LOS ANGELES, CA (February 6, 2017) – The NAACP announced today that historian, author, curator and educator, Lonnie G. Bunch, III will be presented with the NAACP “President’s Award” at the 48th NAACP Image Awards telecast LIVE from 9-11 p.m. ET on February 11 on TV One.
The NAACP “President’s Award,” chosen by NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks, is bestowed in recognition of special achievement and distinguished public service. Past honorees include John Legend, Van Jones, President Bill Clinton, Soledad O’Brien, Ruby Dee, Muhammad Ali, the Founding Members of the Black Stuntmen’s Association, Kerry Washington, and Spike Lee.
“Historian, scholar and author Lonnie G. Bunch III, has secured among the sacred places of the American story, a place of honor for the contributions of African Americans to our nation’s history. As the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), he has helped to amplify stories of our struggles and striving to wrest the shackles of oppression from both body and mind in our undeniable quest to be free,” said Cornell William Brooks, President and CEO, NAACP.
“Dr. Bunch’s relentless work to shine a magnificent light into the incredible American prism of the Black experience from enslaved plantations to the White House mansion, has earned him this year’s NAACP President’s Award. The award bears the name of the NAACP but is invisibly inscribed with the names of Americans of every hue and heritage representing the gratitude of the nation for Dr. Bunch’s efforts.”
Lonnie G. Bunch, III is the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. In this position he is working to set the museum’s mission, coordinate its fundraising and membership campaigns, develop its collections, and establish cultural partnerships. He is designing a high-profile program of traveling exhibitions and public events ranging from panel discussions and seminars to oral history and collecting workshops.
Prior to his July 2005 appointment as director of NMAAHC, Bunch served as the president of the Chicago Historical Society, one of the nation’s oldest museums of history (January 2001-June 2005). There, he initiated an unprecedented outreach initiative to diverse communities and launched a much-applauded exhibition and program on teenage life titled “Teen Chicago.” He also led a successful capital campaign to transform the institution in celebration of its 150th anniversary and managed an institutional reorganization.
Bunch has held several positions at the Smithsonian. As the National Museum of American History’s (NMAH) Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs (1994-2000), he oversaw the curatorial and collections management staff of nearly 200. In addition to leading the curatorial team that developed the major permanent exhibition “American Presidency: A Glorious Burden,” he served as co-author of the exhibition’s companion book by the same name.
While assistant director for curatorial affairs at NMAH (1992-1994), Bunch developed “Smithsonian’s America,” an exhibition that explored the history, culture and diversity of the United States; it was shown in Tokyo, Japan as part of the “American Festival Japan ’94. He also supervised the planning and implementation of the museum’s research and collection agendas. As a supervising curator at NMAH (1989-1992), he oversaw several of the museum’s divisions, including Community Life and Political History.