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National Museum of African American's New Exhibit Focuses on Afrofuturism

There will be a resurgence in Afrofuturism.

A new exhibit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture titled Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures, opened on March 24. And it will capture the most pivotal moment for the genre.

This is a huge breakthrough as the world of Afrofuturism was small for years.

This genre of Black arts — including literature, film, comics and music — was most dominant in books written by authors with cult followings, including Steven Barnes, Samuel Delany and Octavia Butler, who is the godmother of Afrofuturism.

Books written on Afrofuturism were reality-bending stories focused on Black people: a slave sorcerer who buys his freedom by showing his master he could live for an eternity, among other unique Black plots.

Barnes, the author of more than 30 books, said it was a tad bit lonely when writing these kinds of books.

“For about 20 years, Octavia and I were probably the only Black people writing science fiction and getting published,” Barns said to NBC News. “It was unspeakably lonely.”

Now new voices will accentuate the attraction. Films such as Black Panther and Get Out, a movie in which Jordan Peele won a screenwriting Oscar in 2018 for, are helping push the idea of Afrofuturism even further. Thanks to 100 objects from music, movies, television, books, fashion, theater and more, the exhibition documents a century of Afrofuturism and its impact on American culture.

Displays include Butler’s typewriter, musician George Clinton’s iconic P-Funk Mothership, as well as the Black Panther uniform worn by the late great Chadwick Boseman.

Kevin Strait, the curator leading the exhibition, put the prominent display into context.

“(Afrofuturism’s) broad and aesthetic and futuristic influence (is part of art and fashion today), but our collective present is still shaped by the barriers and challenges from our shared past,” Straight said. “Afrofuturism looks forward and seeks to reveal the unlimited possibilities that the future holds.”


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