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The Northwest African American Museum's Year Of Excellence & Resilience Continues Through December 2021

Programs are designed to uplift Black voices and provide opportunities for audiences to creatively engage with Black history, art, and culture.

The Northwest African American Museum's Year Of Excellence & Resilience Continues Through December 2021

The Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) today announced programming plans for the continuation of its Year of Excellence & Resilience, a celebration of Black achievement that launched this January. The dynamic, virtual and outdoor programs are designed to uplift Black voices and provide opportunities for audiences to creatively engage with Black history, art, and culture. Upcoming program highlights include: a national Juneteenth celebration with museums from across the country; a three-day commemoration of Dr. King's 1961 visit to Seattle, culminating in an evening with Martin Luther King, III; an ongoing lecture series with descendants of famous Black Americans; and the founding of the first gospel choir ever organized by an African American museum.

"Against the backdrop of the most important social justice reckoning in 50 years and a pandemic, our community has endured an enormous amount over the past year," said LaNesha DeBardelaben, President & CEO of NAAM. "In 2021, we realized how vital it was to be a beacon in our community, offering programs and events that celebrate historic and contemporary examples of Black excellence and resiliency. As the year continues, we look forward to highlighting Black achievements of regional and national importance and offering solace and healing."

NAAM kicked off 2021 with a virtual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day program featuring Dr. Eddie Glaude, Jr., and signature Black History Month events, including a drive-in movie concert celebrating Black voices in collaboration with Seattle Opera and Black Futures on Black History with NAAM's Youth Curators (who released their beautiful animation). In March, we partnered with the Pacific Science Center for an important community dialogue with Black doctors about the COVID-19 vaccine and the Black community, hosted the book launch of That They Lived with Rochelle Riley, and hosted a conversation with A'Lelia Bundles, a descendant of America's first Black female millionaire, Madam C.J. Walker. Most recently, NAAM hosted a dynamic conversation with Dr. Cornel West for the "It Takes A Village" series.

This spring, NAAM will launch the African American Cultural Ensemble (ACE), the first African American choir organized and hosted by an African American museum. ACE aims to inspire hope and healing through the Black gospel musical arts. NAAM will present ACE's first concert as part of its virtual Juneteenth program.

NAAM will continue its monthly Year of Excellence & Resilience programming for the remainder of 2021.


May - Celebrating Black Resilience

Each year, NAAM marks the birthday of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, better known as Malcolm X, an American Muslim minister and human rights activist during the civil rights movement. This year's commemoration includes a virtual program with Ilyasah Shabazz, Malcolm X's daughter, and a Malcolm X-themed Knowledge is Power book giveaway on May 19. NAAM's celebration culminates with a drive-up movie showing of Spike Lee's Malcolm X at The Museum of Flight on May 22. NAAM's website also hosts a list of multi-media resources about the mind and life of this revolutionary leader.

June - Celebrating Black Freedom

This Juneteenth (June 19), NAAM will host an outdoor Juneteenth Jamboree. The celebration will feature family-friendly events, including a Knowledge is Power book giveaway, games and art with Seattle Sounders FC, music and dancing with professional sports teams' mascots, and more.

NAAM and nine other African American museums across the country are joining forces to commemorate the 156th anniversary of Juneteenth, a day remembering the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States. Participating institutions include:

  • America's Black Holocaust Museum (Milwaukee, WI)
  • Amistad Research Center at Tulane University (New Orleans, LA)
  • Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (Detroit, MI)
  • California African American Museum (Los Angeles, CA)
  • National Civil Rights Museum (Memphis, TN)
  • August Wilson Center for African American Culture (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • Harvey Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture (Charlotte, NC)
  • Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park (Hilton Head Island, SC)
  • National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (Cincinnati, OH)
  • Northwest African American Museum (Seattle, WA)

You can view last year's virtual Juneteenth celebration on the #blkfreedom website.

July - Celebrating Black Writers

NAAM will host a virtual summer youth camp in partnership with Hugo House. The camp will center the words of Black writers and encourage youth grades 5-12 in their own creative writing.

August - Celebrating Black Educational Excellence

As K-12 students head back to the classroom, NAAM will help them prepare for a successful year of learning and engagement through a stuffed backpack giveaway and by offering free kids haircuts.

September - Celebrating Black Youth and Black Elders

On September 12, the Museum will partner with The Mayor's Council on African American Elders and AARP to celebrate and honor grandparents on National Grandparents Day.

On September 19, NAAM will celebrate the rich legacy and heritage of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Partnering with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., this event will bring attention to HBCUs as premier collegiate options for local middle and high school students and their families.

October - Celebrating Unity

On October 7, we will virtually host our annual Unity Benefit. Last year, thanks to the support of individuals, corporations, and foundations, we collectively raised a record $760,000. To expand our work to advance equity, cultivate educational empowerment, and celebrate Black heritage and the arts, this year we have set an ambitious stretch goal of $1 million. To learn how you can sponsor, donate, and get involved, click here.

November - Celebrating Dr. King's Historic Visit to Seattle

In recognition of Dr. King's 1961 visit to Seattle, NAAM, in collaboration with community, is organizing a three-day commemoration of this momentous occasion, which will take place November 7-9. The capstone of the celebrations will be an evening with Dr. King's son, Martin Luther King, III.

December - Celebrating Black Holiday Tradition

Once again, NAAM will host its beloved annual Black Santa event, when children can take pictures with Santa and take part in seasonal arts and crafts. To close out the year, NAAM will also host its annual Kwanzaa celebration, providing an opportunity for families and the community to come together to reflect and celebrate Nguzo Saba (The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa).

Ongoing Programs

NAAM will continue hosting its acclaimed Descendant Series, which brings history to life through conversations with living descendants of notable African American civil rights figures and activists. In August, Arthur McFarlane II, the great-grandson of W.E.B. Du Bois, co-founder of the NAACP, sociologist, author, scholar, historian, and civil rights activist will share his childhood memories and talk about his ancestor's legacy. In October, the Museum will host the great-great-great grandniece of Harriet Tubman-Tina Martin Wyatt-who will share her family stories about the activist, suffragist, and famous 'conductor' of the Underground Railroad.

NAAM will also continue to host its popular, monthly, youth literacy programs. The Knowledge is Power Book Giveaway provides brand new books to local K-12 children at COVID-safe, family-friendly and school-based youth events throughout the Puget Sound. These NAAM-curated books showcase the rich history and culture of Black Americans and are predominantly written and illustrated by Black authors and illustrators. Interactive Storytime is hosted on NAAM's YouTube channel on the second Sunday of each month at 1pm. Families are invited to tune in to read-along as special guests read culturally-relevant stories.

All NAAM's 2021 Year of Excellence & Resilience programming is currently scheduled to take place virtually or outdoors. The closure of NAAM's physical space in accordance with public health guidelines amid the pandemic has provided an opportunity for us to rethink our visitor experience. When we do reopen our physical space, visitors can look forward to a vibrantly reimagined museum experience.

In the meantime, NAAM continues to serve and engage the community through a robust schedule of innovative virtual and outdoor exhibitions and programs occurring throughout the region, which is detailed on our website at naamnw.org/events.


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