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The Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian honor, was awarded posthumously to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King in 2004. They were recognized for their contributions to the nation on behalf of the Civil Rights Movement.

In 2014, Founding Director Lonnie Bunch accepted the gold medal on behalf of the King family at a special ceremony to commemorate the 50th...
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"This is not a black holiday; it is a people's holiday.” - Coretta Scott King

On November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Bill into law after fifteen years of lobby by King's widow, Coretta Scott King. The first official holiday was observed on the third Monday of January in 1986.

Today we honor the life and legacy of one of America’s greatest...
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Our Many Lenses Project explores the significance of artifacts through the eyes of museum staff who collect and preserve objects for the public. To launch Many Lenses, staff from our museum, the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, and the National Museum of American History chose one artifact each to highlight and interpret. By layering one lens upon another, we deepen our...
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#OnThisDay in 1908, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. was founded. It is one of the nine historically African American Greek-letter organizations belonging to the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

On the campus of Howard University, sixteen African American women came together to found an organization dedicated to improving social and economic issues through service to their community. As the...
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“Having to start at the beginning with the 1400s, and with how slavery came about––it brings you back to what you learned in school but in school you don’t learn all of the in depth things that the museum displays. So it’s an eye-opener––it’s definitely touching and it makes you feel a way in certain areas, but at the end of the day it is always great to be able to learn about your history,...
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As you plan to make your way to the nation’s capital during inauguration weekend, the National Museum of African American History and Culture wants to make sure you make the most out of your visit by answering a few commonly asked questions regarding how celebration activities might impact your visit to the museum on Thursday, January 19th; Friday, January 20th; and Saturday, January 21st,...
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#OnThisDay in 1913, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was founded. It is one of the nine historically African American Greek-letter organizations belonging to the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

On the campus of Howard University, twenty-two African American women came together to found an organization dedicated to public service and scholarship. The sorority’s first public act was the Women’s...
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#OnThisDay in 1948, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Sipuel v. Board of Regents of University of Oklahoma that the state must provide equal education to African American students.

On January 14, 1946, Ada Lois Sipuel applied to law school at the University of Oklahoma, with the hope of overturning segregationist policies. When Sipuel was not admitted on the basis of race, she petition...
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Join us for an all-star tribute on ABC Television Network's “Taking the Stage,” a two-hour program of music, dance and spoken word on Thursday, January 12th from 9–11 p.m. EST.

World-renowned dignitaries, athletes and artists from around the globe gathered at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Designed to explore and celebrate African American contributions to the global...
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Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon wins the National Book Critics Circle Award #OnThisDay in 1978.

Song of Solomon is Morrison's third novel, following the publication of The Bluest Eye (1970) and Sula (1973). However, Song of Solomon is considered the novel that gave Morrison national recognition. The novel, like much of Morrison's writing, uses fiction to explore themes of kinship, race and...
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#OnThisDay in 1914, three African American male students founded Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. on the campus of Howard University. It is one of the nine historically African American Greek-letter organizations belonging to the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

In the 20th century African American Greek-letter organizations were founded on college campuses to promote scholarship and community...
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Founder of Black Enterprise magazine and African American entrepreneur Earl G. Graves, Sr. was born #OnThisDay in 1935.

The Brooklyn born philanthropist built a career advocating for resources to aid African American businesses. While serving on the advisory board of the Small Business Administration, Graves created a newsletter to focus on issues and accomplishments relevant to business...
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On the German Coast region of Louisiana, the largest slave insurrection in US history occurred #OnThisDay in 1811.

The uprising is an often overlooked moment of historical significance, as over 500 people took up arms. The armed group first stormed the grounds of plantation owner Manuel Andry, led by Charles Deslondes, and marched 22 miles down River Road toward New Orleans burning...
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Marian Anderson is the first African American soloist to sing at the New York Metropolitan Opera on this day, January 7, 1955.

During her long career, Anderson broke many barriers as an African American opera singer, often denied performance venues due to racial segregation during the mid-twentieth century. Anderson famously sung on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to a...
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“Sometimes I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can anyone deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”

The quote from her 1928 essay, “How it Feels to be Colored Me,” reflects the style anthropologist, folklorist, and novelist Zora Neale Hurston used in her writing to raise attention to racial stereotypes and...
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John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie is remembered for his trademark “Silver Bell” trumpet and “balloon cheeks” when he played.

The composer pioneered the popular subgenre of jazz known as “bebop” in the 1940s, a style of jazz characterized by its complex fast paced tempos and quick chord progressions. He later acquired a new signature when his trumpet was accidentally bent upwards at a 45-degree...
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“I’m supposed to be here to see where we started and to see how––we just should be way more respectful to our ancestors. I think for me, that’s what I saw and it’s just so much to take in. It really really is.

I think you need to spend more than a day here, just like soak up everything that’s inside of here and within our culture. And really realize the strength that we have, how far we’ve...
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#OnThisDay in 1911, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. was founded. It is one of the nine historically African American Greek-letter organizations belonging to the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

On the campus of Indiana University Bloomington, ten African American students came together to found an organization based on academic achievement and community service. The collegiate organization was...
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On Wednesday, January 4, 2017, beginning at 9am EST, Advanced Timed Passes for individual and family visits in April 2017 will be available. Reserve your free Advanced Timed Pass online at nmaahc.si.edu or by calling 866-297-4020.

Same-day, online timed passes can be reserved at 6:30am daily on the museum website: nmaahc.si.edu/sameday

Groups of 10+ can schedule visits one year in advance...
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On September 22, 1862, five days after the Union victory at the Battle of Antietam, Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. He presented the proclamation as a wartime necessity, under his authority as Commander-in-Chief. It ordered that as of January 1, 1863, all enslaved individuals in all areas still in rebellion against the United States “henceforward shall be...
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