Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Brings His Passion for Invention to Smithsonian

Part of the Innovative Lives Series Showcasing Innovation Influencers

Sitting portrait of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Editor’s Note: News media interested in covering the program should RSVP to Laura Havel at havell@si.edu.

The Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation will welcome Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, basketball legend, Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient and New York Times bestselling author, to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History for a special program Feb. 8. The free evening program is currently fully subscribed.

Abdul-Jabbar will participate in the Center’s “Innovative Lives” series from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. for a conversation exploring his motivation to write his recent children’s book What Color Is My World: The Lost History of African-American Inventors and highlighting unsung heroes who shared a desire to improve people’s lives. The conversation will include a deep dive into his passion for innovation, the contribution of black inventors to American history and how to encourage youth today to participate in technology and science to make a difference in the world. The program will be moderated by Ray Fouché, associate professor and director of American studies at Purdue University.

Doors open at 6 p.m., a Q&A will follow the talk and the audience is invited to attend a light reception at the program’s conclusion. Waitlist registration is available through http://bit.ly/2DXLbtX. Tickets will not be available at the door.

Abdul-Jabbar will sign copies of his book in the museum’s innovation wing on the first floor from 3 to 4 p.m. Copies of the book will be available for sale prior to the book signing. The daytime book signing is open to the public, no tickets or registration required.

“We are truly excited that Abdul-Jabbar will be here to share personal stories that lead to his lifetime passion for innovation,” said Arthur Daemmrich, director of the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation housed at the National Museum of American History. “The Lemelson Center’s vision is a world where everyone feels empowered to be inventive and contribute to innovation, and his story is inspirational to and illustrative of that vision.”

About Innovative Lives

A public program series produced by the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation in Washington, D.C., “Innovative Lives” fosters dialogue between the public and inventors. Part of the Lemelson Center’s vision of a more inventive world, “Innovative Lives” programs feature diverse inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs talking about their pioneering work and careers in an informal setting. Invited speakers share the stories behind their work, including key inspirations, their personal invention process, failures encountered and pathways to success, all while framing a discussion around how the public can participate in technology change. Information is available at http://invention.si.edu/about/events.

About the Lemelson Center

The Lemelson Center engages, educates and empowers the public to participate in technological, economic and social change. The center undertakes historical research, develops educational initiatives, creates exhibitions and hosts public programming to advance new perspectives on invention and innovation and to foster interactions between the public and inventors. The Lemelson Hall of Invention and Innovation, featuring Draper Spark!Lab, “Places of Invention” and “Inventive Minds,” is a signature part of the National Museum of American History’s 45,000-square-foot space centered on the theme of innovation. For more information, visit http://invention.si.edu.


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Laura Havel


(202) 633-3312