The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. has commissioned Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald to paint Barack and Michelle Obama’s portraits, respectively, the Wall Street Journal reports. Both portraits will be unveiled next year when they are added to the museum’s collection.
Wiley is known for Old Masters–style portraits of contemporary black sitters. He has occasionally discussed the positive impact Barack Obama’s presidency had on artists creating images of non-white sitters. “The reality of Barack Obama being the president of the United States—quite possibly the most powerful nation in the world—means that the image of power is completely new for an entire generation of not only black American kids, but every population group in this nation,” he told BBC News in 2012.
The Baltimore-based Amy Sherald, who paints minimalist pictures of black Americans is less well-known than Wiley. She has had two shows with Monique Meloche Gallery, and next year will have a solo exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.
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.
LeBron James is donating $2.5 million to support a Muhammad Ali exhibit at the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., the basketball star and the museum announced on Thursday.
The Cleveland Cavaliers forward said he was a longtime fan of Ali, one of the most beloved sports figures in history, who died on June 3 after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s syndrome. “Every professional athlete, regardless of race and gender, owes a huge debt of gratitude to Muhammad Ali,” James said in a statement. “His legacy deserves to be studied and revered by every generation.”
The “Muhammad Ali: A Force for Change” exhibit features items from the late boxer, including a training robe worn at Dundee’s Fifth Street Gym in Miami. While the exhibit details Ali’s sports journey, it also highlights his community activism, spirituality and politics.
“We are extremely grateful to LeBron James,” said Damion Thomas, curator of the museum’s Sports Gallery. “As the most socially active superstar in sports today, LeBron James is a testament to the influence of Muhammad Ali (who) embodied the racial and social tumult of his times, blurring lines between politics and sports, activism and entertainment.”
James’ business partner, Maverick Carter, is also contributing to the exhibit, which has been on display since the museum opened on Sept. 24.
The funds will also support the museum itself, which is located on the National Mall.
In anticipation of its opening on September 24, the National Museum of African American History and Culture has launched a one-day giving campaign today, September 13th, to celebrate this momentous milestone for our nation and the African American community and to help ensure our future for all who follow.
We at GBN donated and signed up to aid this Giving Day effort, and will be posting and tweeting intermittently to help raise awareness and donations for NMAAHC. If you’d also like to go beyond donating, you too can sign up to become a Giving Day Champion in celebration of a museum that tells a more complete story of America.
Simply click the link above to join and reach out to your network of friends and share the story of this amazing Museum. NMAAHC provides all the tools you need to spread the word about the Museum and this giving opportunity.
Thank you and let’s continue to share this amazing story of the African American experience with our nation and the world for generations to come.
Now all Mr. Bunch and a team of colleagues had to do was find an unprecedented number of private donors willing to finance a public museum. They had to secure hundreds of millions of additional dollars from a Congress, Republican controlled, that had long fought the project.
And they had to counter efforts to locate the museum not at the center of Washington’s cultural landscape on the National Mall, but several blocks offstage. “I knew it was going to be hard, but not how hard it was going to be,” Mr. Bunch, 63, said in an interview last month.
In less than three weeks, though, with President Obama presiding, the new museum, a project that once thirsted for money, land and political support, is scheduled to open on the Mall.
Visitors to the $540 million building, designed to resemble a three-tiered crown, will encounter the sweeping history of black America from the Middle Passage of slavery to the achievements and complexities of modern black life.
But also compelling is the story of how the museum itself came to be through a combination of negotiation, diplomacy, persistence and cunning political instincts. The strategy included an approach that framed the museum as an institution for all Americans, one that depicted the black experience, as Mr. Bunch often puts it, as “the quintessential American story” of measured progress and remarkable achievement after an ugly period of painful oppression.
The tactics included the appointment of Republicans like Laura Bush and Colin L. Powell to the museum’s board to broaden bipartisan support beyond Democratic constituencies, and there were critical efforts to shape the thinking of essential political leaders.
Long before its building was complete, for example, the museum staged exhibitions off-site, some on the fraught topics it would confront, such as Thomas Jefferson’s deep involvement with slavery. A Virginia delegation of congressional members was brought through for an early tour of the Jefferson exhibition, which featured a statue of him in front of a semicircular wall marked with 612 names of people he had owned. “I remember being very impacted,” said Eric Cantor, then the House Republican leader, who was part of the delegation.
Mr. Bunch said that he hoped the Jefferson exhibition pre-empted criticism by establishing the museum’s bold but balanced approach to difficult material. “Some people were like, ‘How dare you equate Jefferson with slavery,’” he recalled. “But it means that people are going to say, ‘Of course, that is what they have to do.’”
According to reports, Jordan has donated $5 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture Museum. Officials revealed that the gift is the largest from a sports figure to the 19th Smithsonian museum and pushes private donations to $278 million. Including federal aid, the museum, which President Obama will open in September, has raised more than $548 million.
The NBA legend said in a statement, “I am grateful for the opportunity to support this museum. I also am indebted to the historic contributions of community leaders and athletes such as Jesse Owens, whose talent, commitment and perseverance broke racial barriers and laid the groundwork for the successful careers of so many African Americans in athletics and beyond.”
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.”
J Dilla was only 32 years old when he died in 2006, but in his too-short life, the prolific producer worked with hip-hop icons including Busta Rhymes, Erykah Badu, The Roots, De la Soul, Common, and A Tribe Called Quest, even earning a Grammy nomination for his work with Tribe. And now, another honor for the late Detroit beatmaker: His recording equipment will be featured in the Smithsonian.
At the ninth DC Loves Dilla tribute concert on Thursday night, Dilla’s mom, Maureen Yancey, announced onstage that she would donate her son’s custom Minamoog Voyager — one of the last synthesizers Bob Moog built for someone before he died in 2005 — and his MPC to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“I feel it’s necessary to raise the level of art appreciation in the hip-hop sector and honor my son James Dewitt Yancey, one of the most influential individuals in the history of hip-hop,” Dilla’s mom said in a Smithsonian press release announcing the donation.
Below, watch Yancey announce the donation at the benefit concert, which raises money to battle lupus, a disease that might have played a part in Dilla’s early death.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History wants the hooded sweatshirt Trayvon Martin was wearing when he was shot and killed. The 17-year-old was shot and killed on his way home by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder and pleaded not guilty, arguing self defense.
On July 13th, Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges by a Florida jury. The hoodie Martin was wearing on the night of his death became a symbol for protesters and Martin family supporters. Lonnie Bunch, the museum’s director, confirmed to The Washington Times that they are seeking the hoodie for display following the Department of Justice’s investigation.
“It became the symbolic way to talk the Trayvon Martin case. It’s rare that you get one artifact that really becomes the symbol,” Bunch told The Washington Times. “Because it’s such a symbol, it would allow you to talk about race in the age of Obama.”
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is set to open in 2015.