In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is offering virtual programs for all ages centered on women’s history and influence. The museum will feature a book discussion with author Tomiko Brown-Nagin focused on Civil Rights Queen, the first major biography of Constance Baker Motley, an activist lawyer who became the first Black woman appointed to the federal judiciary and one of the nation’s most influential judges.
The museum will also host a film discussion featuring Unapologetic, a POV documentary directed by Ashley O’Shay that follows abolitionists Janaé Bonsu and Bella BAHHS into the world of queer feminist activism, beginning with efforts to seek justice for the murder of Rekia Boyd in 2012.
This month marks the bicentennial birth of Harriet Tubman, abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor. Tubman’s story, impact, and influence in American life can be seen across several exhibitions in the museum. Beginning in the “Slavery and Freedom” exhibition, the public can view her handkerchief and hymnal and see her apron in the museum’s “Make Good the Promises: Reconstruction and Its Legacies” exhibition. They can conclude their journey with a contemporary piece in the museum’s latest exhibition “Reckoning: Protest. Defiance. Resilience.,” which displays Bisa Butler’s quilted portrait of a young Harriet Tubman titled “I Go to Prepare a Place for You.” From home, the public can view several newly digitized objects and stories on the museum’s website and learn more about Tubman’s legacy through its Searchable Museum website.
Other programming during March includes a book conversation with Michelle Coles on her debut book, Black Was the Ink, which follows a present-day teen who is transported back in time and learns firsthand through the eyes of his ancestor about African American political leaders who fought for change during the Reconstruction period.
During Women’s History Month, NMAAHC’s social media channels will begin their award-winning social campaign #HiddenHerstory, which highlights the lesser-known stories and impact of African American women. This year, the campaign spotlights women in the arts, particularly those from the past and across different disciplines of art juxtaposed with their contemporaries, connecting the past to the present. The public can follow @NMAAHC on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to view this year’s #HiddenHerstory campaign.
March Virtual Programming Schedule
NMAAHC’s Award-winning #HiddenHerstory Campaign: Women in the Arts
During Women’s History Month, the public can follow the museum on social media with the hashtag #HiddenHerstory. The museum will focus on women in the arts, highlighting women from the past across different disciplines of art juxtaposed with their contemporaries, connecting the past to the present. The public can view this year’s #HiddenHerstory social media campaign by following @NMAAHC on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Black Was the Ink with author Michelle Coles: Using Fiction to Investigate Reconstruction and Its Legacies.
Tuesday, March 1; 6 p.m. ET
In this virtual conversation, author Michelle Coles discusses her debut release, Black Was the Ink. Black was the Ink is a story about a present-day teen who learns a very important lesson about the era of Reconstruction and applies it to his contemporary life. During this conversation, Coles will dialogue with educator Sarah Elwell on representation in student-age literature and why the history of Reconstruction is important in people’s understanding of the present. Registration is required. This book talk is presented in support of the NMAAHC exhibition “Make Good the Promises: Reconstruction and Its Legacies.” Registration is required.
STEM Workshop: Inside the Mind of Margaret Collins, ‘The Termite Lady’
Tuesday, March 8; 4 p.m.–6 p.m. ET
During this free virtual workshop, participants will use the research notebook of Margaret Collins to examine termites’ ecological relationships both inside and outside of their bodies. Known as the ‘Termite Lady,’ Collins received her doctorate in entomology and was the first African American woman entomologist. During her career, she traveled the globe to study termites, identified a new species of termite, and served as an instructor and researcher at multiple organizations in Washington, D.C. Through all her research and travel, she remained committed to the civil rights movement in the 1950s and ’60s.
Workshop participants will use Smithsonian digital resources such as the SI Transcription Center and Collins’ research experiences to learn how scientists gather and interpret data and investigate ecological connections. This workshop will be held virtually and will have a prerecorded and live component. Participants who complete the workshop live will be eligible to receive four hours of teacher professional development credit. Registration is required.
NMAAHC Kids: Classroom Connections
March 8, 10, 22 and 24; 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 classes. Led by a NMAAHC educator, each 45-minute session per school class includes engaging conversations about history and objects from the museum collection, an interactive story time and an art project. Each class will receive a list of accessible supplies needed for the session. The programs are free; however, registration is required.
Digital Docent Roundtable: “Reckoning: Protest. Defiance. Resilience.”
Monday, March 14; 1 p.m.–2:15 p.m. ET
A panel of museum docents discuss their favorite works of art in one of the museum’s latest exhibitions, “Reckoning: Protest. Defiance. Resilience.,” and share reflections that range from defiance to resilience, grief to mourning and hope to change. The exhibition is a testament to how artists and photographers use their voices to pay tribute to those lost, lifting up names such as Eric Garner, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at demonstrations and in communities online. The program can be viewed on the museum’s UStream page.
Through the African American Lens: Attica
Tuesday, March 15; 7 p.m.–8 p.m. ET
In this dynamic panel discussion, the public can learn about the history and creation of ATTICA, a powerful film by Emmy Award-winning director Stanley Nelson and co-director Traci A. Curry about the largest prison riot in American history. In 1971, a prison rebellion erupted at Attica Correctional Facility, with inmates taking 39 guards hostage and presenting a list of demands. Though most of their demands were met, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered state police to regain control of the facility in what would become one of the most violent acts of citizen conflict since the Civil War. Offered by Showtime, the documentary includes archival footage from media coverage, closed-circuit video from inside the prison and firsthand accounts from those present during the riot. Nelson, Curry and James Asbury, who was an inmate at Attica Correctional Facility when the riot occurred, will convene to discuss the film as a call for prison reform and the responsibilities of justice. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, ATTICA is available to view courtesy of Showtime. Registration is recommended.
Sharing Your Story: Navigating the Community Curation Platform with Maya Rhodan
Wednesday, March 16; 12 p.m.–1 p.m. ET
In this program, Maya Rhodan of the museum’s Robert F. Smith Center discusses the Community Curation Platform, where museum visitors (in-person or online) can share their personal and community stories, images, videos and reflections. This interactive conversation will introduce the platform and show how to use it to collect and share family memories. Rhodan serves as the digital content producer for the museum’s Center for the Digitization and Curation of African American History. Registration is recommended.
Through the African American Lens: Unapologetic
Monday, March 21; 7 p.m.–8 p.m. ET
The museum will host a panel discussion of Unapologetic, a POV documentary directed by Ashley O’Shay and produced by O’Shay and Morgan Elise Johnson that gives voice to the dynamism and impact of women activists charging the Movement for Black Lives. Based in Chicago, the film follows abolitionists Janaé Bonsu and Bella BAHHS into the world of queer feminist activism, beginning with efforts to seek justice for the murder of Rekia Boyd in 2012. The film also spotlights the work of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a flagship figure in the modern civil rights movement. Panelists will include O’Shay, Johnson, Bonsu and BAHHS. Unapologetic is free to stream on PBS through the end of February. Registration is recommended.
Historically Speaking: Civil Rights Queen by Tomiko Brown-Nagin
Tuesday, March 29; 7 p.m.–8 p.m. ET
The public can listen to a virtual conversation between NPR’s Michel Martin; Tomiko Brown-Nagin, dean of Harvard Radcliffe Institute; and Daniel P.S. Paul, professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, about her acclaimed biography of Constance Baker Motley, Civil Rights Queen. This book is the first major profile of Motley, an activist lawyer who became the first Black woman appointed to the federal judiciary and one of the United States’ most influential judges. Brown-Nagin’s text offers an insightful account of the twin struggles for gender equality and civil rights in the 20th century. Books will be available for purchase via Smithsonian Enterprises. Registration is recommended.
2022 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert
Thursday, March 31; 10:30 p.m. ET
The National Endowment for the Arts will honor the 2022 NEA Jazz Masters including Stanley Clarke, Billy Hart, Cassandra Wilson, and Donald Harrison Jr.—in a tribute concert, held in collaboration with SFJAZZ. The concert will be live-streamed at arts.gov and sfjazz.org and will also be available to view on the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s website. Registration is recommended.
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 and follow @NMAAHC on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or call Smithsonian information at (202) 633-1000.