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African American History

National Museum of African American History and Culture
A black-and-white photograph of a man speaking from a podium during a dinner recognizing Hugh Mulzac for being named a naval captain after 22 years of naval service. Mulzac is seated next to the podium at bottom right.

African-American Consumer and Business Magazine

National Museum of African American History and Culture
Magazine with a large color photograph of Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. and Minister Louis Farrakhan. The image shows both men standing with Chavis on the left and Farrakhan on the right. Both men are dressed in suits and bow ties. The men stand in an interior room with chairs and small flags resting on the window sills. Behind the men is a palm plant. In the top left of the cover, behind the men, is the partial title of the publication [African-American/CONSUMER]. The word "consumer" is in large red and black letters. In the upper right corner in black text is the date, location, price, and a continuation of the publication title [NOVEMBER"/"DECEMBER 1995/WASHINGTON METRO BALITMORE/NORTHERN VIRGINIA/$3.00/and Business/Magazine]. Down the left side in red and yellow text is the publication's featured article [Million/Man/March/Peaceful/Rally/Makes/History]. On the lower right side is additional text in green and red [Message To/The Masses/Lead,/Follow/or Get/Out Of/The Way!]. Along the bottom of the image is the image caption in black text [Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan]. The entire image as well as all the text is contained within a yellow border on a black background.

African American Man

National Museum of American History

African American Woman

National Museum of American History

National Museum of African American History and Culture Opens

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
NMAAHC is the nineteenth Smithsonian Museum

"A Century in the Making: The Journey to Build a National Museum," Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture (blog), Tumblr. August 24th, 2016, http://nmaahc.tumblr.com/post/149430396115/a-century-in-the-making-the-journey-to-build-a.

"Culture Wars Won and Lost, Part II: The National African-American Museum Project," Radical History Review 70 (1998): 78-101.

The Time Has Come: Report to the President and to the Congress". National Museum of African American History and Culture Plan for Action Presidential Commission, last modified April 2, 2003, http://nmaahceis.si.edu/documents/The_Time_Has_Come.pdf.

Dodson, Howard. "A Place of our Own: The National Museum of African American History and Culture." Callaloo Vol. 38 No. 4. (2015): 729-741.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is opened on September 24, 2016 by President Barack Obama during a three day festival on the National Mall produced by Quincy Jones, a member of the museum's advisory board. The only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture, its goals are 1) to provide an opportunity for those who are interested in African American culture to explore this history through interactive exhibitions; 2) to help all Americans see how their stories, their histories, and their cultures are shaped and informed by global influences; 3) to explore what it means to be an American and share how American values like resiliency, optimism, and spirituality are reflected in African American history and culture; and 4) to serve as a place of collaboration that reaches beyond Washington to engage new audiences and to collaborate with museums and educational institutions that preserved this important history well before this museum was created.

NMAAHC was established by law in 2003, the culmination of decades of efforts to commemorate African American history. African American civil war veterans began the push to commemorate the African American influence on America with a place on the National Mall in 1915. Veterans of the US Colored Troops were nearly excluded from a 50th anniversary Grand Review Parade celebrating the victorious Union Troops. USCT veterans formed a Committee of Colored Citizens of the Grand Army of the Republic to make sure their military service was remembered and provide help with housing, food, and logistical costs for African American veterans. After the parade, funds from this committee went to a National Memorial Association to create a more permanent memorial to African Americans' contributions to America. The association's aim was to build a building to depict African Americans' contributions in all walks of life, not just military. While no site was designated, the National Mall was the committee's goal.

Despite significant racially charged opposition, this Association worked long and hard to accomplish their goal, and with significant grass roots support that overcame congressional racism, a joint resolution creating a commission for the museum was signed into Law by President Coolidge on March 4, 1929. Unfortunately, due to the stock market crash later that year, the commission was unable to raise funds and the museum was never built. The civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968 galvanized interest again. An initiative by Tom Mack, president of Tourmobile Sightseeing, a DC shuttle tour company, led to a 1986 Joint Resolution sponsored by Representatives Mickey Leland of Texas and John R. Lewis of Georgia and Senator Paul Simon of Illinois "to encourage and support" private efforts to build a memorial and a museum in Washington, DC.

Starting in 1988, new bills were introduced annually in the Congress by Rep. John Lewis to create a National African American Heritage Museum and Memorial within the Smithsonian Institution. In 1991, a Smithsonian blue-ribbon commission recommended the creation of a national museum devoted to African Americans to collect, analyze, research, and organize exhibitions on a scale and definition that matched the major museums devoted to other aspects of American life. The commission recommended that the museum be temporarily located in the Arts and Industries Building until a new, larger facility could be built, but the legislation stalled amid controversy about funding and the appropriateness of the site. In 2001, a new bipartisan coalition of Representatives John Lewis and J. C. Watts, Jr., and Senators Sam Brownback and Max Cleland renewed efforts to establish a National Museum of African American History and Culture within the Smithsonian Institution. Renewed questions about funding and feasibility of using the Arts and Industries Building resulted in the passage of P.L. 107-106 on December 28, 2001, which established the NMAAHC Plan for Action Presidential Commission to develop a feasible plan to move forward with the museum.

Flier for an African American Resource Machine benefit with Eldridge Cleaver

National Museum of African American History and Culture
A flyer for a benefit hosted by the African-American Resource Machine advertising a presentation by Eldridge Cleaver. The flyer is mostly off-white with a black silhouette of a man dominating the center left side of the flyer. The top and bottom of the flyer have thick black bands with the name [ELDRIDGE] and [CLEAVER] writing in negative space, off-white text. There is a small red design in the black band in the top right corner. Printed vertically and along the right edge, and horizontally along the bottom edge, is repeating black text that reads [African-American Resource Machine]. Next to the silhouette, at the center right, is the benefit information printed in black text that reads [Saturday, / April 14 / Artist's Television Access 2pm / 992 Valencia St. / San Francisco / 824-3890 / BENEFIT: A A R M]. The ticket price is printed in black vertical text next to Cleaver’s last name, [$18]. There is a quote by Cleaver printed in negative space, off-white text over the shoulders of the silhouetted figure that reads: “The system is evil. It is criminal; it is / murderous. And it is in control. It is in / power. It is arrogant. It is crazy. And / it looks upon the people as its proper- / ty. So much so that cops, who are pub- / lic servants, feel justified in going onto / a school campus, and spraying Mace in / the faces of the people.” The back of the flyer is blank with two handwritten pencil inscriptions in the top left corner.

Resolution Calling for National African American Museum

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
H.R. 666, 1986 Resolution Calling for National African American Museum, 1986.

"Save Our African American Treasures" in Charleston, S.C

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Participants in the "Save Our African American Treasures" program held in May 2009 in Charleston, South Carolina. "Treasures" is a national outreach program presented by the National Museum of African American History and Culture to ensure the preservation of African American history. Looking on (center rear) are NMAAHC Director Lonnie Bunch and Congressman James Clyburn (DSC), and Deputy Director Kinshasha Holman Conwill stands at right. Visitors are learning how to preserve artifacts.

African-American Train Porter

National Museum of American History

25th Annual African American Day Parade poster

National Museum of African American History and Culture
Poster with green geometric lines across the top and bottom. Between the lines, taking up the majority of the front, is red and black text [25th ANNUAL/AFRICAN-AMERICAN/DAY PARADE/(Largest Black Parade In America)/Sunday, September 26, 1993/at 1:00 P.M. in HARLEM/PARADE ROUTE:/111th St. & Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. to 142nd Street/MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY BAND/GRAMBLING COLLEGE BAND/WE ARE URGING BLACK ORGANIZATIONS/TO COME OUT AND MARCH/For further information contact:/ABE SNYDER or GEORGE BROWN at (212) 348-3080/African American Day Parade, Inc./1 West 125th Street, Room 208/New York, N.Y. 10027/"MARCH WITH DIGNITY AND PRIDE"/THIS IS YOUR DAY!].

African-American Banjo

National Museum of American History
This banjo was made by an unknown maker in the United States around 1835-1865. It has undergone considerable scrutiny and analysis at the Smithsonian because of its attribution to American slave origins. So far, studies have been inconclusive. While the sun design carved on the body may have African origins, the polygonal shape, wood top (instead of a skin), and carved head pegbox lie outside the traditions of banjos brought to America by Africans. Nevertheless, the instrument was likely made by someone familiar with Black culture.

African-American farm workers

National Museum of American History

Three African American men

National Museum of American History

Celebrating African American History and Culture

Smithsonian Libraries
In celebration of the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture this weekend, we’ve put together a special digital collection of titles related to the African American experience.  Many of these books come from our National Museum of African American History and Culture Library, which will open in the museum later more »

African American family portrait

National Museum of American History

African-American baby girl

National Museum of American History

Smithsonian African American Film Fest

National Museum of African American History and Culture
Starting October 24, cinema, history, and culture will collide at the first-ever Smithsonian African American Film Festival. Over the course of the week, the festival will celebrate African American visual culture and film, offering attendees an unparalleled opportunity to explore cinematic works by some of the brightest emerging and veteran filmmakers, alongside other historic and lesser-known films that tell the stories of Black experiences in America. Here’s a taste of what’s in store—get the details (and your tickets!) at aafilmfest.si.edu. #APeoplesJourney #AAFilmFest

African-American Children in Mississippi

National Museum of American History
African-American Children in Mississippi by Marc St. Gil; four smiling African-American children, two boys and two girls, on porch of a duplex home; two girls are seated on top step of porch and two boys are standing in the open doorway of the home; tricycle, meterboxes, chair

African-American Children outside Tent

National Museum of American History

African American girl outside home

National Museum of American History

African-American Shack in Florida

National Museum of American History

Portrait of African-American Baby

National Museum of American History

African American girl with doll

National Museum of American History

African American woman with book

National Museum of American History
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