Press Release  May 7, 2021

Museum of African American History & Culture May Virtual Program

Photo by Carol M Highsmith. Courtesy of The Museum of African American History & Culture.

African Burial Ground, New York, New York. July 2008. Photograph. The Library of Congress.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture’s May programming features a special conversation on the landmark African Burial Ground project that revealed a greater history behind slavery in the North. The discussion explores what can be learned from Black cemeteries and how the understanding of slavery in the North has changed since the discovery of the six-acre burial ground containing the remains of enslaved and free Africans who lived and worked in colonial New York. 

The museum continues its robust virtual programming this month with a poetry workshop exploring the poetic form of “golden shovel” poetry and compose a poem based upon Marsha P. Johnson, noted gay rights activist, self-identified drag queen, and performer and a film screening dedicated to the inner life and identity of Black life.

The African Burial Grounds Thirty Years Later: Impacts On Black Cemeteries
In 1991, an archaeological survey at a construction site for a General Services Administration building on Broadway in New York City revealed intact human remains thirty feet below street level. Further research was charged to Howard University, which formed the African Burial Ground Project, directed by Michael Blakey. This project changed what is known about slavery in the North, how descendant communities are engaged, and led to new understandings about what can be learned from Black cemeteries. The Robert F. Smith Explore Your Family History Center welcomed Blakey to discuss the impacts and legacy of the African Burial Ground project and National Memorial thirty years later. He was joined by Peggy King Jorde and Joseph Jones, both of whom worked on the African Burial Grounds project and have continued to advocate for Black cemeteries and descendant communities.

Photo by Carol M Highsmith. Courtesy of The Museum of African American History & Culture.

African Burial Ground, New York, New York. July 2008. Photograph. The Library of Congress.

NMAAHC Kids: Joyful Fridays
The Joyful Fridays series welcomes children every Friday in May to create art that celebrates Black joy, history and culture. This special program is inspired by the museum’s Joyful ABC activity book series, which features activities, museum objects and new words based on characteristics featured in the book, A is for All the Things You Are: A Joyful ABC Book. To prepare for the activity, registered participants will receive a list of supplies needed, recommended books and links to online resources in the museum’s early childhood Learning Lab collections the Monday before each program. Participants can prepare for this program series by building an at-home creativity kit. This program is for children ages 4 through 8. Admission is free; however, registration is required.

Meditation Mondays
In this virtual program, participants will contemplate the journey of African Americans toward liberation through meditation. During the forty-five-minute guided sessions, attendees will have an opportunity to reflect on their liberation and discuss the meaning of freedom. Meditation and yoga instructor Ericka Phillips will lead the sessions. No experience, equipment or special clothing is necessary. Admission is free; however, registration is required.

Artful Observations
The Artful Observations program encourages critical thinking, careful observation, and perspective through guided close-looking exercises. Each session will focus on one work of art from the museum’s visual arts or photography collection. Guided by a NMAAHC educator, participants will spend an hour examining the work in detail. Participants will have the opportunity to share their inferences and interpretations based on visual observations. No formal art or art history training is required to participate. Admission is free; however, registration is required.

About the National Museum of African American History and Culture
Since opening Sept. 24, 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture has welcomed more than seven million visitors. Occupying a prominent location next to the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the nearly 400,000-square-foot museum is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted exclusively to exploring, documenting and showcasing the African American story and its impact on American and world history. For more information about the museum, visit the website, follow @NMAAHC on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or call Smithsonian information.

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