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Media Release

Smithsonian and Woodrow Wilson Center Present the "Revisiting Our Black Mosaic" Symposium Sept. 19

The issues raised and the progress since the 1994 Anacostia Community Museum's landmark exhibition "Black Mosaic: Community, Race, and Ethnicity among Black Immigrants in Washington, D.C." is the focus of the daylong symposium, "Revisiting Our Black Mosaic" Friday, Sept 19. The symposium is co-sponsored with the Woodrow Wilson Center and being held at the center, which is located at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

"We are proud to have pioneered this groundbreaking work 20 years ago that still has so much resonance today," said Camille Giraud Akeju, director of the Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum. "This dynamic relationship with the Woodrow Wilson Center is significant in our effort to review and expand upon this work in relationship to current affairs."

Portia James, the museum's supervisory curator and curator of "Black Mosaic," and Blair Ruble, vice president of programs at the Woodrow Wilson Center, will provide overview and context for the symposium that brings together scholars and experts presenting on areas including the African diaspora, African American and Latino studies, urban planning and sustainability, immigration, coalition building, racial justice, labor, gentrification, art and education.

Organized by Ariana Curtis, the museum's curator of Latino studies, the symposium includes six panels in which presenters will address changes in the local and national contexts occurring in the 20 years since the exhibition including stark demographic shifts in Washington. The more than 170 registrants have selected three among the six panels to attend:

  • Representing Diaspora and Diverse Blackness in Museology
  • Where International Becomes Local: Immigration in the D.C. Metro Area
  • The Black Mosaic of Washington, D.C.: Unpacking Multiple "Black" Identities
  • Black-Brown Coalition Building
  • Educating the Diaspora: Turning Diverse Realities into Pedagogy
  • Chocolate City No More: Changing Demographics and Gentrification of Washington, D.C.

Included among the 26 prominent panelists are Ginetta E.B. Candelario, Smith College; Bill Fletcher Jr., American Federation of Government Employees; Patricia Foxen, National Council of La Raza; Pedro A. Noguera, New York University and E. Carmen Ramos, Smithsonian American Art Museum. Audrey Singer, senior fellow, Brookings Institution, is the luncheon keynote speaker.

"Black Mosaic" was the first documentation/exhibition project to examine the perceptions and realities of race, nationality and ethnicity of Black urban immigrants. It presented the personal stories of African-descendant immigrants from Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean who made their homes in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area and challenged conventional notions about African Americans. This symposium bridges past research with current initiatives based on the museum's expanded mission to focus on contemporary urban issues affecting communities broadly. Also partnering on the symposium are the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture; Smithsonian Latino Center; the Smithsonian's Consortia for Understanding the American Experience and Valuing World Cultures.

Established in 1967, the Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum focuses on examining the impact of contemporary social issues on urban communities. For more information, call (202) 633-4820; for tours, call (202) 633-4844. Website:

Media Only:
Marcia Baird Burris (202) 633-4876; (202) 320-1735 (cell)

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Note: Interested media should RSVP to the number/email above.