With a commitment of $25 million from Bank of America, the Smithsonian announced the Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past initiative this summer to explore how Americans understand, experience and confront race and its impact on communities. The gift is the outcome of an enduring relationship between the two institutions that dates to 1992. Bank of America’s Chairman and CEO Brian Moynihan serves on the council of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Talk about the bank’s gift to establish the Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past initiative.
There is no better institution than the Smithsonian to lead these important conversations. The Smithsonian is a national institution that touches all sectors of society in scholarly and thoughtful ways. And as the country’s museum, it represents the boldness of America, willing to take on the toughest issues we face.
My dream is to have conversations across America, so that we have greater and greater understanding of our fellow citizens—to understand what it is to walk in the shoes of a Latino American, Native American, Asian American or African American. Equality is what we have to drive for now. This initiative is a bold leap of faith, but Secretary Bunch is willing to take on the mantle of leadership to ensure the Smithsonian plays an important role for the country.
Explain your work with the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Corporate Leadership Council.
The bank has a unique relationship with the National Museum of African American History and Culture as a founding donor, and I have been on the board since 2010. The museum has had a big impact on me because it tells an important story. I’ve taken a role to help raise money from the corporate community, telling others about the impact of this museum and asking them to join the corporate council.
I am still most proud of the fact that about a third of visitors had never previously come to a museum. That shows that there was such a demand to see this story, a needed addition to the American story.
What are the guiding principles of Bank of America’s philanthropy?
We believe museums and libraries are core parts of culture and need to be supported. How we support a number of museums and exhibitions at the Smithsonian is similar to what we do with museums around the world. We are the product of our communities, and for our communities to be strong we need to not only give money but help communities develop.
Published November 2020
in IMPACT Vol. 6 No. 3
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