to the $540 million building, designed to resemble a three-tiered crown, will encounter the sweeping history of Black America from the Middle Passage of slavery to the achievements and complexities of modern Black life. But, as spelled out in a recent New York Times article, also compelling is the story of how the museum itself came to be through a combination of negotiation, diplomacy, persistence and cunning political instincts.

The strategy included an approach that framed the museum as an institution for all Americans, one that depicted the Black experience, as Museum Director Lonnie Bunch often puts it, as “the quintessential American story” of measured progress and remarkable achievement after an ugly period of painful oppression. The tactics included the appointment of Republicans like Laura Bush and Colin L. Powell to the museum’s board to broaden bipartisan support beyond Democratic constituencies, and there were critical efforts to shape the thinking of essential political leaders, according to the New York Times. Long before its building was complete, for example, the museum staged exhibitions off-site, some on the fraught topics it would confront, such as Thomas Jefferson’s deep involvement with slavery. A Virginia delegation of congressional members was brought through for an early

tour of the Jefferson exhibition, which featured a statue of him in front of a semicircular wall marked with 612 names of people he had owned. “I remember being very impacted,” Eric Cantor, then the House Republican leader, who was part of the delegation, told the Times. Bunch said that he hoped the Jefferson exhibition pre-empted criticism by establishing the museum’s bold but balanced approach to difficult material. “Some people were like, ‘How dare you equate Jefferson with slavery,’” Bunch recalled. “But it means that people are going to say, ‘Of course, that is what they have to do.’” And the museum began an exceptional effort to raise money from Black donors, not only celebrities, like Michael Jordan ($5 million) and Oprah Winfrey ($21 million), but also churches, sororities and fraternities, which, Bunch said, had never been asked for big donations before. Nearly three-quarters of the gifts from individuals were

from African-Americans. An unusually high amount – $4 million – came from average people in gifts of less than $1,000. The Alfred Street Baptist Church, in Alexandria, Va., donated $1 million to the museum, while three couples who belong to the church gave individual contributions totaling an additional $4 million. “There is no doubt that we knew you couldn’t build this with African-American money alone,” Bunch said, “But we also know that there was much more money in this community than most cultural institutions had ever tapped.” Although the idea of a national African-American museum had been hatched more than a century ago, there remained staunch opposition. Some claimed that Hispanic Americans would be offended if Blacks received a museum and they didn’t. Politicians and some citizens alike railed against Lewis. Indeed, Lewis’s dream faced many challenges, but as noted in a recently-published report, he kept the faith. He didn’t give up when people said a separate museum for African Americans would lead other groups to seek their own. Congress had passed legislation in 1989 authorizing the National Museum of the American Indian, and efforts continue for Latino, women’s history and immigrant museums. Through it all, Lewis remained steadfast and, on Saturday, Sept. 24, his efforts and those of others will see the fruits of their labor. “It’s very simple – if you believe in something and you want to see it through, you have to be persistent and consistent,” Lewis said. “You never ever give up. You just keep believing,” he said. BS


New African American Museum’s Artifact Listing is a Powerful Journey Through History By Marc Morial National Urban League

5 Marc Morial,President, National Urban League. / Courtesy Photo

Published on  ( As we await the opening of the Smithsonian Institute’s  National Museum of African American History and Culture  on September 24, much of the focus has been on the century-long journey to make the museum a reality. But I found myself struck by a listing of the actual artifacts acquired by the museum, and how they alone are a powerful represent the African-American journey through history: • A linen and silk shawl given to Harriet Tubman by Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom

• The dress Rosa Parks was sewing when she refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955 • A trumpet owned by Louis Armstrong • Headgear worn by a boxer then known as Cassius Clay, later to be known as Muhammad Ali • A bible owned by Nat Turner, who led an unsuccessful slave revolt in Virginia in 1831 • The glass-topped casket originally used to display and bury the body of 14-year-old Emmett Till, tortured and murdered for speaking to a white woman in Mississippi in 1955 Along with the personal possessions of famous Black Americans, the museum will display iconic public representations of the nation’s history of oppression such as “white only” and “colored only”

signs from the Jim Crow-era South, and a guard tower and cell from “Angola”, the cruel, violence-prone, and squalid Louisiana prison where African-Americans were exploited and abused for much of the 20th Century.

While I look forward to the museum’s exhibits putting such objects into context and amplifying their meaning, sometimes it is sheer simplicity that can put history into stark perspective. BS

While I look forward to the museum’s exhibits putting such objects into context and amplifying their meaning, sometimes it is sheer simplicity that can put history into stark perspective.

Greater Washington Urban League Congratulates the National Museum of African American History & Culture on its Grand Opening

For the past 78 years, the Greater Washington Urban League has stood on society’s front-lines, as well as in the trenches serving as a safety net and facilitator for District of Columbia Metro residents, whether in advocacy, housing, employment, emergency assistance, entrepreneurship or education. We continue to carve a distinctive path towards justice and fair play putting families first, catering to the needs of children and the elderly, 8 to 80. Image Provided by The National Museum of African American History & Culture





Music Accents Opening of African-American Museum Historic Shiloh Baptist Tells Story of Survival through Song

By Hamil R. Harris WI Contributing Writer

Special events accenting the opening of the National Museum of African American History have already begun including a concert that told the story of generations who have overcome “toils and snares” in their quest for freedom and equality. Thomas Dixon Tyler, Minister of Worship at the Shiloh Baptist Church in Northwest shared his goals for the concert, held last Sunday, Sept. 17. “This is a celebratory odyssey of artistic expressions that emboldens what the museum represents,” said Tyler, who directed the eclectic musical experience entitled “A Historic Odyssey: From the Cradle to Liberation.” Chuck Hicks, a member of the DC Host Committee, the group of volunteers responsible for planning events to coincide with the

museum opening on Saturday, Sept. 24, described the opening as the biggest event for African Americans since the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. “It is something we, our ancestors, our elders, all of us, young and old, have wanted all of our lives: to be able to tell our story in America,” said Hicks, who served as co-chair of the event along with former DC Councilmember Frank Smith, founder and executive director of the African American Civil War Museum. The concert, sponsored by the Host Committee, was divided into three parts, featuring music from African-American composers, griots and traditional African stilt walkers with songs sung in centuries-old African languages and a sample of selections that have become standards in the gospel music songbook. The concert finale showcased the choir leading the audience in

5 The D.C. community enjoyed a musical excursion through the pages of Black history during a concert at Shiloh Baptist Church in Northwest on Sunday, Sept. 18 that kicked off events highlighting the opening of the new National Museum of African American History & Culture. / Photo by Roy Lewis

the celebrated arrangement by Dr. Roland M. Carter of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” which Carter also directed. In 1900, 500 school children first performed “Lift Every Voice

and Sing,” written by James Weldon Johnson, as a poem honoring the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln. Johnson’s brother, John, would compose the music five years later.

In 1919, the NAACP dubbed the song “the Negro National Anthem” because of its “power in voicing the cry for liberation and affirmation for African-American people.” BS

Opening Ceremony Live on C-SPAN

National Museum of African American History and Culture Saturday, September 24th starting at 10 am ET Speakers include President Obama and founding museum director Lonnie Bunch. Watch live on C-SPAN. Listen on C-SPAN Radio. Get video on demand at

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9/14/16 1:36 PM

Remembering: A Legacy of Looking Back And Paying It Forward

By Stacy M. Brown WI Senior Writer

From the powerful exhibition of slave cabins, Nat Turner’s Bible and an airplane used to train Tuskegee airmen, the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture forces one to take a look back at America’s darkest past; it’s most ugly moments. Eleven inaugural exhibitions feature some 34,000 artifacts, including a railroad passenger car that dates to the Jim Crow era, a shawl worn by Harriet Tubman and a traveling trunk that belonged to the family of the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. Looking back, of course, cannot be done without paying homage to Civil Rights champion Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. One exhibit traces the trajectory of King’s career, from his rise to prominence as the leader of the national Civil Rights Movement to his work as an anti-war activist and advocate for those living in poverty through historic photographs, prints, paintings and memorabilia. The $540 million building that will house the new museum and

the many exhibits and artifacts contained inside will, as Smithsonian officials said, 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 in the shaping of this nation. It’ll be a place that transcends the boundaries of race and culture that divide us, and becomes a lens into a story that unites us all. And, to pay it forward and to make sure that all of this has become a reality are historically-Black organizations like the fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc. a founding donor who immediately poured $1 million into the efforts. “Many who have donated to the museum have done so with ultimate trust,” Museum Director Lonnie Bunch said in an earlier interview. But the Alphas’ contributions to the museum didn’t end with a monetary donation. An oil painting of Julian Herman Lewis, a charter member of the Xi Lambda Graduate chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha which was installed on May 15, 1924, will also be among the artifacts on display.

“What we will have in the museum is a place for dialogue and the exploration of historical movements. We can facilitate a discussion of what reparations really mean, providing a key to the debate.” Lonnie Bunch, Museum Director

Lewis, whose parents were born into slavery but later became educators, came to be known as the “Father of Anthropathology.” He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1911 from the University of Illinois. A year later, he earned a master’s degree and entered the University of Chicago where he earned a Ph.D. in physiology and pathology, graduating magna cum laude. Reportedly, Lewis was the first African American to earn both a medical degree and a doctorate and, in 1913, he became the first Black to be inducted into Sigma Xi, the scientific honorary, and the first African American to be a member of Alpha Omega Alpha, a medical fraternity. “What we will have in the museum is a place for dialogue and the exploration of historical movements. We can facilitate a discussion of what reparations really mean, providing a key to the debate,” Bunch has said. The museum’s exhibitions will show how segregation – a direct outgrowth of enslavement – and its shadows, shaped the country for so long and how African Americans were treated, both legally and informally. For example, one of the museum’s key artifacts, the guard tower from Louisiana’s Angola prison, will show how the prison systems were repurposed plantations and populated by Black men exploited as free labor through convict leases. “That is why the moral debt is what most concerns me. Blacks helped force America to live up to its stated ideals,” Bunch wrote in a column for The Smithsonian. “This nation’s sense of citizenship, its notion of liberty, its understanding of justice for all owes a debt to the African American; these are the people who believed in the promise of America, and who, by their struggles, helped make that promise more accessi-

5 Julian H. Lewis, pictured here in 1917 in his graduation gown, was the first African American to teach at the University of Chicago. He joined the University of Chicago faculty after finishing his MD at Rush Medical College. / Courtesy Photo

ble to all,” he said. How does a nation repay its moral debt? The greatest repayment would be to ensure that African Americans now and generations from now, have access to quality education, affordable health care and neighborhoods that are safe. That would make all those who once suffered smile, because they didn’t suffer in vain, Bunch said. Today, it’s all about paying it forward, particularly after taking the long look back. “So, we open with people from the beginning that this is a story of humanity and we see how this history flows and I tell everyone the harsh story of slavery but the very important understanding of resistance and resilience and survival,” said museum specialist and curator Mary Elliott.

“There is a wall dedicated to the domestic slave trade, the middle passage, but when you see the extent of the information and the way it will be presented, it will blow people away,” she said. The museum also doesn’t ignore the struggle faced by many African Americans today, particularly the recent rash of police shootings and violence with individuals of color. “We don’t hold back on violence during the period of slavery and people will see how this ebbs and flows and that this violence [today] is nothing new and to understand it in a historical concept to wrestle with how to end it and to also understand that African Americans are human and African Americans are Americans who have contributed to the development of this nation,” Elliott said. BS / THE WASHINGTON INFORMER SPECIAL ISSUE – CELEBRATING THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE / SEPT 2016


“The African American experience is the lens through which we understand what it is to be an American.” —Lonnie G. Bunch III, Founding Director, NMAAHC

As a Founding Donor of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Bank of America is proud to sponsor its grand opening and is committed to the vision of a more diverse and inclusive America. Learn more at Dedication: September 24

© 2016 Bank of America Corporation. ARFWM9QT




POWERFUL HERITAGE. We are proud to celebrate the grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture and invite all to join us in exploring the rich and powerful history of the African American experience. © Pepco, 2016 / THE WASHINGTON INFORMER SPECIAL ISSUE – CELEBRATING THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE / SEPT 2016


At Exelon, we embrace our differences. Diverse perspectives enable us to adapt, enhance and innovate. At Exelon, we leverage the power of diversity as we work together to drive progress for our customers. Exelon proudly supports the Museum of African American History and Culture.

© Exelon Corporation 2016



DC Host Events In The DC, MD VA Area Events by Date September 17

Book signing: “The Threads of Time, The Fabrics of History: Profiles of African American Dressmakers and Designers from 1850 to the Present” (2007), Author, Rosemary E. Miller. Saturday, September 17 from 2-6pm at Zawadi Arts-Contemporary and Traditional African Arts Shop, 1524 U Street, NW. Contacts: 202-232-2214;

September 18

Concert: “A Historical Odyssey from the Cradle to Liberation”, features a 200 voice community choir singing chants, slave songs and spirituals. Sunday, September 18, 5pm at Shiloh Baptist Church, 1500 Ninth Street, NW. Contacts: 202-232-4288; http://www.; Reception: New Door Creative presents “Occupational Hazards” with Artist Aziza Claudia Gibson-Hunter. Sunday, September 18, 3-6pm at 1601 Saint Paul Street, Baltimore, MD. Contacts: 410-244-8244; The Black Love Unity and Vision (L.U.V) Festival: A Tribute to Black Lives Matters, showcasing independent and nationally recognized musicians, poets, community/activist speakers and a live mural painting by a local community arts organization. September 18, 11am-7pm at St. Elizabeth’s East Gateway DC Pavilion, 2700 Martin Luther King Junior Avenue, SE. Contacts: George Kerr III; 202-387-7339; http://www.blackluvfest. com;

September 20

Concert & Conversation: Jazz Alive- Allyn Johnson & Meet the Artist on the Bandstand. Favorite pianist and UDC Jazz Studies Director Allyn Johnson presents an up close and personal session of conversation and performance featuring trumpeter, composer/ arranger and band leader Thad Wilson. Tuesday, September 20 12:30pm at UDC Recital Hall- Van Ness Campus (Performing Arts Building 46-West) 4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW

Watch Party/Exhibit including Champagne Breakfast, hot catered meal and mimosas. Serengeti Gallery, Park Central 7919 Central Avenue, Capital Heights, MD. Saturday, September 24, 9am -12noon. Cost: $25. Contact: 301-808-6987; serengetigallery@ Watch Party/ Reception and Exhibits, includes complimentary mimosas and tour of restored Rosenwald School. Saturday, September 24 from 10am-1pm at the Prince George’s African American Museum & Culture Center, 4519 Rhode Island Avenue, North Brentwood, MD 301-809-0440, ext:102; Watch Party/Movie Screening: “Proud” The story of the USS Mason, the historic World War II battleship with an entirely segregated black crew. September 24, Watch Party10am; Movie Screening- 12:30pm, 2:30pm and 4:30pm at United States Navy Memorial Park, Pennsylvania Avenue between 7and 9th Streets NW Contact: 202-380-0723. 15th Annual DC Jazz Preservation Festival saluting America’s jazz heritage. Saturday, September 24, 12noon-dusk at Westminster Church, 400 I Street, SW. Contact: 202-484-7700; Jazz “The Steve Washington Quartet Performance”. Sunday, September 24 6-9pm at Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society, 2813 12th Street, NE $10 Contact: Concert: Art All Night- Made in DC: Van Ness Main Street, featuring saxophonist Jordan Dixon. Saturday, Sept 24, 7pm at ACACIA Bistro, 4340 Connecticut Avenue at Yuma St., NW. Contacts: 202-537-1040

September 25

Festival of the Arts at African American Civil War Museum (AACW) Welcoming Reception, Thursday, September 22, 6-8pm 1925 Vermont Avenue, NW. Contact: 202-6672667;

Sunday Service Jazz with Bobby Felder and the Capitol All-Stars Big Band Jazz Ensemble Sunday, September 25, 11am, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 400 I Street SW • Contact: 202-484-7700; Concert: “Singing Our Song”, a concert of hymns and traditional gospel music written by great gospel and hymn composers such as Charles Tindley, Thomas Dorsey, Lucy Campbell and many others. Sunday, September 25, 3pm at Vermont Avenue Baptist Church, 1630 Vermont Avenue, NW. Contact: 202-667-1078 Drum Circle: Drumming for the Spirit: Remembering and Celebrating our Ancestors, Elders and Youth. Sunday, September 25, 4:30pm at Malcolm X (Meridian) Park, 16th Street between Euclid and W Streets. Contact: Damian Bascom 301-343-7915. Gallery: A Musical Odyssey: From Africa to the Americas, featuring live music from diverse genres: blues, gospel, ragtime, R&B, hip-hop and rap. Sunday September 25, 3:30-5pm; 5:30-7pm at Serengeti Gallery, Park Central 7919 Central Avenue, Capital Heights, MD. Cost $5 Contact: Concert: “Shirletta Settles Sings”. Sunday, September 25 6-9pm at Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society, 2813 12th Street NE, $5 Contact:

September 23

September 26

September 21

Reception: “Stand Up! for DC Democracy in DC Coalition”, Statehood Party Reception. Wednesday, September 21, 6-8pm at the John Wilson Building, 1350Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. Contact: Reception: LGBTQ Community Reception for the LGBTQ/SGL community and Allies. September 21, 7pm at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Building, 1640 Rhode Island Avenue, NW Contact: 202 628-4160;

September 22

Concert: “A Tribute to Black Classical Composers”, highlighting organ and vocal compositions. Friday, September 23, 7pm at National City Christian Church, 5 Thomas Circle NW. Contact: 202-232-0323; “Jazz Night” presents The Wilson Big Band: A Tribute to John Coltrane at Westminster Church, Friday, September 23, 6-9pm General Admission $5 Contact: 202-484-7700;

September 24

Festival of the Arts at African American Civil War Museums (AACW), 1925 Vermont Avenue, NW. Contact: 202-667-2667; Watch Party 10-12noon (Museum) • Descendants Presentation, 1-2pm (Museum) *“Battle Hymn of a Freedman”, a play by Clarence Anthony Bush, descendent of a member of the 2nd Regiment US Colored Troop that tells the story of the 1864 Fort Pillow Massacre in Tennessee, 2-3:30pm; 4:30-6pm • Live music 3:30-4:30pm; 6-8pm (Memorial) • Malcolm X Drummers & Dancers 12:30-1:30 (Memorial) • Free shuttle service from AACW to Mall, 12noon-8pm. The Ideal Watchfest, Watch Party and Marketplace, at Academy for Ideal Education, 4501 Dix Street, NE, Saturday, September 24. Contact: 202-361-0501; *Poetry, African Drum and Dance, African Market Place w/exhibitors -Above activities from 10am-2pm • Intergenerational Dance Party: Music and dancing from Boogie Woogie to Beyonce Era 5pm-9pm Watch Party/Exhibit: 1960 Mississippi Photo Exhibit and Students for Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Exhibit at Church of Scientology, 1424 16th Street, NW Saturday, September 24, at 9am-2pm. Contact: 202-797-9826

Concert: “Blue Monday Blues” presents Nadine Ray and the All Stars. Monday, September 26, 9pm at Westminster Church, General Admission $5 Contact: 202-484-7700;

September 27

Panel Discussion: “Band Books”- Join Deb Heard, Executive Director of the Hurston/ Wright Foundation and a former Editor of the Washington Post Style page, and Dana Williams, Professor of African American Literature and Chair of the English Department at Howard University for a discussion about diversity, censorship, and how to support the authors who need it the most. Busboys and Poets, 14th & V NW, 6:30 pm.

September 28

Jazz Forum: Bill Doggett II presents “Celebrating 100 years of Bill Doggett: Jazz Organ Pioneer “1916-2016”. Wednesday, September 28, 7pm at UDC Recital Hall- Van Ness Campus (Performing Arts Building 46-West) 4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW

September 29

Book-signing: “The Underground Railroad” (2016). Colson Whitehead’s recent novel is the latest Oprah’s Book Club pick, Author Colson Whitehead. Thursday, September 29 at 8pm at Politics and Prose Book Store, 5015 Connecticut Ave NW. Contacts: 202364-1919

October 2

Gallery Talk: New Door Creative presents “Occupational Hazards” with Artist Aziza Claudia Gibson-Hunter. Sunday, October 2, 3-6pm at 1601 Saint Paul Street, Baltimore, MD. Contacts: 410-244-8244;

On-going Exhibit: The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA)  presents “OUR FRONT PAGE”, an exhibit of front pages taken from more than 211 African American-owned newspapers that are members of the NNPA. These front pages, published in newspapers across 33 states, memorialize “2016” headline news from a Black perspective. #Black Press Matters – Visit the Thurgood Marshall Center, 1812 Twelfth Street, September 21, 2016 – March 30, 2017. For specific viewing dates, times and special programs visit www. or Exhibit: Works by Robert Freeman and Hubert Jackson - Zenith Gallery est. 1978Celebrating 38 Years in the Nation’s Capital,1429 Iris Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20012, Exhibit: “The Journey to be Free: Self –emancipation and Alexandria’s Contraband Heritage”. Running from August 30-September 30 at Alexandria’s Black History Museum, 902 Wythe Street, Alexandria, VA , 10am-4pm. Contact:

Places of Interest:

Charles Sumner School, 17 M Streets, constructed in 1872 was one of the first public schools erected for the District’s black community. It now houses a museum and archive for DC public school records and artifacts. Contact: Open to the public Monday-Friday 10am-5pm Contact: 202- 730-0478 or National Council of Negro Women, Inc. Headquarters is located at 633 Pennsylvania Avenue. NW. The building was purchased during the 40 year presidency (1957-1997) of Dorothy Heights in 1995. Contact: 202-7370120 or email- membership@ncnw. org The Mary McLeod Bethune Council House a unit of the National Park Service, 1318Vermont Ave, NW- open seven day a week from 9 am to 5 pm. The home serves as the second national headquarters for the National Headquarters for Negro Women. Today it is home to the Bethune Museum and Archives, the only archives devoted to Black Women’s history in the United States. Contact: (202) 673-2402; The Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, 1901 Fort Place SE, open daily 10am- 5pm. Current exhibitTwelve Years, that Shook and Shaped Washington: 1963-1975 (focus on events, people and challenges that transformed the city between 1963 and 1975) Contact: 202.633-4820; / THE WASHINGTON INFORMER SPECIAL ISSUE – CELEBRATING THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE / SEPT 2016


+ Sunday 1pm | VIP Champagne Brunch (tickets required)



BOOK REVIEW “Dream a World Anew” By the National Museum of African American History & Culture c.2016, Smithsonian Books $40.00 / $47.00 Canada 288 pages

When a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words By Terri Schlichenmeyer WI Contributing Writer There’s so much you wish you’d kept. Of course, you never thought of that when things were thrown out: your grandmother’s favorite skirt, a poster your uncle hung on his wall, an autographed picture of a minor star from the 1920s. You’d cherish them today, but they’re gone forever –

or are they? In “Dream a World Anew” by the National Museum of African American History & Culture, you’ll find those kinds of things – and more. The new Smithsonian NMAAHC exhibits begin with a view of slavery in the U.S. The enslavement of humans has a long history and it was even practiced in Africa. This time, however – beginning with Portuguese slave ships in about 1440 – it would lead to the largest forced migration of humans, ever: more than 12 million “Africans of enormous cultural diversity” were shackled, marched across the African continent and transported across the Atlantic Ocean. The numbers were so high that, just three-and-a-half centuries after it began, “Black people formed 20 percent of the population of the new United States.” Those new citizens fought on behalf of America in the Revolutionary War and, because of the “chaos of war,” were often freed after service. Slaves, in fact, often found it easier to demand release then, as the “First Emancipation” but it didn’t last long; by the early 1800s, the plantation system ensured that slavery continued. Freed at the end of the Civil War, black citizens formed schools, started businesses, created products, and founded small towns, despite the onus of Southern sharecropping. Many migrated north, where discrimination still existed but Jim Crow laws weren’t quite as burdensome as they were in the South and lynchings weren’t nearly as common. They fought the same battles alongside whites (or in racially-divided military companies) in other wars, then they came home to more discrimination – which ultimately, in part, led to a national fight for civil rights. And through the centuries, African Americans left a trail of culture: songs from Africa; unique dance “styles and techniques;” minstrelsy and vaudeville acts; music, literature, art, and poetry. I must admit, at first, I was a little disappointed in “Dream a World Anew.” What’s inside – the narrative – seemed like everything I’d heard before. So I flipped the book over and started paging through it again. While it’s true that familiar names are everywhere in this book –Wheatley, Turner, Douglass, Truth, Tubman – readers will also be absolutely treated to stories and mini-biographies from regular people throughout history. The familiar names are rightfully here, but it’s those everyday tales that I couldn’t get enough of. And then there are the items you’ll see here and in the Smithsonian NMAAHC: a skirt worn by a donor’s enslaved grandmother. Handbills, photographs, pottery, and medals, ship logs and shoes, quilts and posters and bric-a-brac that all tell a story. No more disappointment. I loved this book, and I think you will, too. If you enjoy history or if you’re planning a visit to our Nation’s capital, “Dream a World Anew” is a souvenir you’ll want kept. BS

Thurgood Marshall Center Trust, Inc.

The Thurgood Marshall Center Trust, Inc. Congratulates The National Museum of African American History & Culture on the Grand Opening of the Historic Museum Our mission is to educate, encourage and empower children, youth, seniors, immigrants, the disabled and the LGBT communities to pursue equality, social and economic justice through provocative dialogue and collective action. We believe this can be accomplished by facilitating collaborative efforts; cultivating meaningful relationships with community and faith-based partners, government leadership and agencies, business, and the community-at-large; and providing educational programs that will help participants celebrate the richness of their diversities and cultural history and meet the challenges in their lives.

Image Provided by The National Museum of African American History & Culture

Please come and visit our Regal Historic Landmark Building and witness the History of the First African American YMCA in the Country. Space Rental is available for any special occasion. We look forward to seeing you witness history at the Thurgood Marshall Center for Service and Heritage. For more information on Thurgood Marshall Center Trust, Inc. or Thurgood Marshall Center for Service and Heritage please visit our web site at In 2000 TMCT, Inc. completed renovations of its national historic landmark building known as the Thurgood Marshall Center for Service and Heritage. The center serves as a co-location for nine 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations that serve children, youth and families in the Shaw/Logan/Columbia Heights community and the greater District of Columbia.

“Cornerstone of the Community for the Next 100 Years”






Rising to the Challenge

How the King Memorial Found a Home on the National Mall By D. Kevin McNeir WI Editor When our nation’s first Black president, Barack Obama, officially opens the doors to the National Museum of African American History and Culture [NMAAHC] – the latest addition to the National Mall – on Saturday, Sept. 24, it will serve as the culmination of “10 years in the making and 100 years in the making,” says the museum’s director, Lonnie G. Bunch III. Its narrative, from moments of sweeping uplift and achievement, horrifically framed and punctuated by the wickedness of institutional terrorism, the “peculiar institution” of chattel slavery, will highlight the story of African Americans while seeking to address the question “what is real freedom?” But before this bronze-colored edifice came into being, the National Mall welcomed the first institution honoring a Black man and by extension Black history, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the form of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Both the King Memorial and the NMAAHC share several commonalities – challenges of epic proportion that were unknown, never encountered and presumably unheard of by the developers of previously constructed historic landmarks on the Mall. Those visionaries and subsequent leaders of the two Black-themed institutions had to secure millions and millions of dollars, public and private funds, donated by corporations and individuals, before matching dollars would be granted on the approval of members of Congress. These and other monumental hurdles were recently shared by the Houston-based attorney who years ago assumed the arduous task as the primary fundraiser for the King Memorial and who has since served as the president and CEO of The Memorial Foundation, Inc., the nonprofit financial engine that continues to support the King Memorial. “The King Memorial was a project started by members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. – I was one of the fraternity’s national presidents at the time. We had the land and the design but we had to go find the money. It was certainly not a one-man job.

/ Photo courtesy of

Actually, the concept had been in place well over 25 years. We had a monumental task before us. And many people, some who the public may never know, emptied their pockets and stepped up to lend a hand in a myriad of ways,” said Harry E. Johnson, Sr., 61, who, by all accounts and according to numerous public testimonies, has remained the driving force behind and chief cheerleader for the King Memorial. He said navigating the various levels of approval for the National Mall institution came as both a challenge and an eye-opening experience. “There are several jurisdiction commissions with which you must contend in D.C. and for me and for Lonnie [Bunch], whether it was raising $127 million or $1/2 billion, respectively, the hurdles we had to overcome were mind-boggling,” Johnson said. “Every time we thought we had moved forward in our fundraising efforts, we were confronted with another dynamic. For those involved with the King Memorial, it would be 9/11, then the tsunami, then Hurricane Katrina. In other words, we had to compete against disasters time and time again while at-

“With the new museum, we now have two Black ‘faces’ on the National Mall. That’s certainly reason to celebrate but as I remind people, convincing folks that Dr. King should be on the Mall took a lot of time and patience – a lot of sweat and even tears.” Harry E. Johnson, Sr.,

tempting to convince people that donating to our cause was something worthwhile,” said Johnson whose work on the project goes back well over a decade.

“With the new museum, we now have two Black ‘faces’ on the National Mall. That’s certainly reason to celebrate but as I remind people, convincing folks that Dr. King should be on the Mall took a lot of time and patience – a lot of sweat and even tears,” he added. And on a beautiful late summer afternoon, Johnson welcomed some of the Memorial’s key financial sponsors including several members of Congress, Black and white, to the 9th Annual Leaders of Democracy Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, Sept. 14 on the grounds of the King Memorial in Northwest. During the luncheon, which took place on the eve of the opening of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc.’s 46th Annual Legislative Conference, Johnson once again shared his gratitude to his board members, fraternity brothers, primary financial contributors, friends and family – all of whom he said have been essential to making the King Memorial a reality and helping it remain, as the mission statement of The Memorial Foundation indicates, “to keep the spirit and work of Dr. King’s living memorial relevant by leveraging [its] role as a beacon of

inspiration . . . creating events that enlighten [and] educational programs that train people to work toward democracy, justice, hope and love.” Awards were presented to three members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congresspersons Charles Rangel, Robin Kelly and Bobby Scott, along with Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski. In different yet significant ways, each elected official used their influence and well-earned respect by others to ensure that the King Memorial would be built and maintain its stated mission. Other guests at the luncheon included the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. who emphasized the importance of recognizing the millions of Black spirits whose collective efforts have been essential to there now being two institutions on the National Mall that honor the African-American tradition and community. “As we honor the contributions of those too many to mention, we must also remember that our country will soon have an opportunity to cast our vote for the next president of the United States. We must make sure we vote and that we take others to the polls with us. We’re celebrating today but we can ill-afford to rest on our laurels,” Jackson said. As for his personal feelings, Johnson said he believes that his friend and colleague Lonnie Bunch has to be enjoying the same kind of euphoria that he first experienced when the King Memorial was completed as the NMAAHC welcomes the first of millions of visitors into its doors. “Both the King Memorial and the National Museum of African American History and Culture will serve as great additions to fulfilling a legacy and history of our people,” Johnson said. “People can finally see the role that Blacks have played in the U.S. and the significance of Blacks’ participation in making this country what it is today.” “Both stand as symbols of our service and sacrifices. Both have been dedicated by the same president – the first Black president of the United States. No one will ever be able to deny that when we consider these two major projects and additions to the National Mall,” Johnson said with humility and pride. BS / THE WASHINGTON INFORMER SPECIAL ISSUE – CELEBRATING THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE / SEPT 2016



Monumental. Comcast is proud to salute the opening of the National Museum of African American History & Culture. This museum is a symbol of who we were, who we are and represents how great we all can be. It is more than just a collection of African-American history, it is American history and its opening is a crowning glory for our nation.

Photog Ph Pho tog o rap raph ra h by by Alan A an a Ka arch ch chmer hmer me e /NM NMAAH NM AAH A C AH







FILE NAME: CMCCO16090_m01v01_9.5x12.375_MuseumAd.indd

DC Host Committee Prepares for Museum Opening By Pat Wheeler WI Contributing Writer Thousands of visitors from across the country are expected to descend upon Washington, D.C. for the opening of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Cul-

ture. The opening of this museum has long been anticipated ever since Georgian Congressman John Lewis in 1986 proposed the idea for a museum on the mall dedicated to the contributions and achievements of African Americans. The museum’s dedication will take place on Saturday, Sept. 24

starting at 9 a.m., but District celebrations began a week earlier than the grand opening. The DC Host Committee in Celebration of the NMAAHC Dedication and Opening will host dozens of events for D.C. residents and visitors, many who will be unable to see the interior of the museum for at least several

weeks due to the high demand for the free but ticketed passes. The host committee is comprised of dozens of individuals representing community organizations, church groups and representatives from the District, Maryland and Virginia governments. “We want persons visiting Washington, D.C. to not only see the NMAAHC but to see a city that is rich with history and culture. We want them to see some of our wonderful landmarks – places like the African American Civil War Memorial, the Howard Theater, the historic Metropolitan A.M.E. Church and the statues of Mary McCleod Bethune and Carter G. Woodson,” said Charles “Chuck” Hicks, co-chair, DC Host Committee. Hicks shares co-chair duties with Frank Smith, director, African American Civil War Museum, a former DC Councilmember and civil rights activist. Both have spent long hours pulling together a schedule of events and activities that include concerts, movie screenings, receptions, exhibits, festivals, and even a drumming circle. Most of the events are free or have a minimal admission charge. Hicks is also encouraging people who cannot attend the Museum’s opening and dedication ceremony on September 24 to hold Watch Parties with their friends and family. The Museum is also encouraging Watch Parties since the number of people who can attend the opening is limited and security will be especially tight due to the appearance of President Barack Obama who is scheduled to speak. For those wishing to celebrate with a larger crowd, a number of churches are holding Watch Parties. (A list of churches holding these parties is listed below.) According to Kinshasha Holman Conwill, deputy director, NMAAHC, who spoke to the Host Committee earlier this month, more than 7,000 people are expected to attend the dedication which will also feature speakers Chief Justice John Roberts, who serves as the Chancellor of the Smithsonian and is an ex-officio member of the Board of Regents; Congressman John Lewis; former President George and First Lady Laura Bush; and a host of other dignitaries. The program will also include a wide variety of musical entertainment. Conwill says that they are working to have church bells ring out in every ward of the city. For persons who do not have one of the reserved

seats, jumbotrons will be set up on 15th Street near the Museum. Also on 15th Street will be a three-day festival (Sept. 23-25) featuring music performances, storytelling, interactive workshops and food vendors featuring African-American cuisine from various U.S. regions. She encouraged people to keep checking the NMAAHC website for additional information about the events. ( Conwill, who came to the NMAAHC from New York City where she worked as an arts and culture consultant and prior to that, Studio Museum director, told the Host Committee, “This Museum tells the story of African Americans in a comprehensive but not in an encyclopedic way.” She credited NMAAHC Founding Director Lonnie G. Bunch, III for having the vision to make this dream a reality. The DC Host Committee’s celebrations kicks off on Sunday, Sept. 18, at 5 p.m. at Shiloh Baptist Church with a special music performance, “A Historical Odyssey: From the Cradle to Liberation.” The concert will feature a 200-voice community choir with the Shiloh choir as the nucleus. Shiloh’s Artistic Director Dr. Thomas Dixon Tyler said, “We will look at the contributions of the African-American people through our music. We will take the audience through a musical journey, starting with African chants, work songs and spirituals.” Other churches hosting concerts are National Christian Church, 5 Thomas Circle, Northwest on Friday, Sept. 23 (A Tribute to Black Classical Composers) and Vermont Avenue Baptist Church, (Singing Our Song) 1630 Vermont Ave., Northwest on Sunday, Sept. 25. One of the events that Hicks is especially proud of is the “Drumming for the Spirit: Remembering and Celebrating our Ancestors, Elders and Youth.” More than 100 drummers will converge on Malcolm X Park on Sunday, Sept. 25, 4:30 p.m. to form a drumming circle that will undoubtedly be heard across the city. Courtney Williams, director of outreach for the DC Host Committee, said more volunteers are needed to distribute brochures about the week of activities and events, to answer questions about places to go in the District and to direct people to appropriate venues. Persons wishing to volunteer should sign up at the DC Host Committee website, BS / THE WASHINGTON INFORMER SPECIAL ISSUE – CELEBRATING THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE / SEPT 2016


At Volkswagen Group of America we believe that diversity is a source of strength for our business, our community, and our world. We are proud to celebrate the opening of Museum of African American History and Culture and the rich legacy of the African American experience.



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9/2/2016 1:36:53 PM

Groundbreaking for the National Museum of African American History and Culture From the newsroom of The Smithsonian- The Smithsonian broke ground for its 19th museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 10 a.m. in an invitation-only ceremony on the National Mall. President Barack Obama spoke at the ceremony. Other honored guests included First Lady Michelle Obama, former First Lady Laura Bush, Rep. John Lewis (DGa.) and Gov. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.). The ceremony took place on the museum’s five-acre site adjacent to the Washington Monument at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W. “I think about my daughters and I think about your children, the millions of visitors who will stand where we stand long after we’re gone,” said President Obama. “And I want them to appreciate this museum not just as a record of tragedy, but as a celebration of life. When future generations hear these songs of pain and progress and struggle and sacrifice, I hope they will not think of them as somehow separate from the larger American story. I want them to see it as central—an important part of our shared story.” “With this groundbreaking we move closer toward creating a museum to make manifest the dreams of many generations,” said Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of the museum. “The structure about to rise on the National Mall will be a signature building, and the museum it houses will give us a way to ensure that America understands the African American experience as a history that has shaped us all.” The National Museum of African American History and Culture was created in 2003 by an Act of Congress, establishing it as part of the Smithsonian Institution. The museum will be the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted exclusively to showcasing African American life, art, history and culture. BS

5 Lonnie Bunch, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, speaks at the museum’s groundbreaking ceremony on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 22, 2012, flanked by Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough, First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama. / Photo Credit: John Gibbons,

5 Smithsonian senior staff and members of the National Museum of African American History and Culture Council break ground for the new museum in a ceremony held Feb. 22, 2012. From left to right: Richard Parsons, co-chair, museum council; Patty Stonesifer, Smithsonian Board of Regents member and former chair; Laura Bush, former First Lady and museum council member; Wayne Clough, Secretary, Smithsonian Institution; Lonnie Bunch, director, National Museum of African American History and Culture; Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture, Smithsonian; France Córdova, chair, Smithsonian Board of Regents; and Linda Johnson Rice, co-chair, museum council. / Photo Credit: Michael Barnes, Smithsonianw / THE WASHINGTON INFORMER SPECIAL ISSUE – CELEBRATING THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE / SEPT 2016


Photo by: Alan Karchmer



Chronology of Events

National Museum of African American History and Culture Dec. 16, 2003

President George W. Bush signs the legislation creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC)

October 2004

Founding 19-member NMAAHC Council appointed by the Smithsonian Board of Regents

March 14, 2005

Lonnie G. Bunch named founding director of NMAAHC

Jan. 30, 2006

Selection of the five-acre museum site on the National Mall near the Washington Monument

Oct. 1, 2007

Selection of Freelon Bond, pre-design and architectural programming consultants

Jan. 19, 2008

NMAAHC launches first “Save our African American Treasures” program in Chicago

Oct. 27, 2008

Pre-design: Master facilities programming

November 2008

Completion of the master exhibition planning, facilities planning and programming report

January 2009

Opening of NMAAHC Gallery at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

February 2009

Architectural design competition begins

April, 2009

Freelon Adjaye Bond/ SmithGroup selected as the architectural team for the museum

July 12, 2011

Construction firm, Clark/ Smoot/Russell begins planning for the construction of the building

Feb. 22, 2012

Groundbreaking November 2012—First concrete pour

November 2013

September 2015

Cranes install the first iconic artifacts, a Jim Crow-era railroad car and Louisiana State Penitentiary (Angola) prison guard tower, into the museum

Corona and building enclosure is complete, except doors

October 2014

Projection Mapping Event: Celebrated countdown to museum’s grand opening and commemorated anniversaries of 13th amendment, Voting Rights Act and Civil War’s end

Steel topping out; last steel member lifted for structural framing

January 2015

Above-grade steel-and-concrete superstructure is complete to the roof level; glass installation begins on fifth floor

November 2015

Sept. 24, 2016 Grand opening

April 2015

Glass enclosure complete; the first of 3,600 bronze-colored “Corona” panels installed / THE WASHINGTON INFORMER SPECIAL ISSUE – CELEBRATING THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE / SEPT 2016


About the National Newspapers Publishers Association

“The Black Press in AMericA is more relevant than ever” NNPA is a trade association representing the Black Press with 209 African American-owned member newspapers in 33 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Since its inception, over three quarters of a century, the NNPA publishers have provided excellent reporting from the Black perspective. We Pledge to Mobilize the Largest Black American Voter Turnout in History in November 2016!

#BlackPressMatters nnPA salutes the opening of the national Museum of African American history and culture




By Sarafina Wright, WI Staff Writer


Johns Island, South Carolina I am looking forward to seeing what African Americans have contributed. I want the young people to see their history. My father, Esau Jenkins did voter registration here in South Carolina and the van he used will be in the National Museum of African American History and Culture. We are leaving Friday because they are doing a pre-show for all the donors and contributors. As his daughter it makes me really proud – my only regret is that he is not alive to see it. When he was alive we had a hard time; they called him a Communist and all of my siblings had to go away and I couldn’t get a job in Charleston County for 10 years. Still, I am proud that now others will see what he did on behalf of our people.

What are you most excited to see/explore at the National Museum of African American History and Culture when it opens to the public?


Terre Haute, Indiana I am so excited. First of all because my brother is an architect. So, the first thing I want to do is bask in the beauty of the outside of the building. It’s shaped like an African crown, so I’ve been told. So, you get empowered before you even walk in there. I am looking forward to seeing slave memorabilia as well as the international anti-slave memorabilia. I want to see that. The contemporary things I am excited about but I want to step back in time. I want to put myself in the shoes of my ancestors as best as I can. I want to feel their pain, resiliency and their strength.


Washington, D.C. Since it is being called the African American museum, I don’t expect it to go much into any other history besides post slavery. The notion that the African was nothing until the west snatched them away and civilized them cannot be hidden in any undertone anywhere in the presentations. I don’t expect the museum to be more than a secular showing of surface accomplishments of Black Americans over the years. First Black this, and then Black that. That said, this museum should be visited by all Americans. I would be interested most in African-American inventions and inventors. The message of the museum, I hope, will be that these people have made major, positive contributions to America and the world. So even though my expectations of the museum are not all that high, I’m glad it is being done..


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Admittedly, I don’t have a great deal of knowledge about early African-American history. Even as a teacher we boiled things down to “symbols” of African-American history. Like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Garret Morgan, Madam C.J. Walker and others, so I am interested in seeing the early exhibits. I think I will be able to broaden my understanding of the early history of African-Americans in this country.


Charlotte, North Carolina What would make me ecstatic and excited to see is not just slavery, or Jim Crow but the bridge from Africa to America. It should showcase where the Black race originated and then connect the dots. This is such a major opportunity that’s in our face to tell our story. I am one who believes African Americans did not originate through slavery. This would begin the healing process of getting to truly understand who we are and the extent of our true strength.

Congratulations to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on their opening on the National Mall. Connect to more experiences locally in Alexandria, Virginia. Nearby at Mount Vernon, you can explore the groundbreaking exhibit Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Plus, in Old Town Alexandria, from colonial times, to the Civil War, to Civil Rights, you can see the places where history happened. | Just minutes from D.C. / THE WASHINGTON INFORMER SPECIAL ISSUE – CELEBRATING THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE / SEPT 2016


3 The nearly completed museum sits adjacent to the Washington Monument. / Photo by Shevry Lassiter

4 Food culture and cuisine exhibit. / Photo by Shevry Lassiter

INSIDE THE MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE 3 Entrance to exhibit “Journey Towards Freedom” at the new museum. / Photo by Shevry Lassiter

6 Richard Hunt talks about his sculpture “Swing

Low” installation at the museum on Wed., Sept. 14. / Photo by Shevry Lassiter

5 Beverly Morgan

Welch is the associate director of external affairs at the new museum. / Photo by Shevry Lassiter

5 Thurman Jones,

publisher of the North Dallas Gazette, tours the NMAACH sports exhibit at the new museum. /

3 Visitors and guests

view a wall detailing the creation of the new museum. /Photo by Shevry Lassiter



Inaugural Exhibitions A Century in the Making: Building the National Museum of African American History and Culture (Concourse level)

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture will open on the National Mall Sept. 24, but the effort to build the museum began more than 100 years ago. This exhibit, “A Century in the Making,” explores the journey toward fulfillment of this long-held dream, providing an overview of the century-long struggle that began in 1915 and its culminating achievements. Opening the museum has involved the efforts of presidents and members of Congress, curators and architects, art collectors and army veterans, celebrities and ordinary citizens. Visitors will learn the inspiration behind the museum’s architectural building design and the significance of the museum’s unique location on the National Mall, at the center of Washington’s historic core. Curators: Joanne Hyppolite and Michelle Wilkinson

History Galleries (concourses 1, 2 and 3) Slavery and Freedom

As the centerpiece of the museum, this exhibition explores the complex story of slavery and freedom, a story standing at the core of our national experience. Beginning in the 15th century with the transatlantic slave trade, through the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, the exhibition uses personal stories to explore the economic and political legacies of slavery for all Americans. Priceless objects featured include Harriett Tubman’s shawl and hymn book (c. 1876); Nat Turner’s bible (1830s); shackles used for an enslaved child; a slave cabin from Edisto Island, S.C.; a pocket copy of the Emancipation Proclamation read from by soldiers bringing news of freedom to the U.S. Colored Troops; and freedom papers (c. 1852) carried by a former slave, Joseph Trammell. Curator: Nancy Bercaw

Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: Era of Segregation 1876–1968

This exhibition takes visitors from the end of Reconstruction through the civil rights movement of the 1960s. It is rich with history and artifacts that capture the major aspects of the ongoing struggle by the nation in general and African Americans in particular to define and make real the meaning of freedom. The exhibition will illustrate how African Americans not only survived the challenges set before them but crafted an important role for themselves in the nation, and how the nation was changed as a consequence of these struggles. Some of the most powerful artifacts in the museum are located here: Emmett Till’s casket; a dress made by Rosa Parks; a prison tower from the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola; a segregated Southern Railway rail car from the Jim Crow era; the Greensboro, N.C., Woolworth’s lunch-counter stools; and a house (c. 1874) built, owned and lived in by freed slaves in Maryland. Curator: Spencer Crew

A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond

This section illustrates the impact of African Americans on life in the United States—social, economic, political and cultural—from the death of Martin Luther King Jr. to the second election of President Barack Obama. Subjects include the Black Arts Movement, hip-hop, the Black Panthers, the rise of the black middle class and, more recently, the #BlackLivesMatter movement. This exhibition encompasses several sections focusing on Black Power era of the 1960s and ’70s, Black Studies at

All photos courtesy of NMAAHC

universities, racial dynamics in cities and suburbs and the changing role of the black middle class. The year 1968 is seen as a turning point in the modern struggle for freedom and equality with artifacts such as painted plywood panels from Resurrection City, a “Huey Newton, Minister of Defense” poster and handmade banners from the 2008 presidential election.Curators: William Pretzer and Michelle Wilkinson

Community Galleries (third floor) Power of Place

This exhibition explores the idea of place and region as a crucial component of the African American experience through an interactive multimedia area called the Hometown Hub, where visitors will engage with stories about migration and other themes. Surrounding the hub will be 10 case studies of places in the U.S. illustrating the distinct flavor and experience of each. These place studies will contain a mix of diverse stories—well known and unknown; mainstream and edgy; celebratory and challenging. These include: Chicago (black urban life and home of the Chicago Defender newspaper; Oak Bluffs (leisure in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.); Tulsa, Okla. (Black Wall Street, the story of the riot and rebirth); South Carolina’s low country (a story of life in the rice fields); Greenville, Miss. (images of segregated Mississippi through the lens of a photo studio); and Bronx, N.Y. (a story about the birth of hip-hop). Curator: Paul Gardullo

Making a Way Out of No Way

The stories in this gallery show the ways in which African Americans created possibilities in a world that denied them opportunities. These stories reflect the perseverance, resourcefulness and resilience required by African Americans to survive and thrive in America. Each story presents concrete actions and choices that people made to contest the racial status quo in America, challenging visitors to reconsider the notion of freedom as granted to African Americans and to see freedom, along with its privileges and responsibilities, as earned by African Americans. The three main sections are: an introductory space with five iconic artifacts complemented by multimedia components; the institutional pillars of African American life—education, religion, business, organizations and the press; and a tradition of activism. Among the featured stories will be a Rosenwald School in South Carolina, the First A.M.E. Church in Los Angeles and Mary McLeod Bethune and the National Council of Negro Women in Washington, D.C. Curators: Michèle Gates Moresi and Kathleen Kendrick

Sports Gallery

This exhibition will look at the contributions of athletes on and off the field. Because sports were among the first and most high-profile organizations to accept African Americans on relative terms of equality, sports have a unique role in American culture. Types of artifacts on display will include sports equipment; awards, trophies and photos; training logs and playbooks; and posters and flyers. A grip bag and uneven-bar grips used by African American gymnast Gabby Douglas in the 2012 Olympics, a white terrycloth robe worn by Muhammad Ali and the track shoes and gold medals of Carl Lewis are among the artifacts in the museum’s sports collection. Curator: Damion Thomas

Military History Gallery

The military gallery exhibition will convey a sense of appreciation and respect for the military service of African Americans from the American Revolution to the current war on terrorism. It establishes an understanding that the African American military experience shapes opportunities for the greater community and has profoundly shaped the nation. This exhibition will help visitors understand the African American military experience in three areas: “Struggle for Freedom” focusing on the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the Civil War; “Segregated Military,” about the In- / THE WASHINGTON INFORMER SPECIAL ISSUE – CELEBRATING THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE / SEPT 2016


dian Wars, Spanish-American War and World Wars I and II; and “Stirrings of Change to a Colorblind Military,” examining the Korean and Vietnam wars and today’s war on terrorism. Artifacts include Civil War badges, weapons and photographs, Flag of the 9th Regiment U.S. Colored Volunteers, a WWI Croix de Guerre medal awarded to U.S. soldier Lawrence McVey and various Tuskegee Airmen materials.Guest Curator: Krewasky Salter

Culture Galleries (fourth floor) Musical Crossroads

This exhibition tells the story of African American music from the arrival of the first Africans to today’s hip-hop. Through its content, the exhibition will be the space where history and culture intermingle and where music serves as the crossroads between musical traditions and stories of cultural and social development. The gallery is organized through stories of musical genres and themes rather than chronologically, covering classical, sacred, rock ’n’ roll, hip-hop and more. Among the artifacts in this sound-filled area will be Marian Anderson’s outfit from her 1939 concert at the Lincoln Memorial and a neon sign from Minton’s Playhouse (1938) in Harlem, known as the birthplace of bebop where Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie performed at Monday-night jam sessions. Thomas Dorsey (known as the father of gospel) will be represented by the piano and bench he used at the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago, where he served as music director for 40 years. Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin and The Staples Singers are among those who sang at the church. From the modern era, the exhibition will feature Chuck Berry’s red Cadillac and Public Enemy, the group that voiced the tenets of black pride and racial awareness. Curator: Dwandalyn Reece

Cultural Expressions

This exhibition is an introduction to the concept of African American and African diaspora culture. It examines style (identity, political expression and attitudes expressed in clothing, dress, hair and jewelry), food and foodways, artistry and creativity through craftsmanship, social dance and gesture, and language. Curator: Joanne Hyppolite Visual Arts Gallery This art exhibition will illustrate the critical role that African American artists played in shaping the history of American art. It will feature seven thematic sections and one changing exhibition gallery. Works will include paintings, sculpture, works on paper, art installations, mixed media, photography and digital media. The history and relevance of each work will be available to visitors through a multimedia platform. Curators: Tuliza Fleming and Jacquelyn Serwer

Taking the Stage

This exhibition will explore the history of African Americans in theater, film and television in order to celebrate their creative achievements, demonstrate their cultural impact and illuminate their struggles for equal representation on the stage of American entertainment. Visitors will see how African Americans transformed the ways they are represented onstage by challenging racial discrimination and stereotypes and striving to produce more positive, authentic and diverse images of African American identity and experience. Together these stories will suggest how African American performing artists also paved the way for broader social change. Stories include Paul Robeson’s role in Othello, Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf and the Black Stuntmen’s Association in Hollywood.  Curator: Kathleen Kendrick. BS


Watch Parties: September 24, 10am-12pm Opening Ceremony Churches

Other Venues

Asbury United Methodist Church 926 11th Street N W (corner of 11th & K Streets) 202-628-0009 Carol Travis (Includes historical exhibit)

African American Civil War Museum 1925 Vermont Avenue NW 202.667.2667 (Festival of the Arts & National Mall shuttle)

Allen Chapel AME Church 2498 Alabama Ave SE 202-581-1500; Church of Scientology 1424 16th Street NW 202.797.9826 Peggy Dolet or Tania McAuliffe Florida Avenue Baptist Church 623 Florida Avenue NW 202-667-3409 Regina Ensley (Includes historical exhibit) Galbraith AME Zion Church 1114 6th Street NW 202-289-1580 Israel Baptist Church 1251 Saratoga Avenue NE 202-269-0288 Dorothy McKelvin Metropolitan AME Church 1569 M Street NW 202-331-1426 Anthony Hawkins

Ben’s Chili Bowl 1213 U Street NW 202-667-8880 Kamal Ali or Nizam Ali  Culture Coffee House 709 Kennedy Street NW 301-727-0357 The Hayes Senior Wellness Center 500 K Street NW 202-727-0357 Ideal Watch & Festival Fest 4501 Dix Street NE (10am -2pm) 202-269-3186 Serengeti Gallery Park Central 7919 Central Avenue Capital Heights, MD, Champagne Breakfast 9am-12pm. 301-808-6987 Tickets: $25 per person United States Navy Memorial Park Pennsylvania Avenue between 7and 9th Streets NW. 202.380.0723

Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church 3000 Pennsylvania Avenue SE 202-581-6521 Plymouth Congregational UCC 5301 North Capitol Street NE 202.723.5330 Shiloh Baptist Church 1500 9th Street NW 202.232.4288 Westminster Presbyterian Church 400 I Street SW 202 484-7700


Collection Highlights Harriet Tubman’s Hymn Book c. 1876 Gospel Hymns No. 2, by P.P. Bliss and Ira D. Sankey, Harriet Tubman’s personal book of hymns. Gift of Charles Blockson Slave Cabin c. early 1800s A weatherboard-clad cabin used during slavery at Point of Pines Plantation on Edisto Island, S.C. Gift of The Edisto Island Historic Preservation Society Rosa Parks’ Dress c. 1955 Dress that Rosa Parks was making shortly before she was arrested for not giving up her seat on a segregated bus. Black Fashion Museum Collection. Gift of Joyce A. Bailey Tuskegee Airplane, Boeing-Stearman PT-13D Kaydet c. 1944 A vintage, open-cockpit biplane that was used at Alabama’s renowned Tuskegee Institute to train African American pilots for Army Air Corps service during World War II. Marian Anderson Ensemble c. 1939 The orange silk jacket and black-velvet skirt worn during Marian Anderson’s Easter Sunday performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939. Gift of Ginette DePreist in memory of James DePreist Muhammad Ali Headgear, Fifth Street Gym c. 1960s It was in this gym and the surrounding neighborhood with its vibrant mix of racial, political and cultural identities, some have argued, that Cassius Clay took his first crucial steps to becoming Muhammad Ali.

Construction and Layout The museum broke ground in February 2012. The 400,000-square-foot building is situated on a five-acre tract adjacent to the Washington Monument. Total cost for construction and installation of exhibitions was $540 million, one-half funded by federal funds and the remainder by the Smithsonian. The construction manager is Clark/Smoot/Russell, a joint venture of Clark Construction, Smoot Construction and HJ Russell and Co. The museum is one of the largest and most complex building projects underway in the country, in large part because of the challenges of constructing 60 percent of the structure below ground. Above Ground Fifth floor: Staff offices, board room Fourth floor: Culture galleries: “Musical Crossroads,” “Cultural Expressions,” “Visual Arts Gallery,” “Taking the Stage” Third floor: Community galleries: “Power of Place,” “Making a Way Out of No Way,” “Sports Gallery,” “Military History Gallery” Second floor: Education space, resource center, Center for African American Media Arts First floor: Central hall, welcome center, orientation theater, store Below Ground Concourse 0:   Atrium, contemplative court, Oprah Winfrey Theater, Special Exhibitions Gallery, café Concourse 1:   History Gallery—“1968 and Beyond” Concourse 2:   History Gallery—“Era of Segregation” Concourse 3:   History Gallery—“Slavery and Freedom” Located at the corner of 15th Street N.W. and Constitution Avenue, the museum includes exhibition galleries, an education center, theater, auditorium, café, store and offices. Visitors will enter the museum through the grand Porch at south (National Mall) side of the building, while a secondary entrance is provided on the north (Constitution Avenue) side. The Central Hall is the primary public space within the building and the point of orientation to the museum’s offerings. As visitors move through this generous space, they can stop at the Orientation Theater, Welcome Desk or the museum store. As visitors move through the exhibitions, a series of openings frame views of the Washington Monument, the White House and other Smithsonian museums along the Mall. These openings or “lenses” offer respite and pause at selected moments along the exhibition experience. The framed perspectives serve as a reminder that the museum presents a view of America through the lens of African American history and culture. BS / THE WASHINGTON INFORMER SPECIAL ISSUE – CELEBRATING THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE / SEPT 2016


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Opens September 24, 2016 Constitution Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets NW Washington D.C. Smithsonian

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African American History Museum special issue  

African American History Museum special issue