Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth.



This exhibition uses bold, contemporary visual art, fresh literary excerpts, and vibrant stories to highlight revolutionary African American men. Men of Change weaves the historic and contemporary together to illuminate their impact and significance, within the context of rich community traditions.

Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth.  interrogates what is means to be Black and male in America through a blend of original, contemporary art and expertly curated stories of both known and lesser-known African American men from throughout the last century.  It explores an array of significant cultural influencers —including Muhammad Ali, James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, W.E.B Du Bois, and Kendrick Lamar—through engaging multimedia, lively dialogue spaces, fresh art, and the latest thinking in redefining heroism through the eyes of black men. Above all, Men of Change is a powerful tool to engage audiences about issues such as the role of men in society and the state of race relations and social justice both in your community and in our country.

While these men made their mark in a variety of disciplines—politics, sports, science, entertainment, business, religion, and more—all understood the value of asserting their own agency by owning their own stories.

Men of Change was developed by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and made possible through the generous support of the Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services.

  • The Message

    Through literary and historic quotes, poetry, original works of art, dramatic photographs, and a dynamic space that encourages self-reflection, this innovative exhibition weaves together the historical and the contemporary to illuminate the importance of these men within the context of rich community traditions.
  • The Artists

    Twenty-five contemporary artists were invited to reflect and celebrate the significance of these ground-breaking individuals through their own creative vision. These works of art serve as counterpoint to the sumptuously backlit photographs and inspiring quotes, and together honor the truth of the African American experience in history and today. 

Development & Sponsorship