America’s first national museum dedicated to African-American history and culture opened Saturday with emotional but joyful words from the country’s first black president, who said he hoped the stories contained inside will help everyone “walk away that much more in love” with their country.
CCTV America’s Sean Callebs reports.
New Smithsonian museum chronicling black history opensAmerica's first national museum dedicated to African-American history and culture opened Saturday with emotional but joyful words from the country's first black president, who said he hoped the stories contained inside will help everyone "walk away that much more in love" with their country. CCTV America's Sean Callebs reports.
In an impassioned speech, President Barack Obama pointed out the highs and lows of being black in America, from slavery and Jim Crow segregation to voting rights and economic leaders. That duality lingers still, Obama said, through successes such as his presidency, and trials such as the police killings of black men.
“We are not a burden on America. Or a stain on America … we are America. And that’s what this museum explains,” Obama said.
He and first lady Michelle Obama joined Ruth Bonner, a 99-year-old direct descendent of a slave, and her family as they rang a bell from the historic First Baptist Church of Williamsburg, Virginia, to signal that the museum was officially open.
A shining bronze-colored beacon on the National Mall, only steps away from the White House and the Washington Monument, the new Smithsonian chronicles the complex relationship between the United States and a people it once enslaved and tells the story of those who worked at the changes necessary to bring the country to where it is today.
Thousands gathered on the National Mall to watch the museum officially open its doors and to be among the first inside — if they were lucky enough to get the much-coveted opening day tickets.
The museum is the 19th and the newest of the Smithsonians.
The push for the museum began in 1915 with African-American Civil War veterans looking for a way to commemorate America’s black experience. Former President George W. Bush signed the law authorizing the construction in 2003.
Georgia Congressman John Lewis co-sponsored legislation authorizing the museum. The civil rights icon said the bronze-colored museum “is more than a building, it is a dream come true.”
Story by the Associated Press.
Journalist Ray Baker on African American Museum opening
For more on African American Museum opening, CCTV America’s Susan Roberts spoke to Journalist Ray Baker.