Michelle Commander Named Deputy of Smithsonian’s African American History Museum

This Black woman is stepping into the future of the prestigious museum that takes visitors on a journey through the past.

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in downtown Washington D.C., has appointed its deputy director role to historian and author Michelle Commander.

According to The Washington Informer, Commander’s role will comprise of a spread of duties that include assisting and collaborating with the overall planning, development, and management of the museum’s activities. Responsibilities for Commander as deputy director will also involve supporting the work on the current Living History campaign, expanding the museum’s technologies, and leading the education and publications offices.

Extended expectations for Commander’s new role also call for the development of partnerships and the implementation of an educational and engaging environment among Smithsonian museums.

“With her wide-ranging work on global slavery, West Africa, and Afrofuturism, Michelle is deeply anchored in history with an understanding of how historic collections intersect with our contemporary world,” said Kevin Young, the museum’s Andrew W. Mellon director.

“She has a demonstrated record of embracing innovation to expand a museum’s reach to various communities,” Young added.

Commander is suited to move into her new role at the museum following her positions as deputy director of research and strategic initiatives at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Schomburg’s associate director, and curator of the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery.

The Black history scholar obtained her bachelor’s degree from Charleston Southern University. She expanded her studies, receiving master’s degrees from Florida State University and the University of Southern California, and a doctorate from USC. Commander has written books and articles, in addition to teaching at the University of Tennessee.

Commander replaces the recently retired Kinshasha Holman Conwill. The museum announced her exit in December.