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Museums and Civil Rights

Museums support Democracy Virtual Series

12 - 1:30 PM | Friday, February 25

Virtual webinar is free; advance registration required.

Click here to register

 ASL interpretation provided by Interpretek.


Cordell Reaves

Historic Preservation Programs Analyst

NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation

Cordell Reaves currently serves as a Historic Preservation Program Analyst with the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. He has a master’s degree from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Museum Studies and a background in African American History with over 20 years of experience at the agency, working with both historic sites and museums. He has worked developing educational programming and facilitating events that enable sites to narrate more complete and inclusive stories.

Cordell’s research interests cover a broad swath of New York State history: early Dutch settlement in New York, colonial slavery, the Underground Railroad, the anti-slavery movement and the Great Migration. He has lectured extensively on the relationship between tourism and historic sites and has worked with tourism professionals to share NYS history with a broader audience. He was instrumental in forming ties with the Dutch Consulate to promote shared cultural heritage between the Netherlands and New York.

Cordell was recently awarded the Herbert H. Lehman Prize for Distinguished Service in New York history from The New York Academy of History. He has also received the Huttleston Distinguished Service Award from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. In 2017, he was the recipient of the Outstanding Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion award from the State University of NY at Oneonta.

He currently sits on the advisory board for the Historic House Trust of New York City. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Troy, NY.

Sean Kelley

Senior Vice President

& Director of Interpretation

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site

Sean Kelley is Senior Vice President and Director of Interpretation at Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site in Philadelphia. He produced the site’s award-winning audio tour, now heard by more than a million visitors, and has curated more than 100 site-specific artist installations in the building. He conceived and developed The Big Graph, a 16-foot infographic sculpture that illustrates the skyrocketing US Rate of Incarceration, and curated the companion exhibit Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration which won the 2017 Overall Award for Excellence from the American Alliance of Museums. From 2017 to 2019 he oversaw “Hidden Lives Illuminated,” a project which resulted in 20 original films made by currently incarcerated individuals and projected them for a month onto Eastern State Penitentiary’s fa├žade.

Mr. Kelley visits active prisons and writes critically about prison museums and sites of detention. He speaks widely on the responsibility of museums to address controversial and painful subjects, as well as the ethical and management challenges posed by large-scale fundraising events in sites with complex histories. He has served as adjunct faculty at Rutgers University, teaching Museum Studies in the graduate program in Public History, and at the University of Pennsylvania.

Jerome Loach

Supervisor for Education and Partnerships

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site

Jerome A. Loach currently serves as the Supervisor for Education and Partnerships at Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site. He is a motivational speaker, activist, and community leader. He studied psychology at the University of Pittsburgh and is a minster of African spirituality as well as a licensed barber manager and teacher. Jerome has volunteered with organizations such as Stop the Violence, Get Out the Vote and, most recently, Mothers in Charge. He has received awards for his service and dedication from A Gift from God Ministries, the Inside-Out program at West Chester University, and SCI Chester. In 2019, he created the animated short film “Justice” as part of Eastern State Penitentiary’s Hidden Lives Illuminated series.

About Museum Hue

Museum Hue is a nationally recognized organization that works to paint a larger portrait of the arts and culture field by providing greater support and recognition for Black, Indigenous, and people of color throughout museums and other cultural entities across the United States. Founded in 2015, Museum Hue has partnered and collaborated with arts and culture entities throughout the nation. Visit





About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at:

About Humanities New York

Using dialogue, reflection, and critical thinking, Humanities New York applies the humanities to strengthen democratic society. Established in 1975 as the state aliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Humanities New York is a private 501(c)(3) organization that may receive federal, state, and private funding. Learn more at:

The Museum Association of New York helps shape a better future for museums and museum professionals by uplifting best practices and building organizational capacity through advocacy, training, and networking opportunities.

Museum Association of New York is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. 

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