Steven Cameron Newsome
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Norfolk - Steven Cameron Newsome, former Director of the Smithsonian Institution's Anacostia Community Museum passed away September 27, 2012. During his 12-year tenure at the Museum, Newsome became a well-known advocate for the development of more meaningful relationships between museums and their constituents. He led a fundraising effort that resulted in a renovation of the museum and created an annual summer academy - an intensive program of cultural education for young people - which was held at three churches in the Anacostia neighborhood.
Newsome began his career as a librarian. He held positions at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Chicago. He was also the Curator of the Vivian G. Harsh Collection of African American Literature and History at the Chicago Public Library.
Before joining the Smithsonian in 1991, Newsome served as the Director of the Maryland Commission on Afro-American History and Culture and the Banneker-Douglass Museum (Annapolis, MD). He was the co-founder of the annual Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival, and established "Let Freedom Ring," an annual Baltimore Symphony Orchestra tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
After retiring from the Smithsonian, Newsome served as Executive Director of the Prince George's Arts and Humanities Council (Hyattsville, MD) where he established a commitment to offering high-quality and diverse arts programs for county residents and visitors. He later became the founding director of the Prince George's African American Museum and Cultural Center (North Brentwood, MD).
Newsome was recognized as a dynamic speaker and panelist, participating in programs and workshops across the country and internationally. He spoke in South Africa, Brazil, Canada, Ghana, and Cote d'Ivoire.
"Museums," Newsome said "are not just storehouses for materials of the past. They are places for discovering, imagining, and remembering … but most importantly learning. We can no longer think of them as places which are visited to see pieces of the past. They are dynamic places where we can see ourselves, gain understanding of our neighbors, and get new insights into the way in which we live. Museums must not only help us understand the unique and distinctive. They can and must teach about the significance of the ordinary and how everyday life contributes to the making and evolution of our civil society."
Newsome was born September 11, 1952 in Norfolk, Virginia. He earned degrees from Trinity College (Hartford, CT) and Emory University (Atlanta, GA). He is survived by his daughter, Sanya Newsome (Edward Pagan) and two granddaughters, Jianni Amara Newsome and Kaeli Symone Newsome-Pagan (Chicago, IL).
A public tribute was held December 2, 2012 at Arena Stage, Washington, DC. Family and friends scattered his ashes September 2013.
Published in The Virginian Pilot on Oct. 6, 2013