Dream a World Anew: The African American Experience and the Shaping of America

Staff Pick

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is here at last. To introduce itself, the long-awaited nineteenth member of the Smithsonian Institution commissioned essays from two dozen leading scholars and writers. These join nearly 280 photos of objects from the museum’s vast collection for the handsome, revelatory Dream a World Anew (Smithsonian, $40). Taking its title from a Langston Hughes poem and closing with Maya Angelou’s injunction to “lift up your hearts,” the book is truly an inspiration—one grounded in several centuries of struggle. Curated by the museum staff under the guidance of editor and deputy director Kinshasha Holman Conwill, Dream traces the experiences of African Americans from slavery to the Civil War, Reconstruction to the Great Migration, the Civil Rights movement to the cultural achievements of today. The photos include familiar faces—Harriet Tubman, Ralph Abernathy, Nina Simone—and introduce new ones—a former slave who sued for freedom and became a millionaire, a decorated World War I hero—along with objects ranging from Nat Turner’s Bible to minstrel show posters to Michael Jackson’s black fedora. The museum’s mission, as founding director Lonnie G. Bunche III states in his introduction, is to show “new audiences…the impact of black history and culture…to centralize the African American experience as a history that has shaped the identity of all Americans”; this book makes an exciting and important contribution to that end.

Dream a World Anew: The African American Experience and the Shaping of America By Nat'l Museum African American Hist/Cult (Editor), Kinshasha Holman Conwill (Editor) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781588345684
Availability: Backordered
Published: Smithsonian Books - September 27th, 2016