The National Museum of African-American History & Culture opened Saturday with a ceremony befitting it’s importance. Rev. Howard-John Wesley, pastor of Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia said that this museum “Symbolizes all of the contributions, the culture and the crisis of black America. It’s a beautiful thing, especially in this day and time when we’re fighting to remind ourselves how important black lives are.”
The museum holds more than 3,000 items, including exhibits of an authentic slave cabin from a plantation in South Carolina, a Tuskegee Airmen training plane , the casket of Emmett Till, Chuck Berry’s candy-apple red 1973 Cadillac Eldorado, and nine of the ten Olympic medals won by Carl Lewis.
Descend into the lowest level. The exhibits start with the trans-Atlantic slave trade and goes to Emancipation. Along the way you will see a whip used aboard slave ships, an auction block where slaves were sold, and Nat Turner’s Bible.
The next level and ramps cover segregation to today. They include a rail car from the Southern Railway which shows the different accommodations for white and black passengers, who paid the same fare.
Above ground are floors 3 and 4. Here you will find African-American achievements in the fields of music, art, sports, the military, and other areas highlighted. From these levels visitors can look out and view the Washington Monument, Arlington National Cemetery, the White House, and the National Mall.
In his dedication of the museum, President Obama said, “Hopefully, this museum will help us to talk to each other, and more importantly listen to each other, and most importantly see each other.”
The dedication ceremony ended with the oldest and the youngest members of the Bonner family, who are descendants of slaves, ringing the Freedom Bell to officially open the Smithsonian’s new museum.
A trip to Washington, D.C. to see the National Museum of African-American History and Culture is a must. The museum is power packed, absorbing, and filled with exhibits that will elicit a wide range of emotions.