Fall Programming Launches With Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch’s Book Event on Third Anniversary of National Museum of African American History and Culture

Two Book Discussions, Screening of the New Film “Harriet” and the 25th Anniversary Event of Furious Flower Poetry Center With Nikki Giovanni and Sonia Sanchez Are Featured
September 18, 2019
News Release
Book cover for A Fools' Errand.

Lonnie G. Bunch III, the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian, will host a book talk Tuesday, Sept. 24, to kick off fall programming at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Bunch will join Scott Pelley of CBS’ 60 Minutes to discuss his new book A Fool’s Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Age of Bush, Obama, and Trump. The Washington, D.C., leg of Bunch’s national book tour celebrates the third anniversary of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened Sept. 24, 2016. A Fool’s Errand provides an inside account on how Bunch planned and managed the challenges of choosing a construction site, commissioning a team of architects, raising more than $400 million, designing exhibitions and building a collection of nearly 40,000 objects. The Washington event is sold out; however, the discussion will be streamed live. More information about the national book tour is available on the museum’s website.

Scheduled fall programming features two book discussions, a LGBTQ speakeasy event with comedian Sampson McCormick and a screening of the new film Harriet. All programs held in the museum’s Oprah Winfrey Theater will stream live on the museum’s Ustream channel at ustream.tv. All programs are free.

September and October Programming

Lectures & Discussion: A Fool’s Errand by Lonnie Bunch
Tuesday, Sept. 24; 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Heritage Hall)

On the museum’s third anniversary, newly appointed Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch and Scott Pelley will delve deeply into Bunch’s latest book, A Fool’s Errand, which chronicles the strategies, support systems and coalitions he put in place to build the Smithsonian’s 19th museum, one that would attract more than 4 million visitors during its first two years. The book goes on sale the same day, Sept. 24. The event is sold out; however, the discussion will stream live on the museum’s Facebook Live channel.

NMAAHC LIVE: Furious Flower 25 
Saturday, Sept. 28; 1 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (Oprah Winfrey Theater, Heritage Hall)

To celebrate African American poets and poetry, the museum will host James Madison University’s Furious Flower Poetry Center’s 25th anniversary with eight hours of poetry-focused programming open to the public. Founded in 1994 the Furious Flower Poetry Center is the nation’s first academic center of black poetry for creative writers, scholars and poetry lovers. The festivities commence with discussions, workshops and a performance by the Swazi Poets of South Africa, beginning at 3:45 p.m. The day concludes with two hours of readings and performances by 25 of the nation’s most storied American poets, including Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Gregory Pardlo, Tyehimba Jess, Yusef Komunyakaa and Terrance Hayes. Books by participating poets will be available for sale and signing courtesy of Smithsonian Enterprises. Admission is free; however, registration is required at https://nmaahc.si.edu/event/upcoming.

A Speakeasy Evening: LGBTQ Celebration
Tuesday, Oct. 15; 7 p.m. (Museum Concourse and Oprah Winfrey Theater)
Inspired by the prohibition-era clubs of the Harlem Renaissance where speakeasies like the Cotton Club and the Savoy Ballroom thrived, the museum invites visitors to attend a LBGTQ speakeasy for allies of all gender identities and orientations to experience camaraderie, comedy and art. The evening starts with a reception on Concourse Level with light refreshments. Following the reception, the museum will screen the short film Happy Birthday, Marsha! The fictional film reimagines transgender rights pioneers, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, in the hours leading to the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City. The program will conclude with social commentary by noted comedian Sampson McCormick. Registration is required at https://nmaahc.si.edu/event/upcoming.

Historically Speaking: A DNA Story: An Adoptee Traces Her Biological Roots With Dena Chasten
Saturday, Oct. 19; noon
Special guest Dena Chasten will share her journey as a 12-year-old adoptee to find her family roots. Through public records’ search and interviews, Chasten was able to locate her birth parents and later used DNA testing to discover her identity and ancestry. Chasten will explore how a class assignment led her on a life-changing journey of self-discovery and identity affirmation. To register for the event, email familyhistorycenter@si.edu.   

Historically Speaking: The Bold World by Jodie Patterson
Wednesday, Oct. 23; 7 p.m. (Oprah Winfrey Theater)

Based on her memoir The Bold World, social activist and author Jodie Patterson will reveal how she reshaped her attitudes and beliefs, as well as those of her community, to meet the needs of her trans-gender son, Penelope. Patterson has been lauded for her activist work and sits on the board of a number of gender/family/human rights organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign. The discussion will be moderated by Thelma Golden, director of the Studio Museum in Harlem. Following the discussion, Patterson’s book will be available for sale and signing courtesy of Smithsonian Books. Registration is required at https://nmaahc.si.edu/event/upcoming.

Cinema + Conversation: Harriet
Thursday, Oct. 31; 7 p.m. (Oprah Winfrey Theater, Heritage Hall)

Join the museum for a special screening and discussion of the new film Harriet, based on the life of iconic abolitionist and Underground Railroad-conductor Harriet Tubman. Directed by Kasi Lemmons, the biopic Harriet follows Tubman’s escape from slavery and subsequent missions to free dozens of enslaved men and women through the Underground Railroad. Details of the screening will be made available at https://nmaahc.si.edu/event/upcoming.

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 5 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 nmaahc.si.edu, follow @NMAAHC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or call Smithsonian information at (202) 633-1000.

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SI-368-2019

Media Only

Jermaine House

(202) 633-9495

housej@si.edu

La Fleur Paysour

(202) 633-4761

paysourf@si.edu

Public Programs