By Omar Eaton-Martínez, AASLH 2020 Annual Meeting Program Chair

Like many of you, I was disappointed in not being able to fellowship with you all this month in Las Vegas for #AASLH2020, but I applaud AASLH’s decision to go virtual to ensure our safety and health. As our country continues to grapple with the intersecting pandemics of racial injustice and COVID-19, members of our field are looking for ways to prepare for informing the conscience of our public. The public we engaged with prior to COVID-19 will not be the same public we engage with as we begin to re-open. The 2020 theme, “What Kind of Ancestor Will You Be?”, provokes us beyond reflection to a “call to action.”

I am excited to present to you a stimulating six days of provocative general sessions, live panel sessions, and happy hours! Also included are brown bag lunches hosted by our affinity communities and recorded panel sessions that will have separate discussion groups. These events allow us to exchange ideas and build coalition so we can all become “good ancestors.”

This virtual conference will be a year of firsts for AASLH general sessions, including:

September 24 11am ET
The first general session featuring all Black women panelists. The#MeToo, and #BlackLivesMatter: Black Women Leaders Overcoming the Double Burden general session will open the conference with an explosive conversation with leaders in our field who will share with us how they grapple with systemic barriers of racism and patriarchy.

September 25 2pm ET
The first general session featuring Afro Latinx voices. An Interview with Dr. Ariana A. Curtis will be a candid conversation between two Afro Latinxs discussing the impact of Dr. Curtis’s work as a Latinx curator in the Smithsonian. We will be talking about dislocating dominant culture through topics such as honoring the “everyday women,” “Latinidad through an African American Lens,” the impact of trauma on public history, activism in museums, and of course, “What Kind of Ancestor Will You Be?”

September 29 2pm ET
The first general session featuring all Indigenous panelists. The #IndigenousLivesMatter: Centering Voices of Indigenous People” general session will feature artivists whose work interrogates the myths that society has concerning Indigenous people. These discussions will help make the connection of the past to the present to inform the future. Topics covered will include: impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous communities, MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women), the Dakota Access pipeline, removal of monuments, racist mascots, and police brutality.

September 30 11am ET
The first reflective closing general session.  Our very own Christy Coleman, Executive Director of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and member of the AASLH Council, will be sharing her reflections on the conference, how it addressed the theme, and giving us a call to action so that we can leave the conference inspired to do the work of “good ancestors.”

We also have two general sessions that will address the impact of racial injustice and COVID-19 on the future of public history, featuring organizations like Museums and Race, Museum Workers Speak, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. And for the first time ever, we are offering a “Limited Access” registration that gives you access to the six general sessions, our virtual exhibit hall, and our happy hours for FREE! View the full program here.

Our theme is not just a question. It is a clarion call to our professional community to consider our work in the temporal continuum of the past, present and future. Please join us September 24-30 so that we can collectively ask ourselves “What Kind of Ancestors Will WE Be?”

Registration is now open for #AASLH2020! Visit to learn more and register.