African American history museum celebrates jazz, poetry

Artwork with the words “We Walk the Way of the New World” is part of a collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture Gift of the Furious Flower Poetry Center, JMU.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture celebrates National Jazz Appreciation Month and Poetry Month in April with special digital offerings highlighting African Americans’ contributions to today’s jazz and poetry landscape. Five celebrated African American poets are highlighted: Lucille Clifton, Sarah Elizabeth Wright, Amanda Gorman, Ntozake Shange and NMAAHC Director Kevin Young through NMAAHC’s The Power of Poetry Blog Series.

Other virtual programming highlights include a conversation with NPR’s Michel Martin and artists discussing the works they have created during the COVID-19 pandemic and nearly a year of social justice protests launched by the death of George Floyd, as well as a panel discussion exploring the history of African American men in gospel music and a virtual conversation with 1960s’ Freedom Rider Charles Person.

The public can follow the museum on social media to celebrate National Jazz Appreciation Month and Poetry Month to explore the role both art forms have played in telling — and developing — the African American story.

During National Poetry Month, the museum is debuting a new poetry blog series covering African American poetry dating to the 1700s. The series shows how poetry has revealed the aspirations, resilience and vibrancy of African Americans. More information about featured African American poets is available at https://nmaahc.si.edu/blog/series/power-poetry.

Since opening in 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture has welcomed more than 7 million. 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.

NMAAHC Kids: Joyful Fridays

Fridays only April 9–30; 11 a.m.– 11:45 a.m.

Joyful Fridays welcome children each Friday in April to create art that celebrates black joy, history and culture. This program is inspired by the museum’s Joyful ABC’s activity book series, which features activities, museum objects and new words. This program is for children ages 4 through 8. Admission is free; however, registration is required at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming.

Meditation Mondays

Monday, April 12 and 26; 12:30 p.m.–1:15 p.m.

In this virtual program, participants will contemplate the journey of black Americans toward liberation through meditation. During the 45-minute guided sessions, attendees will have an opportunity to reflect on their liberation and discuss the meaning of freedom. Admission is free; however, registration is required at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming.

Poetry Workshop: Persona Poetry + Benjamin Banneker

Wednesday, April 14; 12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m.

In this workshop, participants will look at examples of persona poems and spend time composing an individual work based on Benjamin Banneker. A persona poem is a poem created from the point of view of the speaker. International slam poetry champion Anthony McPherson will lead the workshop. McPherson’s work incorporates various art forms and a myriad of character impressions to address race, art and his own biracial identity. Admission is free; however, registration is required at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming.

Artful Observations

Wednesday, April 14 and 28; 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Through guided exercises that look closely at paintings and photographs, the Artful Observations program encourages critical thinking and careful observation. Each session will focus on one work from NMAAHC’s visual-art collections. No formal art or art history training is required. Admission is free; however, registration is required at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming.

Fire and Desire: A Conversation on Black Men in Gospel Music

Saturday, April 17; 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Organized around the book by Alisha Lola Jones, Ph.D., Flaming?: The Peculiar Theo-Politics of Fire and Desire in Black Male Gospel Performance, this panel discussion, moderated by Teddy R. Reeves, NMAAHC’s curator of religion, examines the various ways male gospel musicians traverse tightly knit social networks to negotiate and renegotiate identities. Admission is free; however, registration is required at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming.

Historically Speaking: Art in the Time of a Pandemic

Tuesday, April 20; 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. In this moderated discussion, the museum brings together a group of artists to discuss the impact of the past year’s twin pandemics on their work: COVID 19 and racial unrest. The panel of artists, moderated by Michel Martin, host of NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered, will focus on how these artists have risen to the challenge of shuttered performance spaces and have used their art to uplift diverse voices, bring solace and spark discussion about current issues. Admission is free; however, registration is required at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming.

Poetry Workshop: Pastoral Poetry + The Highwaymen

Wednesday, April 21; 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. In this workshop, participants will look at examples of pastoral poems and spend time composing an individual work based on The Highwaymen’s artwork. Pastoral poetry is known for exploring the relationship between humans and nature. International slam poetry champion Anthony McPherson will lead the workshop. Admission is free; however, registration is required at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming.

Poetry Workshop: Ekphrastic Poetry + Angela Davis

Wednesday, April 28; 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Participants can deepen their NMAAHC collection experience and let it inspire their writing in this virtual ekphrastic poetry workshop. Ekphrastic poetry responds to a work of visual art — generally a painting, sculpture or photograph. During the workshop, attendees will look at examples of ekphrastic poems and spend time composing an individual work based on Angela Davis. International slam poetry champion Anthony McPherson will lead the workshop. Admission is free; however, registration is required at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming.

Historically Speaking: A Conversation with Freedom Rider Charles Person

Thursday, April 29; 7 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Freedom Rider and author Charles Person discuss his new book, “Buses Are a Comin’: Memoir of a Freedom Rider,” which provides a personal view of the U.S. civil rights movement in America. At 18, Person was the youngest of the 13 people who boarded two buses in Washington, D.C., to head to New Orleans in the spring of 1961. Among those 13 was John Lewis, who was elected to Congress in 1987 and served until his death in 2020. Admission is free; however, registration is required at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming.

Artists at Home: School Outreach

Multiple dates throughout April

This school semester, NMAAHC offers a digital, interactive art program for teachers and their students in grades 3–8. “Artists at Home” is designed to engage students in hands-on art making and conversations about African American artists and different visual art genres. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in a hands-on art project using household materials. Admission is free; however, registration is required at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.