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Kevin Young named director of National Museum of African American History and Culture

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The Smithsonian has named Kevin Young as director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), effective from January 11, 2021.

Kevin Young is currently director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and will be succeeding founding director Lonnie G Bunch III, who is now secretary of the Smithsonian.

Young, who is a poet, author, essayist and editor, has a new book coming out this autumn called African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song. He is also currently poetry editor at The New Yorker.

He has been director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a research division of the New York Public Library, since 2016.

“Kevin will bring an exciting mix of scholarship, technological savvy and bold vision that builds on the foundational work of the many people who built the museum,” said Bunch.

“As a poet, he understands how the museum fulfilled the dreams of many Americans, and under his leadership the museum will shape the hopes of future generations.”

Young is currently director of the Schomburg Center

kevin young smithsonian
Melanie Dunea

During his time at the Schomburg Center, Young secured several high-profile acquisitions, including the archives of Harry Belafonte, James Baldwin, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Sonny Rollins and Fred ‘Fab 5 Freddy’ Brathwaite.

He also secured the acquisition of the manuscript of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, raised attendance by 40 percent and raised $10 million in grants and donations.

In addition, Young enhanced the profile of the Schomburg Center, developing the ‘Home to Harlem’ initiative, and the new Schomburg Center Literary Festival. He also continued the Black Comic Book Festival.

“I look forward to directing the National Museum of African American History and Culture in this next phase of leadership, after its founding, opening and dynamic exhibitions and events,” said Young.

“Having visited the museum myself with my family, I know what a powerful place it is, transforming visitors both in-person and online, and revealing the centrality of African American culture to the American experience.

“I am eager to engage further directions in the museum’s mission, embracing our digital present and future while furthering conversations around Black history, art, liberation and joy.”

“At this moment in our nation’s history, the National Museum of African American History and Culture is exactly what America needs,” said chair of the museum’s council, Ken Chenault.

“Kevin’s reputation as an innovative leader makes him the ideal person to lead the museum into its next chapter and help us grapple with our racial history.”

Earlier this year, the US House of Representatives approved legislation to establish a National Museum of the American Latino in Washington, DC, as part of the Smithsonian Institution.

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Bea Mitchell

A journalist specialising in entertainment and attractions, Bea loves theme parks (mainly Disney) and is particularly interested in things of a gothic, horror or fantasy nature.

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