Organizations Seek Proposals for Shifting Narratives Symposium

The African American Museum, NPS, and Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of African American History and Culture will collaborate on the 2016 symposium.

The year 2016 is a celebratory year for the convening partners of “Shifting Narratives: Rethinking the Past to Understand the Present.” The African American Museum in Philadelphia (celebrating their 40th Anniversary), the National Park Service (celebrating their 100th birthday), and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (which opened its doors in summer 2015) in Washington D.C. will collaborate on the symposium to be hosted on April 16, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (with registration beginning at 9 a.m.) at the African American Museum.

Particularly inspired by conversations around the Black Lives Matter movement, the spate of police violence against African Americans and other people of color, the violence set within African American churches (including the historic and activist Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC), and reinvigorated conversations around the removal of the Confederate flag from government structures, the conversation will focus on the roles of the public’s institutions (museums, schools, historic sites, etc.) in helping to put these moments and events into context, particularly given that historical interpretation has often left out the voices of people of color.

Some potential topics are as follows:

  • Has your institution attempted programming or exhibits related to recent events referenced earlier in this RFP? Tell us about your successes, challenges and lessons learned.
  • Do you hope to launch a program or partnership addressing current event in relation to the needs of your local community? What will it look like? What steps have you taken in your planning process and how will you measure success?
  • Is your organization working to re-examine how you tell stories in order to include often unheard voices – particularly those of people of color – or considering new sources and new perspectives for historical narratives that did not previously value racial or ethnic diversity? What has challenged or excited you?

A presentation submission must include a 1 page description of your proposal, a CV or resume describing your relevant research experience, 2 photographs of relevant materials, and responses to a set list of questions. All proposals are due November 1, 2015.

Any questions can be emailed to

A full description of proposals and symposium information can be found here.

From: African American Museum