This month the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is going back to the yard to celebrate the history, impact and legacy of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Across NMAAHC’s media platforms, stories focusing on critical aspects of the development of the HBCU experience and their foundation and origins will be amplified. The museum will uplift the culture and the traditions passed down between generations of those who have and will attend HBCUs on its newly created HBCU webpage, including stories from scholars, community members and alums of HBCUs with unique experiences.
October programming also features celebrating LGBT History Month. Throughout the month, the museum will highlight stories of LGBTQIA+ African Americans. The museum will host its annual Speakeasy Evening, featuring a panel discussion about Ballroom and Beyond with icons Tracey “Africa” Norman, Rayceen Pendarvis and Kevin Aviance. There will also be an evening dance party featuring award-winning DJ MIM with commentary and comedy by trailblazing entertainer Sampson McCormick.
Highlights of October In-Person and Virtual Programs
A Speakeasy Evening: Tell Your Story! (program is designed for participants ages 13–24)
Friday, Oct. 14; 6 p.m.
This live in-person program invites visitors to participate in a lively discussion with staff from Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders, an organization designed to empower LGBTQ+ youth, and special guest Twiggy Pucci Garçon, chief program officer at True Colors United and choreographer for POSE. Museum staff from The Community Curation Program will be available to record visitors’ stories to include in the museum’s online community collection. This program is for participants ages 13 through 24. Admission is free; however, registration is required.
A Speakeasy Evening: Welcome Home!
Friday, Oct. 14; 7:30 p.m. (in person in the museum’s Heritage Hall)
The museum will host its annual Speakeasy Evening, which will be in person for the first time in three years. Inspired by the Speakeasy clubs of the Harlem Renaissance, which were welcoming and inclusive places for the African American LGBTQ+ community, the event invites all gender identities and orientations to attend an evening of camaraderie, comedy, dance, music and art making. Highlights of the evening include music by DJ MIM, an award-winning multi-genre DJ who spins an eclectic mix. Commentary and comedy will be provided by Sampson McCormick, an award-winning comedian, trailblazer, actor, writer and film producer. There will be a moderated panel discussion about Ballroom and Beyond with icons Tracey “Africa” Norman, Rayceen Pendarvis and Kevin Aviance. The program is intended for ages 17 and up. Admission is free; however, registration is required.
Digital Treasures: Daufuskie Island and Beyond!
Thursday, Oct. 20; 2 p.m.–5 p.m. (virtual)
The public is invited to join the latest installment of Digital Treasures and explore the resiliency and preservation of Gullah Geechee heritage. The culturally rich program explores the beauty of Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, and surrounding Gullah communities. Attendees will be able to experience a Ring Shout performance, a quilting circle, historic tours, a virtual Expo Hall and a traditional Gullah meal all from the comfort of their homes. Registration is available beginning Oct. 6 through the museum website.
Historically Speaking: Exploring Diversity in the Fields of Genomics and Biomedical Sciences Thursday, Oct. 20; 7 p.m. (In person in the Oprah Winfrey Theater and streaming)
In the latest installment of the Historically Speaking series, the museum in collaboration with the National Human Genome Research Institute, will explore the experiences of renowned African American biomedical researchers and physicians. Shaniqua McClendon of Crooked Media will moderate a panel with senior researchers affiliated with the National Institutes of Health. Neil Hanchard, April Adams and Shawneequa Callier will discuss why they chose a career in medicine, recount their experiences with mentors, discuss the barriers they overcame in their career and share how they promote more diversity in the field of medicine. Admission is free; however, registration is required.
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.