Denzel Washington has always been revered as a man with class, and has carried himself with much dignity and respect. He is a role model for many; always leading by example. He is known to be passionate about African American culture, and issues that affect the black community – and he doesn’t just talk the talk…he also walks the walk. Recently, Denzel did just that, as his Hollywood event raised $17 million for the Smithsonian National Museum for African American History and Culture.
The National Museum for African American History and Culture is the newest Smithsonian museum, set to open on Sept. 24. In April, The Washington Post reported the Smithsonian was a little less than $18 million shy of it’s $540 million goal for the project. The federal government has already contributed $270 million.
Saturday’s private A-list event — minus the stars in town for the White House correspondent’s dinner — is an attempt to help the NMAAHC move the needle.
With Denzel’s event raising an impressive $17 million, it looks like the NMAAHC is on track to meet it’s goals for the September opening.
It is reported that $10 million of the donations raised was pledged by television mogul Shonda Rhimes.
During the event, which took place at the his home in Los Angeles, Washington expressed to his guests the importance of the museum’s success.
“There is such a historical significance to this project,’’ said Denzel Washington. “It means so much for our community, our country and to future generations.’’
Variety gives details on event attendees and additional NMAAHC donors:
The lavish evening welcomed big names like Quincy Jones, Magic Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson and featured a performance by R&B singer Goapele Mohlabane who serenaded guests throughout the night. Dinner for the evening included braised short ribs, sea bass and cauliflower steaks.
Pauletta Washington, a noted Broadway performer and accomplished pianist opened the evening with a vocal invocation of the Lord’s Prayer near the home’s Olympian sized pool.
“In this climate where so much money is being raised for the Presidency and The White House, it is incredible to have the support we received,’’ said Pauletta Washington. “It’s good knowing that even with so much going on, people are committed to making sure that this museum is successful.’
Notable names who have contributed over a $1 million dollars to the project include George Lucas and his wife Mellody Hobson and Oprah Winfrey, who as the largest individual donor to date has donated more than $21 million dollars to the site that will feature Harriett Tubman’s hymnal, Nat Turner’s bible, Emmett Till’s original coffin as well as Louis Armstrong’s trumpet. The museum will feature a 355 seat theatre named after Winfrey, their largest contributor to date. Shonda Rhimes will also have a gallery in her name.
Hank Aaron, The NBA Association and former Secretary State Colin Powell have also given large donations.
Magic Johnson closed the evening on Saturday night with a promise of encouraging more from the world of entertainment and sports to show their support by donating to the museum, which will feature 11 inaugural exhibitions on the African American experience, including galleries on slavery, segregation and Civil Rights.
“We have to get everyone involved in this making this a success,’’ said Johnson