NEW YORK (September 6, 2022) — The National Urban League has named anthropologist, museum leader, author, curator, and public historian Jennifer Scott to head the Urban Civil Rights Museum, New York’s first museum dedicated to civil rights and one of the first in the nation to focus on the history of civil rights in the North. She will serve as the new museum’s founding Executive Director and Chief Curator
“As one of the nation’s leading museum experts and public history scholars, Ms. Scott has the depth of experience and knowledge to create a world-class museum that will serve as an anchor for the National Urban League’s new headquarters, the Urban League Empowerment Center, in Harlem,” National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said. “Under Ms. Scott’s leadership, the Urban Civil Rights Museum will break new ground in exploring the significant role Northern communities like Harlem have played in the American Civil Rights Movement. We’re thrilled to welcome her to the National Urban League.”
In addition to the Urban Civil Rights Museum, the Urban League Empowerment Center will include 170 units of affordable housing, below-market office space for non-profits and community groups including One Hundred Black Men of New York, United Negro College Fund New York, and the Harlem-based Jazzmobile, and retail space featuring Target and Trader Joe’s. It is slated to open in late 2024/early 2025.
“I am thrilled to lead this special and timely charge,” Ms. Scott said. “It will be an honor to bring out the unique stories of the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance, and the long fight for justice in the North, from early African American communities to the current Black Lives Matter era. Harlem – as one of the many Northern destinations of the Great Migration, the birthplace of the National Urban League and a center of this vibrant history – is the perfect place to launch these stories.”
Prior to her appointment with the Urban Civil Rights Museum, Ms. Scott held the inaugural role of Senior Vice President of Exhibitions and Programs at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, one of the nation’s earliest and most significant black history museums.
She previously served as Museum Director & Chief Curator of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum in Chicago, where she was appointed by Mayor Lightfoot to serve on to the City of Chicago’s Cultural Advisory Council and to co-chair the Chicago Monuments Project Advisory Committee – a commission created to help rethink the city’s monuments and public art works. Illinois Governor JB Pritzker appointed her to the newly re-activated Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission to provide guidance for genocide education, public memorial, and commemoration across the State.
Ms. Scott worked for a decade as the Vice Director and Director of Research at Weeksville Heritage Center, a nationally significant historic site in Brooklyn that memorializes a Free Black, independent community in the 19th century. She was part of the leadership team that helped to restore and re-interpret the historic site and develop its trademark innovative programming, community engagement and new interpretations of history, culture, and the arts. She helped to build a new $40 million modern center on the site and transform the emerging campus into a present-day cultural destination.
As an assistant professor at The New School for Public Engagement in New York for more than 20 years, Ms. Scott teaches courses in arts and civic engagement, cultural anthropology, race and ethnic studies, global studies, and museum studies. She researches, writes, and lectures locally and internationally on arts and social change, memory and place, contested histories, and innovative strategies for museums and public history sites.
Ms. Scott holds degrees from Stanford University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.