BCN Staff – Aug. 23, 2021 — Backed by a $25 million grant from Bank of America, the Smithsonian Institute will kick off its new race initiative this week with a virtual forum on Aug. 26.
The initiative, called “Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past,” will bring together resources from across the Smithsonian to explore how Americans understand, experience and confront racism through several critical lenses like wellness, wealth and the arts. The museum-led event will include virtual and live events across the country as well as digital content, storytelling and learning resources for students and educators.
Using the Smithsonian’s vast resources and expertise in history, art, science and culture, the initiative will convene conversations about race and racism across the country, exploring all races in America and how Americans experience race through six main themes: Race and Wellness; Race and Wealth; Race and Place; Race, Policy and Ethics; Race Beyond the U.S.; and Race, Arts and Aesthetics. The race initiative will invite the public to join the conversation through website response prompts, and it will offer opportunities for the public to self-produce programs to engage in conversations in their own communities using downloadable resources available on the initiative website.
Leaders, collections and programming from the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Smithsonian Latino Center, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, the National Museum of American History, other Smithsonian museums and centers, and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative will be engaged in this project.
“At this pivotal moment in history, we need to talk openly about the complexities of race and the effects of racism that continue to touch all aspects of American society,” said Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III, Secretary of the Smithsonian. “‘Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past’ is an important way for us to encourage that conversation. This initiative continues the Smithsonian’s 175-year tradition of using its unique content to help all Americans seek a better shared future, one that embraces everyone and continues us on a more diverse, inclusive path toward being a more perfect union.”
Bank of America’s support of the race initiative, first announced last year through a $25 million commitment, builds on the company’s overall $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to advancing racial equality and economic opportunity in the communities it serves. The company has supported Smithsonian museums and cultural initiatives for more than three decades and is a founding member of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“We recognize the need for meaningful and productive discussions about race and racism in our history and nation today,” said Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America and museum council member for the National Museum of African American History and Culture. “We are proud to partner with the Smithsonian in this effort, and we strongly support conversations and actions that can advance economic and social progress. Now is the time to act and it’s incumbent on all of us to do more.”
Additional support for the initiative has also been provided by Target Corporation, Verizon and Google Arts & Culture.
Our Shared Past programming
Programming for the race initiative, which also kick off on Thursday with national forum, will explore the six key themes through panel discussions, presentations, performances and conversations among Smithsonian experts, industry leaders and community leaders. Additional regional events will be held across the country throughout 2021–2022.
Further, the Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past Forum will be filmed in Los Angeles also on Thursday. The virtual event will be livestreamed free for the public to watch online starting at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. It is produced by DM.Experiential, a new venture from Don Mischer Productions designed for interactive, entertainment-based storytelling.
The forum will focus on race and wealth and race and wellness, exploring the complex systems driving racial inequality in America, from early race science to how racial disparities have been exposed by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Sessions will explore the history and impact of race science; examine the connection between race, health care and wealth; explore the impact of race on mental health and trauma; and highlight local organizations that are reimagining a better future.
For more information on the “Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past” initiative and to watch the livestream of the forum, Thursday, Aug. 26, visit oursharedfuture.si.edu. The website includes interactive components for the public to host their own discussions, and features Smithsonian collections, stories and digital interactives related to the themes of the initiative.
Since its founding in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution has been committed to inspiring generations through knowledge and discovery. It is the world’s largest museum, education and research complex, consisting of 19 museums, the National Zoological Park, education centers, research facilities, cultural centers and libraries. Two new museums—the National Museum of the American Latino and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum—are in development. There are more than 6,300 Smithsonian employees and 5,100 volunteers. The total number of objects, works of art and specimens at the Smithsonian is estimated at nearly 155 million, of which nearly 146 million are scientific specimens at the National Museum of Natural History. www.si.edu
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