African American History Museum

Sidney Poitier, pictured here in 2006 at the Cannes Film Festival, died Friday, January 7. He was 94. 

How Sidney Poitier Rewrote the Script for Black Actors in Hollywood

Smithsonian curators reflect on the legacy of the late Poitier, who starred in 'In the Heat of the Night' and 'Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner'

A first edition of Phillis Wheatley's Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773), written while the poet was enslaved to John Wheatley of Boston. The book has a brown leather cover, the original Morocco spine label and a frontispiece featuring a portrait of Phillis by Scipio Morehead.


 

Women Who Shaped History

How Phillis Wheatley Beat All Expectations

The Revolution-era Boston establishment couldn't believe that the young African American woman wrote the exquisite book of poetry

The Moores' younger daughter, Evangeline, donated this locket and other personal artifacts to the Smithsonian in 2013.

This Locket Memorializes a Black Activist Couple Murdered in a Christmas 1951 Bombing

Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore attracted the KKK's ire for their tireless promotion of civil rights in the Jim Crow South

bell hooks, pictured in 1999

Women Who Shaped History

Groundbreaking Feminist Scholar bell hooks Dies at 69

The prolific American writer shaped a generation of discourse around Black feminism and intersectionality

Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye will lead design of the new Heritage District, a center dedicated to teaching about the history and impact of the transatlantic slave trade.

History of Now

After Breaking Ties With Britain, Barbados Announces Heritage District Tracing Slavery's Toll

The four-phase project will include a museum, global research center and memorial

Dozens of Smithsonian Institution professionals share their favorite reads from this year.

The Best Books of 2021

Smithsonian Scholars Pick Their Favorite Books of 2021

The writings of many fine authors support the research and ambitious undertakings of an Institution rising to the challenges ahead

The black-and-white stills represent the spirit rendered by King Richard, the new film starring Will Smith as the Williams sisters’ father, coach and mentor.

Based on a True Story

These Vintage Photos of Venus and Serena Williams Reveal the Truth of 'King Richard'

Seen as preteens, the future tennis sensations loved each other as much as they loved the sport

In October, the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History displayed this vandalized, bullet-ridden marker—one of three placed at the Mississippi site where, in 1955, police found the body of 14-year-old Emmett Till.

Why Museums Are Primed to Address Racism, Inequality in the U.S.

Smithsonian leaders discuss how the Institution can be a powerful place for investigating and addressing society’s most difficult issues

In the aftermath of the Civil War, more than four million newly freed Blacks sought fulfillment of the promises laid out in the U.S. Constitution. Says Kinshasha Holman Conwill, NMAAHC's deputy director: "The shadow of Reconstruction is a long shadow." (Above: Lewis "Big June" Marshall carries the flag during the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965.)

America Is Still Reckoning With the Failures of Reconstruction

A new NMAAHC book and exhibition examine the reverberating legacies of the post-Civil War era

Smithsonian scientist Genevieve Noyce conducts a plant census in a wetland at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland.

 

How the Smithsonian Grapples With Climate Change

As a hub for research and education, the Institution is poised to help the world find solutions to the global challenge

Attorney, author, scholar and reverend Pauli Murray, pictured here on December 22, 1976

LGBTQ+ Pride

The Trailblazing, Multifaceted Activism of Lawyer-Turned-Priest Pauli Murray

New documentary tells the story of a Black and LGBTQ thinker who helped lay the legal groundwork for fighting gender- and race-based discrimination

Detail of Ronald N. Sherr's General Colin Powell, 2012, oil on canvas

History of Now

Colin Powell, First Black Secretary of State, Dies of Covid-19 at 84

The decorated general broke racial barriers in the U.S. military but attracted criticism for his part in paving the way for the Iraq War

I Go To Prepare A Place For You (detail) by Bisa Butler, 2021

These Stunning Artworks Capture the Resilience—and Defiance—of Black Lives Matter

At NMAAHC's new show "Reckoning" Bisa Butler’s vivid Harriet Tubman joins works from Amy Sherald, Jean-Michel Basquiat and other prominent visual artists

In this 2017 photo, employees set up scaffolding to remove stained-glass windows depicting Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson at Washington National Cathedral.

National Cathedral to Replace Confederate-Themed Stained Glass With Art Dedicated to Racial Justice

Artist Kerry James Marshall will create two new windows for the historic Washington, D.C. church

Through the Freedmen's Bureau, formerly enslaved people were able to obtain formal legal recognition of their marriages.

Innovation for Good

Newly Digitized Freedmen's Bureau Records Help Black Americans Trace Their Ancestry

Genealogists, historians and researchers can now peruse more than 3.5 million documents from the Reconstruction-era agency

Josephine Baker's remains will be reinterred at Paris' Panthéon on November 30.

Performer Josephine Baker to Be First Black Woman Buried at Paris' Panthéon

The talented entertainer, activist and spy will be the fifth woman accorded one of France's highest honors

Simone Biles (pictured) and Naomi Osaka, both Black athletes at the top of their sports, have been vocal about their struggles with mental health.

Race in America

The Relationship Between Race and Wellness Has Never Been More Pressing

A new Smithsonian initiative kicks off this week with a virtual summit examining these urgent issues

The Smithsonian Anthology of Hip Hop and Rap tracks the evolution of the genre from its music to its culture and to its people. "Everything that is part of hip-hop," says the Smithsonian's Dwandalyn Reece, curator of music and performing arts.

Chronicling Hip-Hop's 45-Year Ascendance as a Musical, Cultural and Social Phenom

The groundbreaking box set "Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap" features 129 tracks, liner notes and an illustrated 300-page compendium

An interactive lunch counter at the African American History Museum lets visitors grapple with moral dilemmas of the civil rights movement.

Race in America

Secretary Lonnie Bunch on Why the Smithsonian Is Talking About Race

In a deeply divided moment, a new initiative aims to bring Americans together by reckoning with our racial past

Robert McCurdy, Untitled, Jeffrey P. Bezos, 2019, oil on canvas

Jeff Bezos Gifts Historic $200 Million to the Smithsonian

The Amazon founder's gift—the largest since the Institution was created in 1846—will support the Air and Space Museum renovation and a new education center

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