Category: Arts / Style

Oregon State University Changes Three Building Names That Honored Proponents of Slavery

Oregon State University buildings to be renamed (photos via cbsnews.com; facebook.com/DailyBarometer)

by Saul Hubbard via registerguard.com

After a two-year process, Oregon State University President Ed Ray announced recently that he has chosen new monikers for three university buildings whose previous namesakes have ties to historical racist positions or beliefs.

OSU’s Benton Hall will become Community Hall, honoring local residents who raised funds to start the college in 1860s and 1870s; Benton Annex, the university’s women center, will become the Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center, after an African-American suffragette who lived in Portland in the early 20th century; and Avery Lodge will be renamed Champinefu Lodge, borrowing a word signifying “at the place of the blue elderberry” from the dialect of the local native Kalapuya Tribe.

“The names of buildings and places play a very important role in our university,” Ray said Monday in a prepared statement. “They speak to the history of OSU, the university’s values and mission, and our efforts to create an inclusive community for all. Names also recognize and honor the positive contributions of those associated with the university.”

The changes follow a push that has occurred across the country in recent years to proactively remove names and take down statues that honor people who held overtly racist views, in the name of improving race relations. Those efforts have faced blow-back from people who argue that they erase history and punish historical figures for views that were widely held during their lifetimes.

Ray decided last November that the building names associated with former Missouri U.S. Sen. Thomas Hart Benton and Corvallis co-founder Joseph C. Avery should be stripped from the buildings, following community input and scholarly research into their positions.

Hattie Redmond (photo via Ohio Historical Society)

An architect of the United States westward expansion and backer of the Manifest Destiny, Benton “supported federal legislation to remove Native Americans from their tribal lands and, while he was opposed to extending slavery into western states, he was not in favor of abolishing slavery elsewhere,” Ray wrote last November.

While the 1947 naming of Benton Hall was designed to honor Benton County residents, not Thomas Benton, Ray determined that the hall’s name didn’t make that distinction clear. Joseph Avery, meanwhile, pushed “views and political engagement in the 1850s to advance slavery in Oregon (that) are inconsistent with Oregon State’s values,” Ray wrote, making the 1966 name untenable.

Ray decided against renaming OSU’s Gill Coliseum and the Arnold Dining Center, however, after ruling that their namesakes, Benjamin Lee Arnold and Amory Gill, displayed some signs of forward-thinking racial acceptance, outweighing the more controversial parts of their biographies.

The new names announced Monday were chosen by Ray, after receiving input from OSU faculty, students and leaders of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon.

Champinefu, which is pronounced CHOM-pin-A-foo, was chosen because Native Americans of the Kalapuya Tribe traveled to the area around Corvallis to harvest wild blue elderberries.

Hattie Redmond, meanwhile, was part of the successful push in 1912 to give women the right to vote in Oregon, after voters previously had rejected it five times. According to the Oregon Historical Society, Redmond’s role was little known and not celebrated until 2012, when details of her biography were discovered during the centennial celebration of woman suffrage in Oregon. Redmond, the daughter of slaves, moved to Portland in 1880, in an era when the state still had a black exclusion law in its constitution. Redmond was the president of the Colored Women’s Equal Suffrage Association during the 1912 campaign and organized meetings and educational lectures on the issue in a local church.

Read more: http://www.registerguard.com/news/20180730/osu-changing-three-building-names-to-promote-inclusivity

Rihanna Becomes 1st Black Woman to Land Cover of British Vogue’s September Issue

photos via eveningstandard.com

by Andrea Park via cbsnews.com

Rihanna made history by becoming the first black woman to appear on the cover of British Vogue‘s September issue. Like the publication’s U.S. edition, the September issue is the most prestigious edition of the fashion magazine.

Rihanna shared her cover photo on Instagram. She’s wearing a hot pink Prada dress, Savage x Fenty gloves, a flower headdress and thin, drawn-on eyebrows a la Marlene Dietrich. The “Wild Thoughts” singer also posted photos from inside the issue, in which she dons different oversized floral headpieces.

The magazine’s editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful, styled the cover and photo shoot, and Nick Knight served as photographer. Enninful wrote in his editor’s letter that he knew he wanted the singer on the cover for the magazine’s September issue.

“I always knew it had to be Rihanna,” he wrote. “A fearless music-industry icon and businesswoman, when it comes to that potent mix of fashion and celebrity, nobody does it quite like her. No matter how haute the styling goes, or experimental the mood, you never lose her in the imagery. She is always Rihanna. There’s a lesson for us all in that. Whichever way you choose to dress the new season, take a leaf out of her book and be yourself.”

Enninful wrote that the two talked about diversity and Rihanna’s life as a diva for the accompanying profile.

British Vogue’s September issue hits newsstands today.

Source: https://www-cbsnews-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/rihanna-becomes-first-black-woman-to-cover-british-vogues-september-issue/

Beyoncé Hires Tyler Mitchell, 23, to Shoot Her September 2018 Vogue Cover, 1st Black Photographer in Magazine’s 126-Year History

Tyler Mitchell (photo via crybabyzine.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to huffingtonpost.com, musical icon Beyoncé received unprecedented control over the cover of the upcoming September issue of Vogue magazine, and in turn hired Tyler Mitchell, 23, to be her photographer. Mitchell will become the first black photographer to shoot a cover in the publication’s 126-year history.

Vogue, according to two sources who are familiar with the agreement between Vogue and Beyoncé, is contractually obligated to give Beyoncé full control over the cover, the photos of her inside the magazine and the captions, which she has written herself and are in long-form. Beyoncé is also not granting Vogue a sit-down interview for the September 2018 issue, as is typical of its cover subjects.

Mitchell, a New York University graduate from Atlanta, quickly became a recognized name in the art world through his work in Cuba and his featured work on Instagram.

The New York Times’ “Up Next” series featured Mitchell in December.  Huffingtonpost.com writes that 23-year-old first gained attention in 2015 with his self-published book of photos, El Paquete, which focused on Cuban skate culture and architecture. Mitchell captured the book’s 108 photos while in Cuba for six weeks as part of a documentary photography program, according to the Times.

Mitchell also photographed Parkland shooting survivors including Sarah Chadwick, Nza-Ari Khepra, Emma Gonzalez and Jaclyn Corin for Teen Vogue’s piece on the #NeverAgain gun control movement.

“I depict black people and people of color in a really real and pure way,” Mitchell told The New York Times in December. “There is an honest gaze to my photos.”

FEATURE: Aaron Maybin, NFL Linebacker Turned Art Teacher and Activist, Gives Back to Kids in Baltimore

Maybin, talks to students at “Gallery Night,” an end of year art showcase at Matthew A. Henson Elementary School. (MARY F. CALVERT FOR ESPN)

via theundefeated.com

Aaron Maybin was an All-America linebacker at Penn State University and was drafted 11th overall by the Buffalo Bills in 2009. He played four seasons in the NFL for the Bills and New York Jets before retiring in 2014. He has since turned full-time to his art, chronicling his hometown’s challenges with poverty and crime through painting, photography and poetry, and he works as a teacher in Baltimore schools. Last winter, he became the outspoken face of outrage after many of Baltimore schools went without heat during extreme cold. He was written a book, Art Activism, which chronicles Maybin’s journey.

Here, as told to ESPN’s Kevin Van Valkenburg, Maybin tells about his path from a life of football to working on behalf of kids from his neighborhood, how he connects with students and why he doesn’t see himself as a hero.


When I was younger, football gave me an identity.

Growing up in communities like the one I grew up in, West Baltimore, you’re always fighting for your identity. From the time you’re born until you’re grown, you’re literally inundated with stories of how your safety is always in jeopardy and how everybody – from your parents to people in the community to folks at your church – is just so hell-bent and focused on keeping you safe.

So many of us in those neighborhoods are so angry, so furious, at everything. At the world. I lost my mother at 6 years old. I was mad at God. I was mad at my family. I was mad at everything. In those kinds of environments, especially for young kids of color, people look to attach themselves to something greater.

I had been an artist my whole life, but when I was younger, it was not cool for you to just be like, “Yeah I’m an artist. I make things.” Football was the first thing I did and I excelled at to the level where I gained acceptance and admiration from everybody that saw me do my thing. It was like an outlet.

Football was the first space that I was afforded where you’re not penalized for your anger. You’re celebrated for it. You knock somebody out of a game and people give you praise. They know you as this guy not to be messed with, to be respected and celebrated.

It wasn’t until I got older that I didn’t want my identity to be tied to a game anymore.

I can look at football now with a certain amount of nostalgia and not be too heavily tied to it, because at the end of the day, I stopped being tied to the game.

It was probably around college at Penn State that I realized there’s something wrong with how we were being conditioned as athletes. Even as great a coach as Joe Paterno was, he had some deep-seated issues that were rooted in race and patriarchy and bigotry that reared their heads in how we were handled as players and as men.

The idea that we couldn’t have facial hair, for example. If it was past like a five o’clock shadow, then you would get penalized. If you had locks or an Afro or something like that, he would be like, “You’ve got to do something with that.” Guys would get it braided or twisted, but as soon as he would see it, he would be like, “Cut it.” If you look at people like myself, LaVar Arrington, Jared Odrick, NaVorro Bowman, basically every black player who went to Penn State, you see them leave and go through an almost Rastafarian physical transformation where we all grow our beards out. We all either get our hair in locks or twists or cornrows.

College years are very pivotal years, right? Throughout the same time that you’re just starting to learn about your blackness or where you fit in the larger society, you’re starting to learn about historical context of your roots. You have somebody who you look at and revere as your leader who tells you that there’s something wrong with you. That there’s something unacceptable about the natural things that make you who you are, that there’s something wrong with your person.

I didn’t realize how problematic it was back then. I was young. I didn’t really understand how deep those things went and where they were coming from. I just knew that those were the guidelines that I had to abide by. We’ve got to ask ourselves why a lot more.

Continue reading “FEATURE: Aaron Maybin, NFL Linebacker Turned Art Teacher and Activist, Gives Back to Kids in Baltimore”

Nigerian-Born Taofeek Abijako, 19, is Youngest Designer to Show at Men’s New York Fashion Week

Head-of-State+ founder Taofeek Abijako (Photo by Nicolas Hunt via Getty Images)

by  via teenvogue.com

At just 19-years-old, this week, Nigerian-born designer Taofeek Abijako became the youngest designer to present a collection at New York Fashion Week: Men’s. Taofeek held a presentation for his brand Head of State+s spring/summer 2019 collection, which paid homage to 70s afro-futurism styles and West African youth culture.

Head-of-State+ first caught the eye of the fashion community weeks after its official launch in 2016. According to The New York Times Style Magazine, Japanese luxury retailer United Arrows found his self-produced lookbook on Twitter and began stocking the brand shortly after. The following year The New York Times Style Magazine labeled Head of State+ a “brand to watch”, and sure enough, the industry took notice. At the time, Taofeek was a senior in high school living in his parents Albany, New York home. He had only immigrated from Nigeria just two years prior and had just retired his soccer cleats to focus on fashion completely.

The brand’s latest offering, entitled Genesis, is the fourth collection from Taofeek. Genesis reflects the high-end streetwear aesthetic Taofeek has been exploring since its inception, and featured light trucker jackets, white tailored pants, and fitted knitwear. Speaking to the CFDA Taofeek explained, “Genesis is the translation of Afro-futurism portrayed by the likes of Parliament-Funkadelic and Sun Ra through the lens of West African youth – while at the same time celebrating the vibrancy of West African youth culture in the ‘70s and drawing parallels to modern time. The continuous homage to Fela Kuti is also portrayed.”

SS19 “Genesis” – LOOK 5 (Jean Mark)

A post shared by HEAD OF STATE+ (@headofstate_) on

Now in its second year of operation, Head of State+’s visions as a brand is beginning to manifest into something that is much bigger than clothing. “I approach Head of State+ as less of a brand and more of a case study,” Taofeek told the CFDA. “It’s me digging into my cultural upbringing while trying to have a firm grasp and understanding of it.” In addition to his cultural advocacy, Taofeek is making a case for youth culture and providing the blueprint for how young designers can bypass the fashion industry’s hierarchy and establish a solid brand with minimal financial backing or formal training.

Source: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/taofeek-abijako-mens-nyfw-youngest-designer

Beyoncé Collaborates With Olivier Rousteing to Create Balmain x Beyoncé Collection to Benefit United Negro College Fund

Beyoncé Knowles.(Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

via vogue.com

Just before Coachella was rechristened Beychella, Beyoncé Knowles and Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing had an idea. It happened in a rehearsal, while Beyoncé and her dancers were practicing in their Balmain-made looks inspired by the marching band uniforms of America’s historically black colleges and universities. “When she saw all the dancers loving the outfit—and she was loving her own outfit—she realized that what we were creating on stage for her, for all the dancers, was something really impactful,” says Rousteing. It clicked: Why not make a Beyoncé x Balmain collaboration that could make those poignant graphics available to all of Bey’s fans clamoring for a piece of history?

On Friday, July 13, Balmain will launch a three-piece Balmain x Beyoncé collection in its Paris flagship, with the items going on sale on balmain.com and beyonce.com the following day. Comprised of the yellow and pink sweatshirts Beyoncé wore on stage at Coachella, the collection also includes a black tee with the same sorority-inspired graphic.

“I worked really long with her on the Beychella moments, and the fact that we can release this collaboration that is based on our creativity, Beyoncé and I, is really a big, big step for fashion and music together,” continues the designer. “Beyoncé, she’s such a perfectionist; she’s someone that is so strong and has such a great point of view. She’s about feminism, empowering women, and the idea of bringing that collaboration where we can share the same ideas, the same vision of music, the same vision of fashion, the same vision of what is going on in the world, it’s more than just clothes. It’s a strong message, and I’m really proud to be a part of that.”

He continues: “Sometimes, you create a moment, and it’s just one moment. With the clothes that we are creating now, it’s going to be a moment that keeps going and going and going. This is something really important. Everybody is always telling me about millennials or about the future—this is the future. This is making sure that these iconic moments talk to the young people. This is something important and this collaboration is talking to the new generation and saying you can get that piece, you can be a part of the history.”

The message, as Rousteing tells it, is to never stop dreaming. He relates Beyoncé’s global success, her message of standing against racism and standing for women, as something he wishes he had growing up in France. “This to me feels really emotional because, as you know, I’m of mixed race. I’m black and my parents are white. I grew up in France without having a real identification of being black and being an adult. I couldn’t see myself in the future, in a way, because there were not so many people in the ’80s or early ’90s that could show me a direction,” he says. “For me, working with Beyoncé, it’s more than only music. It’s about history, working with a woman that’s going to be part of the history and has made her own revolution, not only in music, not only in fashion. She is an icon to an entire generation and so many more generations can follow the steps of Beyoncé and say, ‘You give us hope, you make us dream.’ ”

Proceeds from the collaboration will benefit the United Negro College Fund, following Beyoncé’s $100,000 donation to four historically black colleges after her Coachella set. “The donation was the main goal of this collaboration,” says Rousteing. “We don’t forget where we come from. This is really, really important—I come from an orphanage, you know. I think there is something really emotional about our collaboration.”

Balmain x Beyoncé will be available on July 13 at Balmain’s Paris flagship and from July 14 online and at select retailers; tee, $290; sweatshirts, $550–$1,790

Read more: https://www.vogue.com/article/beyonce-x-balmain-coachella-collaboration

Will Smith Honored with Mural in West Philadelphia (VIDEO)

Will Smith mural in West Philadelphia (photo via ambrosiaforheads.com)

by Kia Morgan-Smith via thegrio.com

Will Smith is the native son of West Philadelphia and the city that raised the mega movie star paid homage with the painting of a mural by British artist Richard Wilson.

Wilson reportedly envisioned Smith’s painting in the light of Kehinde Wiley’s presidential portrait of Barack Obama, except that Smith has on more casual attire.

Smith, said it was humbling to learn that Wilson, a renowned artist chose him as his subject to paint a mural which lives on the wall of Gevurtz Furniture store on Girard Ave in the city. “The idea that there would be a mural of me on the side of a school in West Philadelphia just wrecked me,” said an emotional Smith, wiping away tears in a video about the mural.

Will Smith’s mom, Caroline Bright, also was at a loss for words when she came to see the mural firsthand. Even Smith’s close friend and former bodyguard Charlie Mack, complimented Wilson on getting Smith’s protruding ears just perfect.

Dr. Naomi Booker, CEO of Global Leadership Academy was moved knowing that her school sits near the giant mural and her students can take a page from Smith’s book and dream big. “This man is an icon and he’s looking at GLA (Global Leadership Academy) so my kids everyday will see this image and know that you can be whatever you want to be,” Booker said according to Philly.com.

“This is a man who grew up in Philadelphia, went to Overbrook High School up the street was a part of this world, that he now is looking at us,” she said about the mural facing the school.

Smith hasn’t yet see the mural in person but reportedly plans a visit to the city to check it out. In the meanwhile, he’s launched a fundraiser and is selling merchandise where 100% of proceeds will go to West Philadelphia’s Global Leadership Academy Charter School and artist Richard Wilson.

Source: https://thegrio.com/2018/07/03/will-smith-and-his-mom-celebrate-philadelphia-mural/

National Portrait Gallery in London Debuts Michael Jackson-Inspired Art Exhibition “On The Wall”

Detail from Thriller (Black and White), 2017, by Graham Dolphin. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

by Adrian Searle via theguardian.com

‘Ariel of the ghetto,” the writer Hilton Als called him. He has been compared to Baudelaire and Frankenstein’s monster; he played the Scarecrow in the Wiz, and transformed himself into a zombie in the Thriller video. He was both a global superstar and an enigma, almost universally feted, then prosecuted and vilified. Michael Jackson, now the subject of a large and surprising exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery, proves to be an enormously fertile figure for artists to have got their heads, as well as their art around, and often their hearts too.

Largely, Jackson passed me by, except as a kind of background music. The videos came and went on the screen and, as the news stories and TV footage became ever more puzzling and alarming, what interest I might have had in him became increasingly voyeuristic.

Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson), 2010, by Kehinde Wiley. Photograph: Jeurg Iseler/Kehinde Wiley, courtesy of Stephen Friedman Gallery, London and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York

And all the while Jackson kept cropping up in places I didn’t expect to find him. My dry cleaner on the Hackney Road dressed like him. Jeff Koons made a giant porcelain sculpture of Jackson and his pet chimp, Bubbles. And here he is in Andy Warhol portraits, and in a huge equestrian portrait by Kehinde Wiley, based on Rubens’ Philip II on Horseback. Jackson is on the cover of Rolling Stone and Ebony and, in a Catherine Opie photograph, framed and smiling on Elizabeth Taylor’s bedside table. He’s a pieta, the Archangel Michael defeating the devil and, in a Mark Flood collage, a four-eyed alien standing next to ET. There are gigantic Michaels, tiny Michaels, badly drawn Michaels. Here he is in a horrible painting by Maggie Hambling that makes you squirm and want to run away. It is the worst thing here.

Interview magazine, September 2009 by KAWS. Photograph: Courtesy of KAWS

In Jordan Wolfson’s “Neverland,” Jackson is reduced to a tiny pair of hand-drawn eyes, blinking and swaying in a blank sea of emptiness on a big screen, to a gurgling sound reminiscent of a fish-tank aerator. Globbloboblob goes the sound, replacing whatever music Jackson might be swaying to. In Appau Junior Boakye-Yiadom’s PYT, Jackson is reduced to an overlarge pair of penny loafers, held on tiptoe (like his dance move “the freeze”) by a bunch of balloons. David Hammons has Jackson as one of a trio of microphone stands, the others standing for boxer Mike Tyson and basketball player Michael Jordan, in Which Mike Do You Want to Be Like…? The mic stands are too high for anyone to use, an image of unattainable ambitions and public expectations.
Continue reading “National Portrait Gallery in London Debuts Michael Jackson-Inspired Art Exhibition “On The Wall””

Ava Duvernay, Alfre Woodard, Spike Lee and More Recreate Iconic ‘Great Day In Harlem’ Portrait

"A Great Day in Hollywood"
(Photo by Kwaku Alston)

by Shamika Sanders via blackamericaweb.com

Netflix re-imagines the iconic A Great Day in Harlem” photo that captured 57 notable jazz musicians in front of a Harlem brownstone. XXL Magazine did the same with their “A Great Day In Hip-Hop” cover in 1999 featuring artists like Run of Run DMC, Busta Rhymes and other hip-hop notables of the era.

Netflix’s homage to the famous photo features 47 creative and talented behind 20+ original shows/films/documentaries. A 60-second video of the event, directed by Lacey Duke, premieres during the BET Awards.

“It was a pretty magical couple of hours,” Duke said in the official release. “All these amazingly talented, beautiful individuals in one space being supportive and just looking stunning together, all here to pull off this one take wonder! Alfre Woodard even lead everyone in an epic rendition of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ before we started shooting. It was beautiful, and in a flash it was over. It was probably the most overwhelming two hours of my career haha. I was just so happy to be a part of history.”

To see and learn more about the original photo, click here.

To see a list of who in Black Hollywood is in the picture above, scroll down:

  • Ava Duvernay (13th, Central Park Five)
  • Spike Lee (She’s Gotta Have It)
  • Alfre Woodard (Luke Cage; Juanita)
  • Gabrielle Dennis (Luke Cage)
  • Simone Missick (Luke Cage)
  • Cheo Hodari Coker (Luke Cage)
  • Mike Colter (Luke Cage)
  • Antonique Smith (Luke Cage)
  • Mustafa Shakir (Luke Cage)
  • Vaneza Oliveira (3%)
  • Russell Hornsby (Seven Seconds)
  • Priah Ferguson (Stranger Things)
  • Caleb McLaughlin (Stranger Things)
  • Lena Waithe (Master of None; Dear White People; Step Sisters)
  • Chante Adams (Roxanne Roxanne)
  • Nia Long (Roxanne Roxanne, Dear White People)
  • Justin Simien (Dear White People)
  • Logan Browning (Dear White People)
  • Nia Jervier (Dear White People; Step Sisters)
  • Antoinette Robertson (Dear White People)
  • DeRon Horton (Dear White People)
  • Ashley Blaine Featherson (Dear White People)
  • Marque Richardson (Dear White People; Step Sisters)
  • Hayley Law (Altered Carbon; Riverdale)
  • Rev Run (All About The Washingtons)
  • Justine Simmons (All About The Washingtons)
  • Dawn Porter (Bobby Kennedy for President)
  • Kat Graham (The Holiday Calendar; How It Ends)
  • Quincy Brown (The Holiday Calendar)
  • Sydelle Noel (GLOW)
  • Britney Young (GLOW)
  • Kia Stevens (GLOW)
  • DeRay Davis (How To Act Black)
  • Sierra Capri (On My Block)
  • Brett Gray (On My Block)
  • Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black)
  • Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black)
  • Alisha Boe (13 Resons Why)
  • Samantha Logan (13 Reasons Why)
  • Ajiona Alexus (13 Reasons Why
  • Derek Luke (13 Reasons Why)
  • Steven Silver (13 Reasons Why)
  • Yance Ford (Strong Island)
  • Kano (Top Boy)
  • Marlon Wayans (Naked; Woke-ish)
  • Rapsody (Rapture)
  • Sacha Jenkins (Rapture)

Source: https://blackamericaweb.com/2018/06/24/ava-duvernay-spike-lee-more-recreate-iconic-great-day-in-harlem-portrait/

Oprah Winfrey to be Honored by The National Museum of African American History and Culture With Exclusive Exhibit Opening Friday

Oprah Winfrey at the National Museum of African American History and Culture (photo via cbsnews.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Come Friday, we can all watch the seeds of the future, stand-alone Oprah Winfrey Museum be sown.

Opening June 8 and running through June 2019, the “Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show and American Culture” exclusive exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture will, according to The Washington Post, feature video clips, interview segments, movie costumes, and personal photographs and journals to explore what has influenced Winfrey and how her work has shaped America.

“What’s interesting is the same way America thought about Walter Cronkite — you could trust Walter Cronkite and his opinion — they trust Oprah,” said museum director Lonnie G. Bunch III. “An African American woman becomes the person America turns to.”

Winfrey donated $12 million to the $540 million museum as it was being built, making her its largest individual benefactor (its theater is named in her honor). But her role as benefactor did not influence the exhibition, Bunch said. “We made sure there was a bright line, that this was done by the museum and museum scholars,” he said. “The fundraising was not through Oprah’s people.”

Curators Rhea L. Combs and Kathleen Kendrick worked with Winfrey and her staff on arranging loans for the exhibition and on fact-checking and background information. “In terms of content and narrative and the way the story is told, it’s the museum’s product,” Kendrick said. “The way we approached it was the way we approach all of our exhibitions.”

The exhibit balances Winfrey’s humble personal story with her achievements. “We’re providing a context for understanding not only who she is, but how she became a global figure, and how she is connected to broader stories and themes,” Kendrick said.

The first section of the show, which is in the Special Exhibitions gallery, explores Winfrey’s childhood and early career and how the cultural shifts of the 1950s and 1960s informed her worldview.

“Civil rights, the women’s movement, the media and television landscape, she’s at this distinct intersection of all of these dynamic moments,” Combs said. “She becomes someone at the forefront of dealing with ideas, of discussing hot-button topics like racism and sexual orientation.”

The middle section looks at the 25-year run of the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” the highest-rated talk show in U.S. television history. Using artifacts from Winfrey’s Harpo Studios in Chicago, where the show was filmed, this section focuses on its evolution, its variety of subject matter and guests, and its reach into social issues such as racism and equality.

“She used television as a social medium, convening conversations and creating these interactive experiences with people,” Kendrick said. “She’s offering lessons for living, social guidance in a way.”

The third section looks at Winfrey’s role as cultural influencer and tastemaker in the movies she has made (“The Color Purple,” “Beloved,” “The Butler”) the books she promoted in her television book club and her philanthropic work.

The timing of the high-profile exhibition was planned to coincide with the last quarter of the African American Museum’s second year, when officials expected a drop in attendance. Instead crowds are regularly at capacity and timed passes to enter are still required. Since opening Sept. 24, 2016, the museum has welcomed 3.8 million visitors, making it one of the most popular Washington D.C. attractions.

“I really thought after the first year it’d be business as usual, so at the end of the second year I’d do something to give it visibility,” Bunch said. “I didn’t anticipate we’d have the same crush of crowds.”

Bunch said he hopes the exhibition will encourage visitors to think about what Winfrey has represented over the years.

“There are so many issues, about women, power, media, body image,” he said. “This should be a popular show because of the impact of this person, but it is also a show that allows us to think about what it means that a woman who doesn’t fit the TV look could build a media empire and become an entrepreneur.”