The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) celebrates National Jazz Appreciation Month and Poetry Month in April with special digital offerings highlighting African Americans’ contributions to today’s jazz and poetry landscape. Five celebrated African American poets are highlighted: Lucille Clifton, Sarah Elizabeth Wright, Amanda Gorman, Ntozake Shange and NMAAHC Director Kevin Young through NMAAHC’s The Power of Poetry Blog Series.

Other?virtual programming highlights?include a conversation with NPR’s Michel Martin and artists discussing the works they have created during the COVID-19 pandemic and nearly a year of social justice protests launched by the death of George Floyd, as well as a panel discussion exploring the history of African American men in gospel music and a virtual conversation with 1960s’ Freedom Rider Charles Person.

NMAAHC’s?April Jazz and Poetry Social Media?Campaign
The public can follow the museum on social media to celebrate National Jazz Appreciation Month and Poetry Month to explore the role both art forms have played in telling—and developing—the African American story. NMAAHC’s social media channels will offer jazz compositions and poems by notable African American artists, including Amanda Gorman, Maya Angelou and others. The public can test their knowledge with a Q&A and learn more by following @NMAAHC?on?Twitter,?Facebook and?Instagram.?

The Power of Poetry Blog Series
During National Poetry Month, the museum is debuting a new poetry blog series covering African American poetry dating to the 1700s. The series shows how poetry has revealed the aspirations, resilience and vibrancy of African Americans. Featured artists include Lucille Clifton, Sarah Elizabeth Wright, Amanda Gorman, Ntozake Shange and NMAAHC Director Kevin Young. Young is an award-winning author of 13 books of poetry and prose; he also is the poetry editor of the New Yorker and host of its poetry podcast. More information about featured African American artists and poetry’s impact on African American culture is available at https://nmaahc.si.edu/blog/series/power-poetry.

Joyful ABC Kids Activity Book Series—Fourth Release (K, L, M, N)
Monday,?April 5
The Joyful Kids ABC Activity Book series invites caregivers and educators to support children’s positive identity development while also growing their language and literacy skills with activities, museum objects and new?words.?Each Joyful activity booklet gives participating adults insight into children’s developmental stages, age-appropriate play, art activities and opportunities to look closely at museum objects. The latest series of activity booklets can be downloaded at https://nmaahc.si.edu/learn/early-childhood/joyful-abc-activity-books.

Poetry Workshop: Ode Poetry + Harriet Tubman
Wednesday, April 7; 12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m.
In this workshop, participants will look at examples of odes and spend time composing an individual work based on Harriet Tubman. An ode is a poem that praises an individual, an idea or an event. International slam poetry champion Anthony McPherson will lead the workshop. McPherson’s work incorporates various art forms and a myriad of character impressions to address race, art and his own biracial identity. He has appeared on Button PoetryHuffPost and Upworthy. His first viral poem, “All Lives Matter: 1800s Edition,” has received more than 10 million views online. Admission is free; however, registration is required?at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming.

NMAAHC Kids: Joyful Fridays?
Fridays only April 9–30; 11 a.m.– 11:45 a.m.??
Joyful?Fridays?welcome children each Friday in?April?to create art that celebrates black joy, history and culture. This program is inspired by the museum’s Joyful ABC’s activity book series, which features activities, museum objects, and new words based on characteristics featured in the book, A is for All the Things You Are: A Joyful ABC Book.To prepare for the activity, registered participants will receive a list of accessible supplies needed, recommended books and links to online resources in the museum’s early-childhood Learning Lab collections. The materials will be distributed via email on the Monday before each program. This program is for children ages 4 through 8. Admission is free; however, registration is required?at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming.

Meditation Mondays?
Monday, April 12 and 26;?12:30 p.m.–1:15 p.m.??
In this virtual program, participants will contemplate the journey of black Americans toward liberation through meditation. During the 45-minute guided sessions, attendees will have an opportunity to reflect on their liberation and discuss the meaning of freedom. Meditation and yoga instructor Ericka Phillips will lead the sessions. No experience, equipment or special clothing is necessary. Admission is free; however, registration is required?at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming.

Poetry Workshop: Persona Poetry + Benjamin Banneker
Wednesday, April 14; 12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m.
In this workshop, participants will look at examples of persona poems and spend time composing an individual work based on Benjamin Banneker. A persona poem is a poem created from the point of view of the speaker. International slam poetry champion Anthony McPherson will lead the workshop. McPherson’s work incorporates various art forms and a myriad of character impressions to address race, art and his own biracial identity. He has appeared on Button Poetry, HuffPost and Upworthy. His first viral poem, “All Lives Matter: 1800s Edition,” has received more than 10 million views online. Admission is free; however, registration is required?at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming.

Artful Observations?
Wednesday,?April 14 and 28; 4 p.m.–5 p.m.?
Through guided exercises that look closely at paintings and photographs, the?Artful Observations?program?encourages?critical thinking and careful observation. Each session will focus on one work from NMAAHC’s visual-art collections. Guided by a NMAAHC educator, participants will spend an hour examining the work in detail and end with a period of sharing their discoveries.?No formal art or art history training is required. Admission is free; however, registration is required?at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming.

Fire and Desire: A Conversation on Black Men in Gospel Music
Saturday, April 17; 7 p.m.–9 p.m.
Organized around the book by Alisha Lola Jones, Ph.D., Flaming?: The Peculiar Theo-Politics of Fire and Desire in Black Male Gospel Performance, this panel discussion, moderated by Teddy R. Reeves, NMAAHC’s curator of religion, examines the various ways male gospel musicians traverse tightly knit social networks to negotiate and renegotiate identities. Panelists include Jones; Melvin Butler, Ph.D., University of Miami; Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder, City of Refuge, UCC; Dwandalyn Reece, Ph.D., curator of music and performing arts at NMAAHC; and Kevin Taylor, senior pastor at Unity Fellowship Church. Admission is free; however, registration is required?at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming.

Historically Speaking: Art in the Time of a Pandemic
Tuesday, April 20; 7 p.m.–8:30 p.m. In this moderated discussion, the museum brings together a group of artists to discuss the impact of the past year’s twin pandemics on their work: COVID 19 and racial unrest. The panel of artists, moderated by Michel Martin, host of NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered, will focus on how these artists have risen to the challenge of shuttered performance spaces and have used their art to uplift diverse voices, bring solace and spark discussion about current issues. This panel includes artists Robert Battle, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Raymond O. Caldwell, producing artistic director of the Theater Alliance; Tony Mobley, photojournalist; and Ebony Tolliver, comedian, host/MC and the producer of LikeDat Productions. Admission is free; however, registration is required?at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming.

Poetry Workshop: Pastoral Poetry + The Highwaymen
Wednesday, April 21; 12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m. In this workshop, participants will look at examples of pastoral poems and spend time composing an individual work based on The Highwaymen’s artwork. Pastoral poetry is known for exploring the relationship between humans and nature. International slam poetry champion Anthony McPherson will lead the workshop. McPherson’s work incorporates various art forms and a myriad of character impressions to address race, art and his own biracial identity. He has appeared on Button PoetryHuffPost and Upworthy. His first viral poem, “All Lives Matter: 1800s Edition,” has received more than 10 million views online. Admission is free; however, registration is required at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming.

Poetry Workshop: Ekphrastic Poetry + Angela Davis
Wednesday, April 28; 12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m.
Participants can deepen their NMAAHC collection experience and let it inspire their writing in this virtual ekphrastic poetry workshop. Ekphrastic poetry responds to a work of visual art—generally a painting, sculpture or photograph. During the workshop, attendees will look at examples of ekphrastic poems and spend time composing an individual work based on Angela Davis. International slam poetry champion Anthony McPherson will lead the workshop. McPherson’s work incorporates various art forms and a myriad of character impressions to address race, art and his own biracial identity. He has appeared on Button PoetryHuffPost and Upworthy. His first viral poem, “All Lives Matter: 1800s Edition,” has received more than 10 million views online. Admission is free; however, registration is required at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming.

Historically Speaking: Buses Are a Comin’: A Conversation with Freedom Rider Charles Person
Thursday, April 29; 7 p.m.–8 p.m.
Freedom Rider and author Charles Person discuss his new book, Buses Are a Comin’: Memoir of a Freedom Rider, which provides a personal view of the U.S. civil rights movement in America.At 18, Person was the youngest of the 13 people who boarded two buses in Washington, D.C., to head to New Orleans in the spring of 1961. Among those 13—seven blacks and six whites—was John Lewis, who was elected to Congress in 1987 and served until his death in 2020. This group set out to discover whether America would abide by a Supreme Court decision that ruled segregation unconstitutional in interstate travel, bus depots, restaurants and restrooms nationwide. When Person’s bus arrived in Anniston, Alabama, the riders refused the driver’s order to move to the back of the bus. Person and three others were beaten by Klansmen and dragged to the back of the bus. Person’s story provides a roadmap from a teenager of a previous era to the young people of today on how to become agents of transformation. Admission is free; however, registration is required at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming.

Artists at Home: School Outreach
Multiple dates throughout April
This school semester, NMAAHC offers a digital, interactive art program for teachers and their students in grades 3–8. “Artists at Home” is designed to engage students in hands-on art making and conversations about African American artists and different visual art genres. Led by an NMAAHC educator, each hour-long session will focus on a unique visual artist and encourage discussion around their work. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in a hands-on art project using household materials. Admission is free; however, registration is required at https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming. 

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 million visitors. 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, follow @NMAAHC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or call Smithsonian information at (202) 633-1000.? 


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