September 24, 2016 marked the dedication and opening of the latest addition to the Smithsonian Institution: the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in our nation’s Capital.
It has taken a long time to get to this point. It is said that the idea to open a museum dedciated to the contributions of African Americans to our country was first brought forth by Civil War veterans in the 19th century. Yesterday President George W. Bush (who commissioned the museum in 2003) and President Barack Obama, along with First Ladies Laura Bush and Michelle Obama, assisted the dedication of the Museum, along with many notable African American celebrities, artists, and public figures such as Oprah, Stevie Wonder and Rep. John Lewis, among others.
The museum is now open to the public. It is majestic from the outside and (I’m sure) moving and heart-wrenching on the inside. Inside, there are 36,000 artifacts, including photographs, books, clothing, utensils, and much more that will help us understand the struggles and realities of the African American experience from the days of slavery until today.
COLLECTION OF THE SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE, GIFT OF THE EDISTO ISLAND HISTORIC PRESERVATION SOCIETY
This museum isn’t only for African Americans– it is about how the African American experience has shaped our nation. Because while at some point an African American man was considered 3/5 of a man, not even a whole person, there is no denying that African American culture is part of American culture– and has brought so much to the richness of our American mosaic. Imagine the USA without Oprah, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson or Beyonce? Imagine our food, music and every aspect of American life without the contributions of African Americans? What a boring country it would be.
This museum will serve to honor and recognize our past, because we cannot fix it, if we don’t acknowledge it. George W. Bush said these wise words during the Dedication of the Museum “Shows our commitment to truth. A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.”
African Americans have always been part of our country, even when the Founding Fathers didn’t even consider them whole people… they were fighting in the Revolution, they were fighting during the Civil War, and every single war– even though their ranks were segregated.
COLLECTION OF THE SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE
COLLECTION OF THE SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE, GIFT OF JAMES H WALLACE JR, © JIM WALLACE
As Founding Director Lonnie Bunch said — this museum isn’t only for African Americans — it is for America.
The Museum opened its doors with weekend-long festivities. Check it out by viewing hashtag #APeoplesJourney on Twitter. It is now open to the public. You can become a supporters