About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for "Revolutionary Movements Then and Now:  Black Power and Black Lives Matter"


McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, Washington, DC

October 19, 2016


Good evening. Welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased you could be with us tonight—whether you are here or joining us on YouTube—for our discussion of “Revolutionary Movements Then and Now: Black Power and Black Lives Matter.”

On this 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Power movement, we present a panel discussion about revolutionary movements of the past and present.  We’re pleased to welcome A’Lelia Bundles—journalist, author, and Chair of the National Archives Foundation—as moderater. Our partner this evening is “Say it Loud,” our African American Employee Affinity Group at the National Archives. The group is one of several affinity groups at the National Archives, which raise cultural awareness, enable collaboration, share knowledge, and promote personal growth.

After the program, you are welcome to continue the discussion at a reception upstairs in the Rotunda galleries, where you may also look at a selection of original records drawn from our Department of Justice holdings.

Before we begin, I’d like to let you know about two upcoming programs.

On Friday, October 28, at noon, Robert O’Harrow, Jr, will be here to talk about his book The Quartermaster: Montgomery C. Meigs, Lincoln’s General, Master Builder of the Union Army. General Meigs, a master of logistics, was known as the architect of the Union victory.

On Thursday, November 3, at 7 p.m., in a program titled “Facing Slavery’s Legacy at Georgetown University,” Adam Rothman, professor of history at Georgetown University, will discuss the university’s roots in the slave economy of early America and their implications for today.

To learn more about these and all of our public programs and exhibits, consult our monthly Calendar of Events in print or online at Archives.gov. There are copies in the lobby—along with a sign-up sheet so you can receive it by regular mail or email. You’ll also find brochures about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Pick up your application for membership in the lobby or become a member online at archivesfoundation.org.

Earlier I mentioned that we have a special display of some original records upstairs. National Archives records reflect all facets of American history, and this small sample shows the range of reactions to the shooting of two Illinois Black Panther leaders, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, during a police raid. One letter from nine Members of Congress calls for an investigation; a press release announces the Attorney General’s appointment of an investigation team; and letters from citizens express differing opinions on the outcome.

Not on display but in FBI records are case files related to the Nation of Islam, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, Miriam Makeba, and Angela Davis.

Calls for a greater voice in politics and society are documented in statements from founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus and audio recordings of Nikki Giovanni, Gwendolyn Brooks, James Baldwin, and other writers and poets from the Black Arts Movement.

To hear more about our records and to guide us into tonight’s program, I’d like to turn you over to two members of our National Archives staff. Netisha Currie is the Chair of Say it Loud and an archives specialist, and Tina Ligon [Le-gun], is the Co-Chair of Say it Loud and a supervisory archivist.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Netisha Currie and Tina Ligon.