Ford to Donate $1M to Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture

The car company announced on July 4 that it will donate $1 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is expected to open in 2016 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  

The National Museum of African American History and Culture

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Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture received a major show of support from the Ford Motor Co. on July 4.

Smithsonian and Ford mutually announced the $1 million endowment at the 20th anniversary of the Essence Festival in New Orleans, with the Twitter hashtag #fordgivesback.

Once the museum—spanning a 5-acre plot on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.—opens its doors in 2016, it will be the foremost home for all things related to African-American culture and history.

Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of the museum, said of the endowment in a Ford press release, “We recognize this as a vote of confidence. It’s a genuine honor to have the company join us in our commitment to bring the nation’s capital a truly innovative cultural resource—one capable of telling a richer and fuller story of the development of this country.”

The gift, which comes from Ford’s philanthropic wing, will support the 400,000-square-foot museum’s capital campaign and key programs.

The donation reaffirms the motor company’s century-long support of African Americans, Ford said in its statement. It hired its first African-American employee in 1914 and less than a decade later became the largest employer of African Americans in the entire automotive industry.

Ford’s relationship with the Smithsonian goes back four decades, encompassing $11.5 million in support of educational opportunities for families through exhibitions and programming, the company said.

The museum is currently under construction, but Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is showing a preview of what’s in store with the exhibits “Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863” and “March on Washington, 1963,” through Sept. 7.

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