National History Academy will host a series of guest speakers who are nationally recognized experts in their fields as part of an online speaker series. These speakers supplement the lessons learned in the classroom and during the virtual site visits with real-world examples.

Speaker engagements are open to the public and will be streamed live on the National History Academy Facebook Page.

July 9, 6:00 pm EST
“The Legacy of Theodore Roosevelt”
Ed O'Keefe, Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library

After a 20-year career as a journalist, author and media producer, he is now the Chief Operating Officer of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation in North Dakota. He will discuss the plans to build the library and Roosevelt’s legacy as the 26st President of the United States. His forthcoming book, The Loves of Theodore Roosevelt, will be published by Simon and Schuster.

July 13, 6:00 pm EST
“Preserving and Presenting American History at America’s National Parks”
David Vela, National Park Service

A 30-year career veteran of the National Park Service (NPS), David Vela began his tenure as Deputy Director for Operations, Exercising the Authority of the Director of the National Park Service, on October 1, 2019. In this capacity, he is responsible for the administration of the National Park System which comprises 419 units, over 20,000 employees, and a budget exceeding $3 billion dollars.

July 14, 6:00 pm EST
“Driving While Black and Civil Rights in American History”
Gretchen Sorin, Author, Driving While Black

She is Director and Distinguished Service Professor at the Cooperstown Graduate Program, a training program for museum curators, educators, and directors. She will discuss her latest book Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights (2020) and her work on the production of a PBS documentary by the same title with filmmaker Ric Burns.

July 15, 6:00 pm EST
“Building the International African America Museum”
Elijah Heyward III

Chief Operating Officer of the International African American Museum now under construction in Charleston, South Carolina. A graduate of Yale Divinity School and the recipient of the Yale President’s Public Service fellowship that supported the Youth Scholar Academy, a nationwide college access program he founded to prepare young men from under-resourced communities to thrive in high school, college, and beyond.

July 22, 6:00 pm EST
“Madam C.J. Walker, American Entrepreneur”
A'Lelia Bundles, Author, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker

She will speak about On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker, her 2001 New York Times Notable Book about her entrepreneurial great-great-grandmother and the inspiration for the fictional four-part Netflix series starring Oscar winner Octavia Spencer that premiered in March 2020.

July 23, 6:00 pm EST
“Thurgood Marshall, A Pioneer in Civil Rights Law”
Spencer Crew, NMAAHC

Dr. Crew will discuss his biography that introduces readers to the constant battles for equality faced by African Americans through the career of Thurgood Marshall, who believed in the power of the law to change a society. He is the interim director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

July 28, 6:00 pm EST
Ed Linenthal

Edward Linenthal is an American academic who specializes in religious and American studies, and particularly memorials and other sacred spaces.

Linenthal received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara and worked for 25 years at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh, in religious studies. He is currently at Indiana University, in the history department. In his youth, Linenthal played drums for a rock band called ‘The Thyme’ who often opened for well known acts such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Cream band, The Who, and MC5 at the Grande Ballroom (where The Thyme served as a house band) and The Union Street Station among other locations.

Linenthal is the author of four scholarly monographs, and has served as the editor-in-chief of The Journal of American History. One of his research interests is “sacred ground”, that is, the places that are sanctified by sacrifice of one sort of another (and later frequently commercialized[2])–this is the topic of his Sacred Ground, an interest which led to an involvement with the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. He is a consultant with the National Park Service, and has worked on such memorials as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; his Preserving Memory (first published 1995) describes various controversies and debates pertaining to the planning and building of the museum.

July 29, 6:00 pm EST
“Leadership In Times Of National Trauma”
The Honorable Tom Ridge, 1st US Secretary of Homeland Security

Tom Ridge is the twice-elected governor of Pennsylania (1994, 1998) and the first secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). He will share his experience on September 11, 2001 when a hijacked plane, United Flight 93, crashed in Pennsylvania and his role is establishing DHS.

July 31
“Why Historic Sites Matter”
Brent D. Glass

Brent GlassDr. Glass is the Director Emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. He is the author of 50 Great American Places: Essential Sites Across the US (2016) and serves as Senior Advisor to the National History Academy. He is interim executive director of the Sing Sing Prison Museum and the National Building Museum.