African Americans at the Smithsonian

According to historian and Smithsonian Institution Secretary Lonnie Bunch “There is nothing more powerful than a people, than a nation, steeped in its history. And there are few things as noble as honoring our ancestors by remembering.” African Americans made lasting if often undervalued contributions to the Smithsonian since its founding in 1846. While the Smithsonian is the repository for history across the US it has also born witness to and been a part of history, including local Washington DC history. DC ended slave trade in 1850 and freed enslaved African Americans in 1862. DC was one of the safer places for African Americans to live during the Civil War, even with the threat of fugitive slave catchers. As time passed, government and Smithsonian jobs gave stable employment. From the first African American employee, Solomon Brown to the current Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch III, African Americans have broken barriers and made lasting contributions.

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