Northwest African American Museum Inspires Local Youth Through Education and Partnerships

By LaNesha DeBardelaben, President & CEO, Northwest African American Museum

The Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) works to spread knowledge, understanding, and enjoyment of the histories, arts and cultures of African Americans in the Northwest for the enrichment of all.

At the heart of the African American experience in the Northwest is the story of our journey to this region, the establishment of our vibrant community, and the ways in which we have survived. To tell this ever-unfolding story, NAAM develops exhibits and programs that feature the visual arts, music, crafts, literature, and history of Black culture that have had an indelible impact on what Seattle is today. NAAM is committed to celebrating and uplifting Black voices 365 days of the year.

Youth Programs We are Proud to Offer this Year

NAAM is a leader in offering programs for the next generation of young leaders so they understand the history of Seattle’s Black community. We believe youth education drives change and prepares young people to take control of their future so they can make a lasting, positive change in our society.

Even in the face of a global pandemic, we have continued to pursue this mission by offering enriching virtual and outdoor programming to help teach children about the world today and provide some hope for a better tomorrow.

For example, this year both our “Think Big” and “It Takes A Village” event series are helping to educate kids and their families on the impact of COVID-19. On March 13, we will host a combined event about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which will be an opportunity to explain the science behind what a virus is and how vaccines are created.

We are also excited to partner with the Seattle Opera to host A Night at the Opera: Celebrating Black Voiceson Saturday, March 20. This drive-in movie concert will offer an affordable, family-friendly opportunity for the community to celebrate Black history with performances from contemporary, Black artists.Tickets can be purchased online, and the concert will take place in the parking lot of The Museum of Flight.

NAAM is also proud to continue to offer our virtual, Interactive Storytime events on the second Sunday of every month at 1 p.m.Viewers can tune in via NAAM’s YouTube page to view all previous and upcoming story times.

The Power of Community Support

One of the ways we can provide these and other programs is through support and contributions from our greater community. Whether it’s through donations, membership, or sponsorship for programs like our Knowledge is Power Book Giveaway, which distributes free African American children’s books to K-12 students, we both rely on and contribute to the local community.

A great example of this community support is a partnership we recently developed with Comcast Washington and its Black Employee Network. We are working with this local and passionate group to support two of our most noteworthy programs. The Comcast group is supporting the Knowledge is Power Book Giveaway by providing funding to help purchase books and develop digital events.

The Comcast Black Employee Network is also supporting our annual Youth Curator program. Since NAAM’s inception in 2008, the museum has offered this program to engage high school students and help them discover the art and science of museum curation. Through the Youth Curator program, students work with curators, writers, artists, technology experts, and filmmakers who guide them in bringing history alive based on specific themes. This year, the Comcast team will join us as virtual mentors and offer their technical expertise and support to our latest cohort.

Corporate partnerships like these help us find new opportunities to engage more people and spread our message. They also help us make sure we can continue to positively impact the community, even during difficult times.

Join NAAM as a Local Corporate or Community Partner

In Seattle, major corporations and technology companies have a large presence. They also have an opportunity to do a lot of good for those in need and to support important programs and organizations working to uplift communities.

The more businesses can work with organizations like NAAM and engage in grassroots partnerships that directly impact the community, the more power it will bring to supporting issues like social justice and equality in the Black community, and all communities of color.

While we are making great progress, there is more work to be done. I welcome any organization interested in getting involved to reach out and start a conversation about how we may be able to work together.

Visit NAAM’s website to learn how you can get involved and make a difference today at www.naamnw.org.

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