The NMAAHC, A Podcast and Word Warrior

The big day is almost here. The intriguing, touching, and massive National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) officially opens its doors this Saturday, September 24th.   I hope you’ll visit this truly fascinating museum that has generated unprecedented support and anticipation.

But if you’re unable to make it to Washington DC’s National Mall for NMAAHC’s inaugural weekend, never fear. The Smithsonian Institution makes sure that its museums stay open almost every day of the year (except for major holidays like Christmas and New Years or unpredictable emergencies).

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And if you’re a book lover, I’m happy to report that my book Word Warrior will be on sale in the NMAAHC’s museum shop starting this Saturday. Talk about excited!

If you’re interested in a brief preview of the book or to hear about my background, click here (pick program #7 on iTunes) or click here for NPR’s podcast directory (choose program #008; August 10, 2016).  This interview was featured on Spectrum, a podcast hosted by Ohio University’s WOUB Public Media General Manager and Director, Tom Hodson.

Thanks for listening and I hope to see you on the National Mall!

 


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IDA B., RICHARD D. & THE NEWEST SMITHSONIAN MUSEUM

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The quote in the photo above from pioneering Black journalist and civil rights advocate Ida B. Wells (1862-1931) is just one of the many quotes featured on the walls and display cases of the soon-to-be opened National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, DC.  More than 100 years in the making, this museum will officially invite visitors to enjoy its treasures starting on Saturday, September 24, 2016. Fittingly, the NMAAHC is located on the National Mall, in the shadow of the Washington Monument and across the street from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

Through her prolific newspaper articles and opinionated editorials, Ida B. Wells sought to eliminate lynching and racial inequality. She is just one of the many women and men whose stories, accomplishments and/or artifacts are featured in the NMAAHC.  In honor of Wells’ legacy and the museum’s historic grand opening weekend, WAMU-FM’s The Big Broadcast radio series will air a half-hour drama about Wells written by another pioneer – African American broadcast dramatist Richard Durham (1917-1984).

Durham’s dramatization of Wells life, titled “Woman With a Mission,” features a professional cast that included Chicago-based actors Oscar Brown Jr., Weslyn Tilden and Fred Pinkard. And it was one of Durham’s favorite scripts.

So mark your calenders. You can hear this fascinating drama, on WAMU’s The Big Broadcast, Sunday, Sept. 25tstarting at 7pm. If you live in the Washington DC metropolitan area, tune to 88.5 FM. Or your can listen online from September 25th through October 2nd at http://wamu.org/programs/the_big_broadcast

Enjoy!


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Revolution and an Audiophile

In this month’s edition of HNet, Michigan State University’s Humanities and Social Science Online publication, Morgan State University scholar Ida Jones reviewed my book Word Warrior.

In her spirited critique titled “The Revolution Will Be An Audiophile,” Jones indicated that “early black radio broadcasts in the community were an essential staple of modern communication….after the rise and domination of the black press, black radio provided common ground for intergenerational discourse, played our music, and/or served as a virtual platform for aspiring and established preachers, singers, and dramatists.”

th-1She went on to note that Word Warrior “rightly situates” the late writer/dramatist Richard Durham “within the tradition of black communication and black radio, reaching back to his antecedents who assumed the significant cultural role of the griot-educator-activist.”

Jones called Word Warrior “an engrossing, at times poetic excavation of one man’sdealing with life and learning as an African American man. Durham answered the call to arms through the artistry of storytelling, advocacy, agency, and learning. He swirled those elements together throughout his inquisitive life.”

Savor Ida Jones’ entire review by clicking here.


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A Historic Museum Moment & A Birthday Recognition

Every calendar month, regardless of the year, decade or century, shepherds in its own joyous and heart-wrenching moments.

September is no exception.

This month regularly calls to children and adults of all ages to start or settle into a new school year. Its Labor Day marks the unofficial end to relaxed summer living and the beginning of more spirited fall days. And September is the month that four young African American girls senselessly lost their lives in a racially motivated 1963 Birmingham church bombing, while approximately 3,000 Americans of all races and backgrounds died in plane-fueled terrorist attacks on this month’s 11th day in 2001.

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September 2016 will provide its own unique milestone. Years in the making, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) will open its doors on Washington DC’s National Mall this September 24th. This museum promises to illuminate the Black American experience in all its innovation, pain and progress.

NMAAHC Director Lonnie Bunch III says that the museum will tell “the quintessential American story.” While that story may be based in a specific culture, Bunch maintains that it is everyone’s story. In that declaration, Bunch echoes the sentiments of pioneering and award-winning African American writer/dramatist Richard Durham – born 99 years ago this September 6th.

Back in the late 1940s, Richard Durham believed that the Black American experience represented a microcosm of “the human condition of the main body of people in the world.” In Durham’s view, oppression combined with poverty, inadequate education and health care, adversely affected most of the world’s population. Therefore, he said, the story of Blacks in America would resonate with millions of people who “also want to uproot poverty and prejudice.”

Based on this philosophy, Durham created compelling dramas, newspaper articles and other media about African American heroes and heroines like Harriet Tubman, W.E.B. DuBois, Mary Church Terrell and Muhammad Ali. The artifacts of many similarly notable men and women will be featured in the NMAAHC.

So why not join me in celebrating Richard Durham’s 99th birthday and the highly anticipated birth of the Smithsonian’s newest museum by visiting Washington, DC’s National Mall this month? And to read more about Director Lonnie Bunch’s journey to make the NMAAHC a reality, click here.


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