Anacostia Community Museum’s street team “The Activators” (from left): Maps Glover, Sol Michelle, Skye Ellis and Brandon “B Doug” Douglas. (Photo by Andrea Jones)
Anacostia Community Museum’s street team “The Activators” (from left): Maps Glover, Sol Michelle, Skye Ellis and Brandon “B Doug” Douglas. (Photo by Andrea Jones)

Meet Skye, B Doug, Sol Michelle, and Maps – the wildly talented squad breaking new ground at the Anacostia Community Museum. Together they form “The Activators,” an experimental street team created during the pandemic out of a need to educate beyond the museum’s walls.

The Activators set up these two painted black doors on the corner of Morris Road and MLK Avenue in southeast D.C. as a way to start conversation about racial barriers. (Photo by Andrea Jones)

Using the city like a museum exhibit, Skye and B Doug started conversations about the persistence of segregation from the past to the present day. They set up two painted black doors on the sidewalk as a way to attract curious pedestrians and as a symbol of the threshold that used to exist.

This interaction on the streets is what we call an “activation” because we activate the museum experience in the world around us. We accept that some people will never enter the doors of our building – but that doesn’t mean we can’t meet them where they live, work, and play.

The Activators surprised pedestrians on the street with tiny crowns in honor of CROWN Day and the right to wear natural and protective Black hair styles without fear of discrimination. (Photo by Andrea Jones)

On the first anniversary of Washington D.C.’s recognition of CROWN Day, Activators Maps and Sol found a few unsuspecting folks on the streets who were wearing natural and protective hairstyles and surprised them with tiny golden crowns. CROWN stands for “Creating an Open and Respectful World for Natural hair.” The CROWN Act, first passed in California, prohibits hair discrimination in schools and workplaces. People were excited about these tiny tokens of appreciation and talked to the Activators about their unapologetically Black hairstyles.

They successfully distributed CDs from trunks of cars, street corners, and local record shops.

As a museum, our street team has a slightly different purpose. We’re coming to the streets with a more educational purpose. But the idea is the same – to go out and find our audiences where they are.

The Anacostia Community Museum has been finding new ways to reach communities for 55 years. The street team may be a new initiative, but being connected with the people of Washington, D.C., is in our DNA.

Follow the Activators’ adventures on Instagram Reels (@SmithsonianACM) or in your neighborhood!

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