December programming at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture will feature a book discussion exploring the impact of Reconstruction on America’s post-Civil War Black community. Kevin Young, Andrew W. Mellon Director of the museum, leads the discussion with renowned historians Eric Foner and Henry Louis Gates Jr, editors of the Library of America’s reissue of W.E.B. Dubois’ groundbreaking assessment of the Reconstruction era, “Black Reconstruction.” Foner, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author of several books on the Reconstruction, also wrote the foreword to “Make Good the Promises: Reclaiming Reconstruction and its Legacies,” published by NMAAHC as a companion to its current exhibition on Reconstruction.
This discussion will focus on the years following the Civil War when more than four million newly freed African Americans struggled to define themselves as equal citizens—with the right to own land, vote, work for fair wages, build safe communities, educate themselves and rebuild families torn apart by slavery. During this period of reconstruction, African Americans sought to live in a nation that kept the promises laid out in the U.S. Constitution. Some promises were kept, many were broken.
Additional December programming highlights include a virtual Kwanzaa celebration. Beginning Dec. 26, the public can view the museum’s Kwanzaa webpage to learn more about this seven-day celebration of African American culture. Users can find enlightening videos, unique family activities to do at home and special holiday recipes rooted in Black culinary traditions.
Throughout each day of Kwanzaa, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1, visitors can read the museum’s Kwanzaa blogs to learn the meaning of each of the seven Kwanzaa principles: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith).
Poetry also gets spotlighted this month in the museum’s Virtual Typewriter Poetry Pop-Up! With Ars Poetica. Online participants can work with Ars Poetica poets, Akolade Coker, Anthony McPherson and Kearah-Armonie to receive a personalized poem on themes and subjects of their choosing.
December Programming Schedule
Joyful Fridays: Winter Celebrations Edition
Friday, Dec. 3; 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. ET
This session explores the ways families celebrate a variety of winter holidays including Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, and Soyal, the winter solstice ceremony of the Zuni and Hopi peoples. The celebration will begin with an introduction to each holiday tradition, highlighting their differences and similarities. The program is designed for children aged 4-8, but there is no age limit for participants. The program is free. Registration is required.
On French Soil: France Commemorates the Service of African American Soldiers
Friday, Dec. 3; 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET
Throughout the years, the people of France have expressed their appreciation for the service and sacrifice of African American troops in World War I and World War II. This program explores the varied ways the French have honored African American troops and the impact of this relationship on the French cultural landscape. Krewasky Salter, guest curator of the museum’s recent exhibition on World War I, will moderate the program. It features presentations by Andre Rakoto, John Morrow, and Laurence Cossu-Beaumont. This program is free. Registration is required.
Dec. 7 & 9, 14 & 16; 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. and 1:30 to 2:15 p.m. ET
Classroom Connections experiences are live virtual school programs designed for Kindergarten, First and Second Grade students and teachers. Led by a NMAAHC educator, each 45-minute session includes engaging conversations about history and objects from the Museum collection, an interactive story time and an art project. Classroom Connections offers four program themes for teachers to choose. The programs are free. Registration is required.
Historically Speaking: Black Reconstruction — A Conversation Among Eric Foner, Henry Louis Gates & Kevin Young
Wednesday, Dec. 8; 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Kevin Young, NMAAHC’s Andrew W. Mellon Director, moderates a discussion of the Reconstruction era with historians Eric Foner and Henry Louis Gates. Their focus is on W.E.B Du Bois and his groundbreaking assessment of the impact of Reconstruction on America’s post-Civil War Black community. Foner and Gates are co-editors of the Library of America’s reissue of Du Bois’ 1935 book, Black Reconstruction. The programs are free. Registration is required.
Historically Speaking: The Corporate Branding and Cultural Appropriation of Hip Hop
Thursday, Dec. 9; 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET
A distinguished panel of academics, artists, and music industry veterans will discuss hip-hop’s influence in corporate boardrooms, living rooms, fashion runways as well as courtside. The panel will consider the complicated legacy of the co-opting of Black art, style, and innovation and how corporate branding has included hip-hop in strategies to reach a broader range of consumers and markets. Naima Cochrane will moderate a panel conversation with Bill Stephney, Nicole Plantin, Gabriel Allan Tolliver, and Carlton Keith Harrison. This program is free. Registration is required.
NMAAHC Kids Kwanzaa Video Series
Monday, Dec. 20
Celebrate Kwanzaa with a NMAAHC Kids series of educational videos featuring objects from the museum’s collection. Each video teaches a story from Black history and offers activity suggestions inspired by Kwanzaa principles. Videos will feature each of the seven principles (Nguzo Saba) along with a different activity sheet each day of Kwanzaa. Activities include various discussion questions and suggested activities such as art projects, writing prompts, and singing. Activity sheets will be linked in the video descriptions in English and in Spanish. Materials are not required to enjoy or watch the videos. Videos will be available online starting Dec. 20 on the museum’s Kwanzaa webpage.
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 7.5 million in-person visitors and millions more through its digital presence. 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.