December 1-17

Online and In-Person Events

Join us in Los Angeles, Calif., and online for programs that range from symposia and panel discussions to films, food, and family activities.

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A man speaking into a microphone with his back to us and facing an audience.

Reckoning and Reconciliation

Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past is a collaborative, multidisciplinary platform to explore how race has informed each of our lives, regardless of our individual racial or ethnic identity.

Drawing on the breadth of the Smithsonian's research, exhibitions, and collections, we explore the complicated history and legacy of race and racism in our communities and institutions. The work of Reckoning with Our Racial Past supports a collective shift toward equity.

Confronting race and racism is difficult but necessary work. The Smithsonian strives to create collaborative, impactful spaces, and amplify multiple perspectives in service of a more equitable shared future for all.

Our mission and vision

A Welcome Message from Lonnie G. Bunch III, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution

Speaker: Lonnie G. Bunch, III, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution

Date: August 21, 2021

Length: 1 minute 17 seconds



Our Shared Future Reckoning With Our Racial Past, Smithsonian


Lonnie Bunch:

I'm Lonnie Bunch, the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.



Lonnie G. Bunch, III. Smithsonian Secretary


Lonnie Bunch:

Welcome to the digital hub of "Our Shared Future: Reckoning With Our Racial Past." For 175 years the Smithsonian has collected, shared, and contextualized history, the history of people, places, social movements, and modern advancements. Although many of the stories we find here are uncomfortable, and even difficult, they provide necessary context for the discussions needed to learn, grow, and make our communities better. History can help us navigate that shared journey, but only if we apply its lessons and collectively work towards a more just society. We invite you to explore this digital space that examines the unvarnished history of race and the ways the racial divide continues to shape the American experience. I hope the lived experiences, engaging events, and educational resources on this site will inspire you to join the conversation. With your help, we can achieve a more inclusive, equitable, and brighter shared future.



Our Shared Future Reckoning With Our Racial Past, Smithsonian

An Initiative for Social Change

Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past emerges from both centuries of systemic racism and its urgent, present-day reality. With this new initiative, we seek to spark positive social change and build a more equitable future through interdisciplinary scholarship, creative partnerships, dialogue, and engagement.

Black woman wearing glasses and a two tone blouse.
Deborah L. Mack, Ph.D.
Director, Race and Our Shared Future
Through 'Race and Our Shared Future,' we hope to grow engaged, intergenerational communities of learners and doers.
Learn about our initiative
Photo of the 1964 graduating class of John Philip Sousa High School, from the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, DC. The image shows how quickly the student body changed from a proportionally white population to a black population.

Stories from a D.C. Neighborhood

Part of the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum exhibition, A Right to the City, several people share their experiences with changing city streets, segregated American society, and preserving cultural legacy.

Our Foundational Pillars

Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past is built on six thematic pillars. Each is designed to make issues of race and systemic racism understandable, relevant, and, most importantly, changeable.

two daughters and a son hugging their smiling father
Image: Untitled, © Devin Allen
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
We think about race from multiple perspectives, from the individual to the institutional.
Read about the pillars
Lonnie G. Bunch III, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution
Lonnie G. Bunch III Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution
At a time when the nation is in crisis, all of our institutions need to contribute to making the country better.

Start New Classroom Conversations

From teaching toolkits to low-tech learning activities, the Learning Lab’s resources support classroom teachers’ efforts to amplify critical conversations about the history and legacy of race and racism in the United States and beyond with their students.

A young boy looking at his teacher from his desk in a classroom
Conversations about race may be uncomfortable, yet it is at the edge of discomfort where we can learn the most.
Find resources