NMAAHC Director Lonnie G. Bunch III Tapped as Commencement Keynote Speaker

A keynote speaker has been tapped for the spring 2018 Commencement Exercises! Lonnie G. Bunch, III, is the founding director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The historian, author, curator, and educator is a scholar who brings history to the people. In this position at NMAAHC, Bunch promotes the museum’s mission to help audiences see African American history as American history, and provides strategic leadership in areas of fundraising, collections, and academic and cultural partnerships. 

Lonnie Bunch, Director, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution

For nearly 30 years, Bunch has been in the museum field where he is regarded as one of the nation’s leading figures in the historical and museum community. Before his appointment as director of NMAAHC, Bunch served as the president of the Chicago Historical Society, the National Museum of American History’s associate director for Curatorial Affairs and an education specialist and historian at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. He has also curated various exhibitions during his career. While he was the assistant director for curatorial affairs at NMAH, Bunch developed “Smithsonian’s America,” an exhibition that explored the history, culture, and diversity of the United States. He also served as the curator of history for the California Afro-American Museum in Los Angeles from 1983 to 1989 where he organized several award-winning exhibitions including “The Black Olympians, 1904-1950” and “Black Angelenos: The Afro-American in Los Angeles, 1850-1950.”

As an author, Bunch has written on topics that range from slavery, the military experience, the American presidency and all-black towns in the American west to diversity in museum management and the impact of funding and politics on American museums. He has published the following books: “Call the Lost dream Back: Essays on Race, History and Museums,” (2010), “Slave Culture: A Documentary Collection of the Slave Narratives” (2014), and “Memories of the Enslaved: Voices from the Slave Narratives” (2015). In 2016, he co-authored “From No Return: the 221-Year Journey of the Slave Ship Sao Jose,” and the following year, 2017, he authored for the World Economic Forum in Davos Agenda (blog), “America, Slavery and how Museums can help to heal Fractured Societies.”

In service to the historical and cultural community, Bunch has served on the advisory boards of the American Association of Museums, the African American Association of Museums, the American Association of State and Local History, and the ICOM-US. Among his many awards, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to the Commission for the Preservation of the White House in 2002 and reappointed by President Barack Obama in 2009. In 2005, Bunch was named one of the 100 most influential museum professionals in the 20th century by the American Association of Museums, and in 2009, Ebony Magazine named him one of its 150 most influential African Americans. Again, in 2016 he was chosen as one of the 100 most significant African Americans by Ebony Magazine. In 2011, BET (Black Entertainment Television) selected Bunch to receive its BET Honors for outstanding service to American education.

Years later, in 2014, BET selected Bunch as one of its ICON Men for his work mentoring young African American men. In recent years, Bunch has been honored with: Visionary History Award, DC Historical Society (2016), Rainbow Push Torchbearer Award (2016), Delta Sigma Thea Remembering Our Heritage Award (2016), and National Newspaper Publishers Association Torch Award (2016). In 2016, Washingtonian Magazine named him Washingtonian of the Year and Bunch was listed as #1 in the Washington Business Journal’s Power 100 ratings and in Vanity Fair’s Hall of Fame. In 2017, Bunch was given the President Award at the NAACP Image Award and the Greater Washington Urban League presented him with the Impact Leader Award. In addition, BLACK ENTERPRISE presented Bunch with the inaugural XCEL Award at their Summit. He is married to Maria Marable Bunch, a museum educator. They have two daughters, Sarah and Katie.

The commencement ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. in Panther Stadium. No tickets are required for admission. For those unable to attend, a live webcast will be available on the PVAMU website.

Designated an institution of “the first class” in the Texas Constitution, Prairie View A&M University is the second-oldest public institution of higher education in the state. With an established reputation for producing engineers, nurses, and educators, PVAMU offers baccalaureate degrees, master’s degrees and doctoral degree programs through seven colleges and the School of Architecture.