Our Shared Future: Reckoning With Our Racial Past Forum

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Three joyful black children being held by their father

Reckoning and Reconciliation

Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past offers a space for dialogue about race. It provides a safe and collaborative place where anyone can share experiences and increase their understanding of the legacy of race and racism.

Drawing on the breadth of the Smithsonian's expertise, research, and collections, our goal is to help advance the work of others. Race and Our Shared Future provides an ecosystem of resources and experiences, both digital and live, featuring real conversations from local communities to national events.

Confronting race and racism is difficult, but necessary work. The Smithsonian strives to amplify your voices in our commitment to building a more equitable path toward our shared future.

Our mission and vision

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

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.

Ariana Curtis with Washington Monument in background
Ariana A. Curtis, Ph.D.
Director of Content, "Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past" at Smithsonian Institution
Through 'Race and Our Shared Future,' we hope to grow engaged, intergenerational communities of learners and doers.
Learn about our initiative

Get Involved Now

Attend an event. Join a discussion. Listen and learn how others' experiences may differ from your own. Think about how race operates in your own communities. Positive change doesn't happen by itself, but rather when we all act together, even when it feels uncomfortable.

The true story of our heritage is nuanced, complex, and fascinating.
Kevin Gover
Under Secretary for Museums and Culture at the Smithsonian
Two men having a discussion at a table
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.

Ariana Curtis in front of an outdoor sculpture
Ariana A. Curtis, Ph.D.
Director of Content, "Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past" at Smithsonian Institution
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
Source: NMAAHC Education Department
Conversations about race may be uncomfortable, yet it is at the edge of discomfort where we can learn the most.
Find resources