The 2020 Annual Meeting was held online on September 24-30.
The 2020 Annual Meeting looked different last year as we gathered online rather than a hotel or convention center. Nevertheless, the AASLH staff and program committee worked hard to carry as much of our original conference programming forward as possible. The flexibility of our online format offered greater relevancy, allowing us to create new sessions that speak to our theme in ways we had not anticipated in the past. The conference addressed questions that are emerging from the pandemic, such as defining what history institutions will look like and how they will operate in and after the recovery. We examined the unique roles that history museums, historic sites, historical societies, and other history organizations, including AASLH, must play in combating systematic racism, which is among the nation’s most deep-seated societal challenges.
What Kind of Ancestor Will You Be? (written prior to the conference)
This question, more relevant now than when it was first selected, remains the theme for the 2020 Online Annual Meeting. Richard Josey, founder and President of Collective Journeys, AASLH Council Member, and Vice Chair of the AASLH Diversity and Inclusion Committee, first posed this question to us at an AASLH 2017 panel on diversity and inclusion in Austin, Texas.
Our role as members of history communities comes with a responsibility to advocate for the unheard and the unseen. Arturo Schomburg, the black Puerto Rican historian, writer, activist, and bibliophile for whom the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is named, was motivated to “stand in the gap” for black people when his schoolteacher told him black people have no history. He went on to build one of the most prolific collections of books detailing the rich history of the continent of Africa and its growing diaspora. His legacy was to confirm the humanity of a people by disrupting the “single story” that still attempts to dehumanize them today.
We have the chance to dislocate dominant culture and tell stories from multiple perspectives by being co-stewards with the communities that we serve in the spirit of equity and inclusion. Our history communities get to provide transformational experiences which allow the world to understand the value of all humanity.
Our sector should strive to be the types of ancestors that changed the course of history by how they stewarded it. What will historians, history professionals, and history lovers say about us? Will they say that our generation was the one to lift the veil of division? Will they say that our generation focused on community interpretation that emphasized bringing proximity to differences as opposed to isolation?
One of our African American ancestors, James Baldwin, said this about history: “History, as nearly no one seems to know, is not merely something to be read. And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it, in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do. It could scarcely be otherwise, since it is to history that we owe our frames of reference, our identities, and our aspirations.”
Our theme is not just a question. It is a clarion call to our professional community to consider our work in the temporal continuum of the past, present, and future. Now ask yourself: “What kind of ancestor will you be?”
Melanie A. Adams is the director of the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum. With more than 25 years of community engagement experience in museums and higher education, she is dedicated to bringing stakeholders together to address relevant community issues. Previously, Adams served as deputy director for learning initiatives, at the Minnesota Historical Society. She led efforts at the society to develop strategic partnerships, audiences, and resources within local communities. As deputy director, she managed 26 historic sites and museums throughout Minnesota. During her tenure, she created the community outreach department to provide partnerships and programs outside the museum walls. Adams was the managing director of the Missouri Historical Society for 11 years (2005–2016) where she oversaw more than 700 St. Louis community programs annually, including events with more than 100 community partners. Her work focused on addressing the cultural and social concerns of the St. Louis community. Adams was president of the Association of Midwest Museums from 2014 to 2016, and she currently serves on the council of the American Association for State and Local History. Adams holds a bachelor’s degree in English/African-American studies from the University of Virginia, a master’s degree in education from the University of Vermont and a doctorate from the University of Missouri St. Louis in educational leadership and policy studies. As a facilitator of workshops on topics related to museums and race, she helps professionals understand barriers to connecting with diverse audiences.
Melanie A. Adams
Janeen Bryant, the founder of Facilitate Movement, has been an advocate and catalyst for building community capacity since 2000. Janeen, as an inter-sectional educator, facilitator and community engagement consultant, has dedicated her work in museums to building capacity for empathetic museum spaces, programs, and experiences. She has been a core member of the Empathetic Museum since its inception in 2013. Ms. Bryant also conceptualized and implemented the Listening Sessions model used by her museum in projects including “Without Sanctuary, LGBTQ Perspectives on Equality” and most notably the Latino New South Project that ultimately became NUEVOlution. As a seasoned facilitator, she helps organizations grapple with issues of race, equality, and social justice related to staffing, programming, and exhibition development. She is active in multiple industry-wide initiatives including Museums and Race and MASS Action. Previously Janeen has consulted with Lower East Side Tenement Museum and the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice. Janeen has worked nationally including but not limited to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York, the Atlanta History Center in Georgia, and as far west as San Diego for the New California Arts Fund. A graduate of Davidson College with a B.A. in Anthropology, she completed her Master of Science degree in Leadership and Management in 2010.
Cassie Chinn is the Deputy Director of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience where she oversees planning and implementation of exhibition, collection, public programming, and education initiatives in collaboration with community members. In her 20 years with the museum, she has worked with numerous community advisory committees and community members to create exhibitions, gather oral histories, and produce other museum projects. She is fourth generation Chinese American from Seattle. She loves listening to the elders in her community talking in Cantonese and Toisanese, reminding her of her own grandma and grandpa. An introvert true and true, she loves listening to people’s stories and sharing in their lives. She holds a BA and MA in art history as well as a Master in Teaching.
Christy S. Coleman (Moderator) has served as the Chief Executive Officer of some of the nation’s most prominent museums with a career spanning over 30 years. She’s a tireless advocate for the power of museums, narrative correction, diversity and inclusiveness. Ms. Coleman is an innovator and leader in the museum field having held leadership roles at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the American Civil War Museum and now the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation. She’s written numerous articles, is an accomplished screenwriter, public speaker and has appeared on several national news and history programs. Most recently, she served as Historical Consultant for the film Harriet and the upcoming Good Lord Bird miniseries. She’s also been a featured public historian for several documentaries, most recently the acclaimed miniseries Grant. Ms. Coleman is the recipient of numerous awards including Honorary Doctorates from The College of William and Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of the South for her decades of impact. In 2018, Time Magazine named her one of the 31 People Changing the South and Worth Magazine named her one of 29 Women Changing the World.
Christy S. Coleman
Dr. Ariana A. Curtis is the first curator of Latinx Studies at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. In this role she leads museum research and collections development related to: U.S. Latinx, U.S. Afro-Latinx, African American & Latinx, African Diaspora, and African American migrations to and engagement with Latin America. She serves as a curatorial advisor to the history exhibition in the Molina Family Latino Galleries, the first permanent Smithsonian exhibition space dedicated to Latinx history and culture. Additionally, Ariana serves on multiple committees for the Smithsonian-wide American Women’s History Initiative, and is a founding member of the academic collective, the Black Latinas Know Collective. Her TED talk about women’s representation has over 2.8 million views. She has published in The Public Historian, the anthology Pan African Spaces: Essays in Black Transnationalism and served as both author and editorial committee member for the publication Smithsonian American Women: Remarkable Objects and Stories of Strength, Ingenuity and Vision from the National Collection. Previously, Ariana was curator of Latino Studies at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum. In addition to leading Latinx-centered public programming, she curated two bilingual exhibitions: Gateways/Portales, which received honorable mention in the 2017 Smithsonian Excellence in Exhibition Awards and Bridging the Americas, which was exhibited in both Washington, D.C. and in Panama City, Panama. She also organized Revisiting Our Black Mosaic, a 2014 symposium about race and immigration in the Washington, D.C. metro area, cosponsored by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Ariana is a Fulbright scholar with a doctorate in Anthropology from American University, an MA in Public Anthropology from American University, and a BA from Duke University.
Dr. Ariana A. Curtis
LaNesha DeBardelaben is Executive Director of the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) in Seattle, Washington. Under her leadership, NAAM is repositioning itself for accelerated growth. Prior, she was Senior Vice President of Education & Exhibitions at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan. Her 15+ year career in museums began at the National Museum of Kenya in Africa in 2001, and she has studied museums and libraries internationally in Ghana, South Africa, England, Germany, and Israel. As a historian and museum director, LaNesha has contributed scholarly writings to national publications. She is currently on the Board of Directors of both the Association of African American Museums (AAAM) and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. She has a Bachelor of Arts in history and secondary education from Kalamazoo College; a Master of Arts in history and museum studies from the University of Missouri in St. Louis; a Master of Library Science in archives management from Indiana University-Bloomington; Master of Arts in Comparative Black History from Michigan State University; and is currently pursuing a PhD.
Fawn Douglas is a member of the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe, where she previously served as a Tribal Councilwoman. She also has roots in the Moapa Paiute, Cheyenne, Pawnee, and Creek Nations. Fawn earned a degree in Global Studies from the College of Southern Nevada and a BA in Art with a Painting and Drawing emphasis from UNLV. At UNLV, she has been involved with the Native American Student Association, American Indian Alliance, and serves as the President of the Native American Alumni Club. Fawn is a community organizer for many issues related to the environment and conservation of Standing Rock, Gold Butte National Monument, and the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. As an artist, Fawn draws from her heritage, and her works include murals and performance. Her work aims to shine a light on race, class, and gender to ask what it means to be Native in the contemporary.
Omar Eaton-Martínez (Interviewer), the 2020 AASLH Annual Meeting Program Chair, leads the Prince George’s County Parks & Recreation Historical Resources, which include historical house museums, an aviation museum, the Black History Program, and archaeological parks. In 2019, he was selected to be an American Alliance of Museums Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion Senior Fellow. Eaton-Martínez is the national board chair for Museum Hue, an arts and humanities organization committed to the advancement of people of color in the field, and he has held a leading role on the steering committee for Museums and Race: Transformation and Justice, a movement to challenge institutional policies and systems that perpetuate oppressions in museums. He has also contributed to the Museum as Site for Social Action project, which seeks to align museums with more inclusive practices. Eaton-Martínez has worked at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, where he managed the interns and fellows program, as well as at the National Park Service, the Office of the National Museum of the American Latino Commission, and NASA. He received a BA from the University of Maryland and is currently pursuing a PhD in American studies there. Eaton-Martínez served as an Exhibitions & Public Interpretation panelist at the Center in 2019.
Julian Hipkins, III serves as the NAF Academy Director at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Washington, D.C. Hipkins earned his Bachelor of Arts in History from Morehouse College and his Master of Arts in Teaching from American University. He lived in Japan for eight years teaching English before returning to Washington, D.C. to teach at Capital City Public Charter School. Hipkins has received numerous awards, including the Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award, George Washington University Jackie Robinson Project Outstanding Teacher Award, and the District of Columbia History Teacher of the Year Award. Hipkins received a Rubenstein Staff Member of the Year award and has been featured in numerous articles and videos.
Julian Hipkins, III
Dr. Joy G. Kinard is the superintendent of Alabama’s Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site and Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail. Kinard’s 20-year NPS career reflects an abiding interest in the preservation and advancement of stories pertinent to African-American and American heritage. She has held multiple leadership roles, including serving as the first superintendent of Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument; a term as National Capital Parks-East central district manager, where she managed the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site, National Archives for Black Women’s History, and Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site, among other units; and assignments as acting chief of interpretation, education, and cultural resource manager at the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site and Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. She also served as a park ranger at various sites in Virginia and Maryland, educating visitors on the stories of prominent figures in American history, including George Washington, Frederick Douglass and Robert E. Lee. A scholar of African-American history and culture, Kinard contributed to the seminal African American National Biography Encyclopedia and published her first book, The Man, The Movement, The Museum: The Journey of John R. Kinard as the First African American Director of a Smithsonian Institution Museum in tribute to her father in 2017. Kinard holds a bachelor’s degree in social work and sociology from Livingstone College and a Master of Arts degree in history and Ph.D. in U.S. history with a minor in public history and Caribbean studies from Howard University. She has also studied race relations abroad in Canada, England, and France.
Dr. Joy G. Kinard
Ashley Minner is a community based visual artist from Baltimore, Maryland, and an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. She received her MFA (’11) and MA (’07) in Community Arts, and her BFA (’05) in General Fine Arts from Maryland Institute College of Art. She recently earned her PhD (‘20) in American Studies at University of Maryland College Park. She works as a professor of the practice and folklorist in the Department of American Studies at University of Maryland Baltimore County, where she also serves as director of the minor in Public Humanities. Her current research focuses on the changing relationship between Baltimore’s Lumbee Indian community and the area where they first settled.
Izetta Autumn Mobley, Ph.D. is a native Washingtonian and graduate of Brown University. She completed her doctoral studies at the University of Maryland, College Park in American Studies. Her research focuses on race, disability, slavery, public history, digital humanities, and material and visual culture. She is a 2020 American Council of Learned Scholars Emerging Voices Fellow at the University of Texas-Austin. She previously served as a lecturer at the Brown University Watson Institute and as faculty for the Brown University in Washington program. She has extensive experience within the cultural sector, working with The Sartje Project, TEDx, Shakespeare Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Arts, Humanities D.C., the Office of Historic Alexandria, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, and the DC History Conference. She is the recipient of the Walter B. Hill Fellowship at the Banneker-Douglass Museum and the Woods Research Fellowship at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Dr. Mobley has served as co-chair for the D.C. History Conference a city-wide conference on the history of Washington, D.C. In 2020, she served as the program committee co-chair for the Association of African American Museums conference. She has written for Covey Magazine, Gender & Society, and the Taubman Museum of Art. Dr. Mobley is a Certified Interpretive Guide and creator of The Site Unseen, which provides tours focused on exploring submerged, neglected, or under-examined history and culture.
Izetta Autumn Mobley, Ph.D.
Patrick Naranjo (Moderator) is the director of the American Indian Graduate Program at the University of California, Berkley. He previously served as the Resource Coordinator for the Intersection, Academic Multicultural Resource Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). In that role, he was instrumental in developing and implementing campus wide strategies to enhance the academic outcomes of students and establish strong Native American engagement. In his role as Native Liaison at the university, Patrick established a long-term foundation for UNLV’s leadership to collaborate with national, regional, and tribal Indian educational initiatives. Patrick is a member of the Santa Clara Pueblo and holds a B.A. from Haskell Indian National University and an M.A. from UCLA in American Indian Studies with an emphasis on contemporary tribal cultural property protections. Patrick has published several articles and continues to transform higher education experiences for Native and Indigenous people through the intersection of Native heritage, academia, and cultural concepts.
Jon Parrish Peede is Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. His previous positions include publisher of the Virginia Quarterly Review (VQR) at the University of Virginia, literature grants director at the National Endowment for the Arts, counselor to NEA Chairman Dana Gioia, director of the NEA Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience program, director of the NEA Big Read program, director of communications at Millsaps College, and editor at Mercer University Press with a focus on the humanities. He has written speeches for a U.S. president, a first lady, and a librarian of Congress. He has served on several nonprofit boards, including the national council of the Margaret Walker Center for the Study of the African-American Experience at Jackson State University. Peede holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Vanderbilt University, and a master’s in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi. He is the coeditor of Inside the Church of Flannery O’Connor: Sacrament, Sacramental, and the Sacred in Her Fiction (Mercer, 2007) and editor of a bilingual anthology of contemporary American fiction (Lo que cuenta el vecino: cuentos contemporáneos de los Estados Unidos [UNUM: Mexico City, 2008]).
Jon Parrish Peede
Jackie Peterson (Moderator) is an independent museum consultant with a focus on exhibit development, curation and writing for history museums, historic sites and other cultural institutions. With over twelve years of exhibits experience, she has worked nationally with museums, communities and stakeholders to uncover and illuminate meaningful stories to create authentic, truthful and enlightening exhibitions. Jackie leverages the power of language and narrative to create exhibitions that attest to the nuances of our human experience, spark conversation and bring people together. Much of Jackie’s independent work has focused on storytelling through exhibitions highlighting the experiences and lives of African Americans in Washington State. Prior to pursuing an independent consulting career, Jackie served as a content developer and coordinator at the exhibition design firm Ralph Appelbaum Associates Inc. in New York. Jackie is passionate about equity in the museum field and grounds her work in the framework of diversity, access, equity and inclusion (DEAI). She serves on the steering committee for Museums & Race, an initiative that seeks equity and justice for people of color in the museum field.
Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez (Moderator), a native son of the American Southwest, is currently a writer, creative strategist and the founding principal of Creative Strategies 360°, which supports transformative work within communities, governments, universities and cultural-based organizations. Prior to this work, he has led a full career as a successful senior executive: Senior Vice President of Historic Sites at the National Trust for Historic Preservation; Executive Director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center; State Historian of New Mexico. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, Dr. Rael-Gálvez received a Ph.D. in American Cultures from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he completed his dissertation, Identifying Captivity and Capturing Identity: Narratives of American Indian Slavery,” focused on the meanings of American Indian slavery and a unique legacy and identity in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.
Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez
Paula Santos is a museum educator, cultural organizer, podcast addict, and lover of everything arts and culture. She has held positions at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Museum, and the Whitney Museum in New York City, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago. Throughout her career, she has focused on creating and advocating for meaningful, equitable museum programming for family and adult audiences. In addition to her museum work, she is the creator, producer, and host of the Cultura Conscious podcast where she converses with other museum and cultural workers, educators, artists, activists, and leaders about how we work with our communities and the public at large. Paula is also a founding member of the Museum Workers Relief Fund. She is a graduate of the Leadership in Museum Education masters program at Bank Street College and earned her B.A. in Art History from Williams College. Currently, she is the Senior Manager of Learning and Engagement at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive Art and Outsider Art in Chicago and an Adjunct Lecturer at Art Institue of Chicago.
Gretchen Sullivan Sorin holds a BA degree from Rutgers University in American Studies, an MA in Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program, and a PhD from Albany University in history. Dr. Sorin has more than thirty years of experience as a museum consultant working for more than 250 museums. She has served as an exhibition guest curator for many exhibitions including the nationally acclaimed traveling exhibition, Bridges and Boundaries: African Americans and American Jews for the Jewish Museum in New York and Wilderness Cure: Tuberculosis and the Adirondacks for the Adirondack Museum. Dr. Sorin writes and lectures frequently on African American history and museum practice. Her books include Touring Historic Harlem, Four Walks in Northern Manhattan with architectural historian Andrew Dolkart, In the Spirit of Martin: The Living Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Through the Eyes of Others: African Americans and Identity in American Art and Case Studies in Cultural Entrepreneurship: How to Create Relevant and Sustainable Institutions.
Gretchen Sullivan Sorin