2006-2007: Making History/Shaping History
Lonnie Bunch,"The Power of Remembering: The Continuing Importance of Black History Month"
American University alumnus Lonnie Bunch (CAS/BA ‘74, CAS/MA ‘76) is the founding director of the newly chartered National Museum of African American History and Culture to be opened on the national mall. Touted as “a distinguished historian and a skilled leader,” Mr. Bunch has previously served as the president of the Chicago Historical Society, the National Museum of American History’s associate director for curatorial affairs, the curator of history and program manager for the California Afro-American Museum in Los Angeles, and an education specialist at the National Air and Space Museum.
Mr. Bunch’s The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden was published in 2000 by the Smithsonian Institution Press. In 2002, he was named by President George W. Bush to the Committee for the Preservation of the White House. Mr. Bunch was also named American University’s 2005 Alumni Achievement Award winner.
Natasha Trethewey: "A Remnant South: A Reading and Discussion"
Born in Gulfport, Mississippi, Natasha Trethewey is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Emory University and was the 2005-2006 Lehman Brady Joint Chair Professor of Documentary and American Studies at Duke University and the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill). Her books of poetry include Native Guard (Houghton Mifflin, 2006), Bellocq's Ophelia (Graywolf, 2002), Domestic Work (Graywolf, 2000), selected by former US Poet Laureate Rita Dove as the winner of the inaugural Cave Canem Poetry Prize.
Native Guard examines the lives of the Louisiana Native Guard — the first official regiment of black soldiers in the Union Army during the Civil War. Of the book, Darryl Lorenzo Wellington writes in the Washington Post, “The title poem is a 10-sonnet sequence in which the last line of each sonnet becomes a variant of the subsequent sonnet's opening line, creating a lovely, wreathlike effect. The graceful form conceals a gritty subject, … a first-person narrative of an unnamed ex-slave who has joined the Union army to serve in an all-black regiment. The lines have a stately, chiming perfection. The circular form mirrors the bizarre circularity of circumstance that finds the narrator — once a slave — now guarding Confederates who have been captured and imprisoned inside the Union fort at Ship Island, Miss.”
Her poem “Storyville Diary,” from Bellocq’s Ophelia, won the prestigious Grolier Prize from the Grolier Bookstore in Cambridge, MA, and the Margaret Walker Award for Poetry from Poets & Writers Magazine and QBR: The Black Book Review. Her other honors include the Bunting Fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund.
She was a member of the storied writers’ group the Dark Room Collective.