The Smithsonian’s Museum

of African American

History & Culture: 


 in conversation

Saturday, July 6th @ 4:30 PM

General Ticket: $ 10 / Members: $ 5


                                                                                                               The Church welcomes the Smithsonian’s Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) as our presenting partner in an exciting collaboration centering on Black creativity. Kevin Young, the Andrew W. Mellon Director of NMAAHC, joins us for three intimate and thought-provoking dialogues with artistic visionaries. More information on the next two sessions, including dates and speakers coming soon.

In this inaugural discussion, Kevin will be joined by Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, Colson Whitehead. Colson Whitehead spent his formative years in Sag Harbor, an experience that informed his 2009 book Sag Harbor.

All speakers for the series will have significant ties to the community as this program connects deeply with The Church’s mission of ‘fostering creativity on Eastern Long Island’ and ‘honoring the history of Sag Harbor as a maker’s village,’ exploring the rich creative contributions of African American visionaries who share profound personal or professional histories with our community.



Colson Whitehead is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of eleven works of fiction and nonfiction, and is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, for The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad, which also won the National Book Award. A recipient of MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships, he lives in New York City.

Colson Whitehead

Photo by Chris Close





Kevin Young is the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. As the nation’s largest museum dedicated to telling the African American story, the 19th museum in the Smithsonian complex welcomes 2 million annual visitors and engages an international audience through world-class online programming and digital access to its collections.

Prior to joining the Smithsonian, Young served as the Director of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture from 2016-2021, where he oversaw significant increases to its funding, archive acquisitions, and visitor reach. A professor for two decades, he began his career in museums and archives at Emory University in 2005, first as Curator of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library and later as the Curator of Literary Collections, while serving as Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing.

An award-winning author of fourteen books of poetry and prose, Young is the poetry editor of the New Yorker, where he also hosts the poetry podcast. Young’s most recent works include Stones (2021), Brown (2018) and Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts & Fake News (2017), which was longlisted for the National Book Award and a National Book Critics Circle Award; two have also been named New York Times Notable Books. Other noteworthy titles include Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems 1995-2015 (2016), longlisted for the National Book Award; Book of Hours (2014), winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize and his nonfiction debut The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness (2012), which won the PEN Open Award and was named a New York Times Notable Book. His third poetry collection Jelly Roll: a blues (2003) was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Young is also the editor of nine volumes, most recently the anthology African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song, released in fall 2020 from Library of America. The collection was named one of the best books of 2020 by the New York Times Book Review, EsquireTIME, the AtlanticGood Morning AmericaO, the Oprah MagazineThe Chicago TribuneShelf AwarenessLit Hub, and Barnes & Noble. The New York Times called it “monumental and rapturous”; NPR’s “Fresh Air” named it “the year’s most revelatory book”; and TIME magazine describes it as “a document both breathtaking and inspiring, historical and personal.”

Young holds a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard College and a Master of Fine Arts from Brown University. He has held a Stegner Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, and a NEA fellowship. Director Young is active across the art and cultural community. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was named a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2020. 


Kevin Young Photo by Leah L. Jones


(View the events calendar here) The Church was established in 2019 by artists Eric Fischl and April Gornik. Housed in a deconsecrated 19th-century church, its doors were opened in April 2021. Our mission is to foster creativity and to honor the living history of Sag Harbor as a maker village. The East End represents an exceptional artistic legacy, spanning the practices of Indigenous art of several centuries ago, Abstract Expressionists of the mid-20th Century, and the many celebrated writers, makers, musicians, and visual artists of the recent past and current moment.  Core programming includes visual art exhibitions, concerts and events, educational programming, workshops, lectures, and an artist’s residency.


The Church

Sag Harbor




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