Reckoning with Our Racial Past in Los Angeles

Three downtown Los Angeles museums presented a collaborative series of public programs in connection with the Smithsonian initiative in December 2023.


Learn more
A man holding a microphone faces an audience of people in the background.
The headdress has two appendages shaped like elongated fleur-de-lis’s extend on either side of the face, and a swan emerges from the crown.

3D Digital Collections

These objects highlight meaningful stories to help us learn more about the complicated history and legacy of race and racism while also humanizing the stories that have helped build a more equitable shared future.  

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.

Black woman wearing glasses, a black jacket and a white blouse.
Deborah L. Mack, Ph.D.
Director, Race and Our Shared Future
Through 'Race and Our Shared Future,' we hope to grow engaged, intergenerational communities of learners and doers.
Learn about our initiative
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.

two daughters and a son hugging their smiling father
Image: Untitled, © Devin Allen
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
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.
A group of young children stand next to an open fire hydrant.

Recommended Viewing

Understanding the past is the key to building a better shared future, but where do we begin? A new series of videos, created in partnership with Google Arts & Culture, illuminates how systemic racism shows up in our lives and offers resources to help create change.