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“African American history is American history. You can’t tell it without talking about the contributions, the questions, the very heart of the creativity of African American culture.”

As a poet and director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture , Kevin Young thinks a lot about how African American culture is a crucial part of American culture. From blues music to poetry, from cakewalk dances to Black Twitter, Young draws connections across time as he discusses a wide range of art forms and cultural phenomena.

In this episode, hosted by Getty Research Institute associate curator Dr. LeRonn Brooks, Young discusses his poetry and the visibility and influence of African American art across mediums and history.

Young is the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the poetry editor of The New Yorker. He has published fifteen books of poetry and prose and is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and the PEN Open Book Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and MacDowell Colony. He was also finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism.

Waist-up portrait of curator LeRonn Brooks

Curator and host LeRonn Brooks

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Kevin Young

LeRonn Brooks: Hello, I am LeRonn Brooks, associate curator for Modern and Contemporary Collections at the Getty Research Institute. Welcome to Art + Ideas. I’m your host for a three-episode series about poetry and visual art.
Kevin Young: African American history is American history. Yo...

Music Credits
“The Dharma at Big Sur – Sri Moonshine and A New Day.” Music written by John Adams and licensed with permission from Hendon Music. (P) 2006 Nonesuch Records, Inc., Produced Under License From Nonesuch Records, Inc. ISRC: USNO10600825 & USNO10600824

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This post is part of Art + Ideas, a podcast in which Getty president Jim Cuno talks with artists, writers, curators, and scholars about their work.
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