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Smithsonian Launches National Race Initiative

The Smithsonian will kick off its new national race initiative, “Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past,” with a virtual forum August 26th. The initiative 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 initiative brings together resources across the Smithsonian to explore how Americans understand, experience and confront racism and will include: three national forums, regional events, local pop-up events, an online curriculum, and interactive dialogues on social media.

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. The Smithsonian will explore: 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 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 Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past” will include virtual and live events across the country as well as digital content, storytelling and learning resources for students and educators.

Programming for the race initiative will explore the six key themes of the initiative through panel discussions, presentations, performances and conversations among Smithsonian experts, industry leaders and community leaders. Programming will kick off with the national forum August 26th, and additional regional events will be held across the country throughout 2021–2022.

The Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past Forum will be filmed in Los Angeles and livestreamed free for the public to watch online starting at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. 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.

“Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past” is produced by DM.Experiential, a new venture from Don Mischer Productions designed for interactive, entertainment-based storytelling.

For more information on the “Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past” initiative and to watch the livestream of the forum, Thursday, August 26th, 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.

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