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September 27, 2016 / Rebekah Seder, Editor

“One Very Powerful Episode”

By Tamara Lucas Copeland
President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

When Lonnie Bunch, director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, spoke to the philanthropic community as part of WRAG’s 2013 Brightest Minds series, he said, “The March on Washington was just one, very powerful, episode in a struggle that has gone on for centuries.”

With this past weekend’s opening of the much-awaited National Museum of African American History and Culture, we have one more powerful episode, but there is an important, noteworthy difference. This isn’t a one-time episode, but a perpetual and evolving chronicle and celebration of the contributions of African-Americans to America.

I don’t know how many people were on the Mall on Saturday or Sunday, but people looked different and I heard different languages. People smiled and clenched fists, not in anger, but in solidarity, as representatives from the judicial, legislative, and executive branches of our government acknowledged the vital importance of this new museum.

When Lonnie Bunch closed his remarks to the WRAG community in October 2013, he told us that helping the public understand the rich history of the black experience in America and how it informs today’s society is an important function not just of the NMAAHC, but of philanthropy as well. We heard his charge. Thank you, Mr. Bunch. Your presentation was one very powerful episode that put WRAG on the road to Putting Racism on the Table.

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