The Omicron Eta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. pose for a photograph with Smithsonian Assistant Secretary for Education and Access Claudine K. Brown, Anacostia Community Museum Director Camille Akeju, keynote speaker Harry E. Johnson, Sr., BlackGivesBack.com founder Tracey Webb, and others during the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum's 27th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Program.
On Friday, January 13th, the Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum held its annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Program to a standing room only crowd at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. The featured speaker for the program was Harry E. Johnson Sr., president and CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation. I had the honor of serving as the moderator for the Q&A discussion following his keynote, and I’d like to thank the wonderful staff of the museum, Maria N. Smith and Jenelle Cooper Tolson for the invitation!
The program began with a rousing step performance from the Omicron Eta Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the fraternity to which King belonged. Johnson began his engaging keynote by sharing that the vision for the memorial was birthed from five Alpha fraternity brothers while sitting at a kitchen table. A few highlights from his keynote included the challenges he initially encountered in raising the funds needed to build the memorial, the controversy surrounding the choice of a Chinese sculptor, and the acknowledgment of Robert Stanton in the audience, who was the first African American director of the National Park Service. (Listen to Johnson’s keynote here).Under Johnson's leadership, the foundation raised the $120 million needed to complete the memorial, which garnered support from all living Presidents, Congress, corporate and nonprofit communities and celebrities.
The Omicron Eta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
During the Q&A session, one of the questions I asked Mr. Johnson was among the major contributors, who were the prominent African American donors? In addition to the generous gift from philanthropist Sheila Johnson, he mentioned Victor MacFarlane, a real estate investor who donated $1 million through his investment company, MacFarlane Partners. Johnson shared that it didn’t worry him about who didn’t donate to the memorial, for it was “all of the people who donated $5 and $10 that made a million.”
The Anacostia Community Museum was opened in southeast Washington in 1967 as the nation's first federally funded neighborhood museum. Renamed in 2006, it has expanded its focus beyond African American culture to documenting, interpreting and collecting objects related to the impact of historical and contemporary social issues on communities. Visit the website for information on upcoming programs and exhibitions at anacostia.si.edu. Photos courtesy of Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum