By Kristina Gawrgy Campbell
The donor list of the new National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) reads like a who’s who in celebrity and philanthropy and that might not be surprising to most.
But it should be noted just how critical the charitable sector has been in bringing this historical new Smithsonian institution to the American people. As Lonnie G. Bunch, III, founding director of the museum, has stated, “The African American experience is the lens through which we understand what it is to be an American.”
NMAAHC opened September 24 with a ton of fanfare, but there have been individuals and organizations working for years to make that a reality. In fact, millions of dollars have been donated by Independent Sector members including $10 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, $3.5 million from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and $5 million from American Express.
In fact, the museum surpassed its fundraising goal of $270 million in private donations as of June 2016. This sum matches the $270 million appropriated by Congress.
For many of the charitable organizations, supporting this museum is about sharing an appreciation of African American history and culture with everyone, but it is also about improving our nation for future generations.
In a release by W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the organization declared that their support for the museum was about healing our nation.
“Only by understanding our past and the centuries-old belief system that values one race over another can we surface these biases, ensure that all Americans are able to participate equally in the civic and economic life of our country and achieve lasting healing,” the statement read.
The museum will include the painful and hopeful parts of African American history from slavery and Jim Crow to the contributions of scholars, musicians, and other cultural icons. But in the end, this museum is a reflection of the American experience and the charitable sector took a leadership role in making it a reality.
Make the most of your chance to visit the new museum during the Independent Sector Conference opening reception on November 16.
Kristina Gawrgy Campbell is the director of strategic communications & public relations at Independent Sector.