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The Tennessee State Museum hosts a wide range of FREE, fascinating events and educational programs throughout the year. Advance reservations are not required, unless indicated on the listing. For seated events, seats are provided on a first-come, first-served basis.
Established just after the Civil War, Juneteenth is the oldest and most popular day of celebration commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. To mark the occasion in 2020, The Tennessee State Museum presents an online discussion on the ways in which museums can both assist and magnify the voices of Black Americans in efforts to create a more culturally competent nation. This conversation will feature the perspectives of Brigette Jones, Tennessee State Museum curator of social history; Dr. Learotha Williams, Tennessee State University professor of African American and public history; Tamar Smithers, director of education and engagement National Museum of African American Music; and Dr. Noelle Trent, Director of Interpretation, Collections & Education at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.
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Brigette Jones, Tennessee State Museum curator of social history, works to preserve and interpret the vast social histories of the many diverse cultures that inhabit the state of Tennessee, including but not limited to, African American history, Latino history, and Middle Eastern history. Jones is a Memphis native and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2019, she gained certification through the National Association of Interpretation and the Smithsonian Institute: National Museum of African American History and Culture to become an official interpreter of the African American experience. Most recently, she served as Director of African American Studies for the Belle Meade Plantation Museum in Nashville.
Learotha Williams, Jr., PhD. is a scholar of African American, Civil War and Reconstruction, and Public History at Tennessee State University. At TSU, he teaches courses that explore Civil War and Reconstruction history, African Americans in Public Memory, Black Politicians, Civil Rights, 20th Century Black Intellectuals, African Americans in Tennessee, Slavery and Emancipation in Middle Tennessee. Dr. Williams has worked as a Historic Sites Specialist for the State of Florida, acted as coordinator for the African American Studies Program at Armstrong Atlantic State University, and served as a trustee of the Historic Savannah Foundation in Savannah, Georgia. At TSU, he coordinates the North Nashville Heritage Project, an effort that seeks to encourage a greater understanding of the history of North Nashville, including but not limited to Jefferson Street and its historic relationship to the greater Nashville community. He recently completed a book, coedited with Amie Thurber, Portland State University, entitled I’ll Take You There: Nashville Stories of Place, Power, and the Struggle for Social Justice, that will be published with Vanderbilt University Press in Spring 2021. He is also on the board of directors of the Metro Historical Commission Foundation, the Friends of Fort Negley, and Historic Nashville, Inc.
Dr. Williams is a native of Tallahassee, Florida, where he earned his doctorate in history from Florida State University in 2003.
Tamar Smithers is a professional actress, singer, arts administrator and educator. She has over 10 years of experience in the arts administration and higher education fields. As Director of Education and Public Programs for NMAAM she is instrumental in creating culturally specific programs and curriculum for all ages. In this role, she is committed to arts engagement and audience development and oversees all educational programming while developing and fostering relationships with local schools, sponsors, and other non-profit organizations both locally and nationally. Tamar has served as Secretary for the Eastern Great Lakes chapter of the National Guild for Community Arts Education, and currently serves on AAAM’s Membership Committee. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and also a member of Lambda Kappa Mu Sorority, Inc., a business and professional organization. Tamar holds a BFA in Acting from Syracuse University as well as an M.S. in Arts Administration and C.A.S. in Higher Education Leadership from Le Moyne College. She is a community minded person and has a true passion for mentoring and being a positive role model for our youth. Tamar is eager to encourage our young people to believe that no matter what their circumstances may be if they continue to pursue their dreams anything is possible!
Dr. Noelle Trent is the Director of Interpretation, Collections & Education at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee where she oversees its permanent and traveling exhibitions; collections’ donations and acquisitions; education programming and initiatives; collaborates with a variety of partners. In her role, she has presented internationally at the European Solidarity Center in Gdansk, Poland, and at high schools in Warsaw and Sopot, Poland. In 2018, she curated an exhibition and planned the commemorative service for the museum’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, MLK50. Dr. Trent is an accomplished public historian and has worked with several noted organizations and projects including: the National Park Service, the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture where she contributed to the exhibition Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: The Era of Segregation 1876 - 1968. Dr. Trent is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Howard University where she also earned a doctorate in American history.