John E. Fleming joined the museum profession in 1980 as the founding director of the National Afro-American Museum and as a senior staff member of the Ohio Historical Society. He is the former director of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and the Cincinnati Museum Center. He served as the president of the Ohio Museums Association, the Association of African American Museums, and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. He served on numerous committees of the American Association of Museums including on the Executive Committee. He was director of the International African American Museum in Charleston and senior consultant for the development of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson. Currently he is the director of the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville. He is a graduate of Berea College where he serves on the Board Trustees. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Howard University. He was awarded distinguished service awards from Berea College, The National Peace Corps, the Association of African American Museums, and the AASLH.