History is Now: What is America's Story?

Tuesday, February 9, 2021
2-3:15pm, Virtual Webinar


Lonnie Bunch headshot

Lonnie Bunch

Lonnie G. Bunch III, the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian, oversees 19 museums, 21 libraries, the National Zoo, numerous research centers, and several education units and centers and a $1 billion budget. Bunch was the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture which opened in 2016 and immediately became a cultural landmark for the city and the nation, attracting more than six million visitors in the first few years. Before becoming director in 2005, Bunch was president of the Chicago Historical Society. He has been awarded the Freedom Medal from the Roosevelt Institute and the National Equal Justice Award from the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund. Bunch chronicled his experience with the African American Museum in a book, “A Fool’s Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Era of Bush, Obama and Trump.”


Ken Burns headshot

Ken Burns

Ken Burns has been making documentary films for over forty years. Since the Academy Award nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, Ken has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made, including The Civil War; Baseball; Jazz; The War; The National Parks:  America’s Best Idea; The Roosevelts:  An Intimate History; Jackie Robinson; The Vietnam War; and Country Music.

Future film projects include Hemingway, Muhammad Ali, The Holocaust and the United States, Benjamin Franklin, The American Buffalo, Leonardo da Vinci, The American RevolutionLBJ & the Great Society, and Emancipation to Exodus, among others.

Ken’s films have been honored with dozens of major awards, including sixteen Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards and two Oscar nominations; and in September of 2008, at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards, Ken was honored by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with a Lifetime Achievement Award.


Amna Nawaz headshot

Amna Nawaz

Amna Nawaz joined PBS NewsHour in April 2018 and serves as senior national correspondent and primary substitute anchor. Prior to joining the NewsHour, Nawaz was an anchor and correspondent at ABC News. Before that, she served as a foreign correspondent at NBC News, reporting from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Turkey, and the broader region. She is also the founder and former managing editor of NBC’s Asian America platform, built to elevate the voices of America’s fastest-growing population.

At the NewsHour, Nawaz has reported politics, foreign affairs, education, climate change, culture and sports. In 2019, her reporting as part of a NewsHour series on the global plastic problem was the recipient of a Peabody Award. She has also been honored with an Emmy Award, a Society for Features Journalism Award, and was a recipient of the International Reporting Project fellowship in 2009.


A conversation with Smithsonian Institution Lonnie Bunch and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, moderated by PBS Correspondent Amna Nawaz.

Join Smithsonian Institution Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns in a conversation moderated by PBS Correspondent Amna Nawaz on the making of cultural memory and the role of memory in shaping how we as nations, communities, and individuals understand ourselves. In light of protests over Confederate monuments and other symbols of the past, the discussion will consider what role the arts and cultural institutions can play in building a more inclusive future. Audience questions will be welcome.

This event is hosted by UVA’s Democracy Initiative with the support of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

Email Christine Linsinbigler at [email protected] with questions.