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

Source: Erin C.J. Robertson/The Root.Com

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.