Tag: Lonnie Bunch

Henrietta Lacks, “The Mother of Modern Science,” to be Honored with Painting by Kadir Nelson in National Portrait Gallery

Collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift from Kadir Nelson and the JKBN Group LLC. (image via nmaahc.si.edu)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to the Smithsonian Institute, next Tuesday, its National Portrait Gallery will recognize and honor the life of Henrietta Lacks with the installation of a 2017 portrait by Kadir Nelson on the museum’s presentation wall on the first floor. The portrait was jointly acquired by the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture as a gift from Nelson and the JKBN Group LLC, and will be shared by the two museums. The painting will be on display at the Portrait Gallery through Nov. 4.

Lacks, a mother of five, lost her life to cervical cancer at age 31. During her treatment, doctors took cells from her body and discovered they lived long lives and reproduced indefinitely in test tubes. These “immortal” HeLa cells have since contributed to over 10,000 medical patents, aiding research and benefiting patients with polio, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease and other conditions.

Considering the history of medical testing on African Americans without their permission, the fate of Lacks raised questions about ethics, privacy and racism. Rebecca Skloot’s 2010 best-selling book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, addressed those issues and later prompted Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions to adapt her story into a theatrical movie that first aired on HBO in 2017.

“It is fitting that Henrietta Lacks be honored at two Smithsonian museums, as each approaches American history from unique and complementary perspectives,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery. “Lacks’ story presents moral and philosophical questions around issues of consent, racial inequalities, the role of women, medical research and privacy laws, providing rich platforms for historical understanding and public dialogue.”

“The National Museum of African American History and Culture has always felt that the story of Henrietta Lacks is a significant and important moment that deserved greater recognition,” said Lonnie Bunch, director of the museum.

Commissioned by HBO, Nelson used visual elements to convey Lacks’ legacy. The wallpaper features the “Flower of Life,” a symbol of immortality; the flowers on her dress recall images of cell structures; and two missing buttons allude to the cells taken from her body without permission.

NFL QB and Activist Colin Kaepernick to have Memorabilia Featured at National Museum of African American History and Culture

Colin Kaepernick (photo via Getty Images)

by thegrio.com

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is already looking to include Colin Kaepernick in it halls. Director Lonnie Bunch reached out to sociologist Harry Edwards as the museum was being developed, and Edwards was part of the game-changers exhibit featuring famous black sports stars and their impact on the world. To that end, Edwards recently donated a collection of Kaepernick’s memorabilia to the museum, suggesting that they should put up an exhibit featuring Kaepernick sooner than later.

“I said, ‘Don’t wait 50 years to try to get some memorabilia and so forth on Kaepernick,’ ” Edwards told USA TODAY Sports. “ ‘Let me give you a game jersey, some shoes, a picture … And it should be put right there alongside Muhammad Ali. He’s this generation’s Ali.’ ”

Kaepernick was rocketed to nationwide attention when he decided to take a knee during he national anthem in protest of the state of race relations in the United States, a decision that prompted a wave of similar protests across the country.

To read more, go to: Colin Kaepernick memorabilia to be featured at the Smithsonian | theGrio

Baptist Church in Virginia Pledges $1M to Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture

Alfred Street Baptist Church members
Alfred Street Pastor Howard-John Wesley with James McNeil, Board of Trustees, Chair and Pat Johnson, Deacon Chair

Alexandria, VA — In the final days of 2015, Alfred Street Baptist Church (ASBC), one of the nation’s oldest historically African American churches located in Alexandria, Virginia, announced that it is pledging to donate $1 million to the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).

As such, the $1 million donation to the museum is the largest from a faith-based organization to date, thus allowing the church to be designated as a founding donor of the museum.

Scheduled to open in the fall of 2016 on the National Mall in Washington, DC adjacent to the Washington Monument, the museum will be a place where visitors can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience, what it means to the lives of the American people, and how it helped shape this nation.

Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, the esteemed pastor of Alfred Street Baptist Church said:

“We are very proud and honored to make this contribution to a museum that promises to contribute immensely to the knowledge base of African American history and culture.

This historic attraction will be an astounding and visionary force in our communities and lives for decades to come. More importantly, we as a church, understand the importance of learning about the accomplishments of African American people. Therefore, we realize that if we don’t tell and preserve our own history, our children will never know their real value.”

Accepting the donation on behalf of the Smithsonian’s NMAAHC was Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the museum, who said, “We are honored to have the support of Alfred Street Baptist Church, an institution that has generously served its community for more than 200 years and whose support will help ensure that the museum fulfills its mission to tell the American story through an African American lens.”

James McNeil, chairman of the Board of Trustees of Alfred Street Baptist Church, continued:

“We are pleased to be the first faith-based organization to contribute $1 million to this magnificent cultural development. I challenge others in the faith-based community to follow suit to ensure that the history of African Americans will be celebrated and shared with everyone regardless of their background. The story of our country’s greatness cannot be told without sharing how we live and work together to help America thrive.”

Continue reading “Baptist Church in Virginia Pledges $1M to Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture”

National Museum of African-American History and Culture To Become Five-Story Screen to Show 3D “Commemorate and Celebrate Freedom” Video Nov. 16-18

NMAAHC
The completed building of the National Museum of African American History and Culture will be transformed into a lively display one year before it opens. (National Museum of African American History and Culture)

When the sun goes down each evening between November 16 and 18, the museum’s south exterior, facing Madison Drive, and its west exterior, on 15th Street near the Washington Monument, will be illuminated by a seven-minute video, entitled “Commemorate and Celebrate Freedom.” Produced by the renowned filmmakers Stanley J. Nelson and Marcia Smith of Firelight Media, and animated by Quixotic Entertainment, the video projection will transform the museum into a five-story, block-long 3D canvas, according to museum officials.

“What we wanted to do was to metaphorically have the museum speak even before we open next year,” says Kinshasha Holman Conwill, deputy director of the museum.

“And the signal design element for our building is the corona: the three-tiered bronze colored element that has references in African sculpture and African American life and that identifies this building as something unique on the Mall. So to project on to that façade really gave us that opportunity to make the museum speak.”

The display, which the museum’s director Lonnie Bunch has called a “dynamic event,” will be accompanied by a soundtrack of historical music and spoken word, and will pay tribute to three significant moments in history: the culmination of the Civil War with the surrender at Appomattox on April 8, 1865; ratification of the 13th Amendment, which officially ended the institution of slavery on December 5, 1865; and the passage of the Voting Rights Act on August 6, 1965.

“One of the things that [the film connects] to is the notion and the vision that the museum would be a place for those who already revel in African American history and culture,” says Conwill. “But most importantly,” she adds that the museum seeks to also provide a unique “lens into what it means to be an American and that those milestones in American history, as viewed through that lens, really amplifies that notion.”

On its opening night, November 16, the state-of-the-art digital projection imagery will also be accompanied by a live, outdoor program, produced and directed by Ricardo Khan, former artistic director of the Tony Award-winning Crossroads Theatre Co. Actor Erik Todd Dellums will serve as master of the ceremonies, which will include remarks by other dignitaries, including Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser; and U.S. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton.

Continue reading “National Museum of African-American History and Culture To Become Five-Story Screen to Show 3D “Commemorate and Celebrate Freedom” Video Nov. 16-18”

National Museum of African American History to Display Photos of the Gullah People

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Miss Bertha, 1977 (JEANNE MOUTOUSSAMY-ASHE/NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE)

The collection is haunting: black-and-white stills of another place from another time, a documentation of the Gullah, or Geechee, people—a population of African descendants living on the Sea Islands off the Eastern coastline.  The images of a place and a people that time forgot were captured by celebrated photographer Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe—the wife of renowned tennis player Arthur Ashe—between 1977 and 1981.

Bank of America donated the collection of more than 60 photos to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The photographs center on the people and life of Daufuskie Island, a cultural and national treasure tucked away off the coast of South Carolina.

A “time capsule” is how the island was aptly described by Lonnie Bunch, the museum’s founding director, who is thrilled at the addition to the yet-to-be-finished museum.  In addition to the stunning collection, which Bank of America originally obtained through its acquisition of Merrill Lynch in 2007, the financial institution also donated $1 million toward the building of the museum, a $500 million project.

“We’ve had a great history with the [museum]. We were one of the first donors [and have a] long-standing partnership,” Bank of America spokeswoman Diane Wagner told The Root. “[The collection] seemed like a very natural fit to be donated to the museum as one of their key exhibitions once they open in 2015.

“We feel that the arts have the power to connect people and … can connect people across cultures, across geography and socioeconomic status … People can take a look at art and understand a different culture, or they can understand their heritage, where they come from and how they’ve been established,” she added. Continue reading “National Museum of African American History to Display Photos of the Gullah People”

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
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