First African-American Museum in U.S. Opens

By Tyler Williams

Staff Writer

(TEANECK) – On Sept. 24 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) officially opened in Washington D.C. According to the NMAAHC website, it is a Smithsonian museum that was established on Dec. 19, 2003.

This museum is known for representing past and present African American events that include arts, community, slavery, religion, segregation, family and civil rights. Its opening ceremony was led by President Barack Obama to inaugurate the museum to the public, according to The Washington Post.

This historical museum is 400,000 square-feet that is filled with more than 36,000 artifacts. The crowd was an estimated 7,000 official guests, according to The Washington Post.

The museum was originally proposed for more than 100 years.

“This national museum helps to tell a richer and fuller story of who we are,” Obama said. “It helps us better understand the lives of yes, the president, but also the slave. The industrialist but also the porter. The keeper of the status quo but also the activist seeking to overthrow that status quo.”

Obama’s quote gives a general idea of African American history. The museum exists to both memorialize and educate this history, sharing the “unvarnished truth” of America’s past and celebrating the triumphs of its present, according to The Washington Post.

The attendees of the museum were satisfied by the representation of the past and present. But it was inspiring and disheartening at the same time.

“What’s depressing is not so much that it happened, but that it’s still happening,” one attendee said as she stood by the coffin of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old was murdered by white men in Mississippi in 1955, according to the New York Times.

Another attendee had a perspective about the museum in an inspiring way.

“We are now able to have ourselves be defined by our selves,” said Sandra Taylor, 51, a business consultant from New Bern, N.C.

“I’ve been elated, I’ve been proud. Informed is not an emotion, but I have just been inspired by so many stories,” said Taylor.

Obama talked about the context of the museum itself, saying the museum provides “context for the debates of our time and is a place to understand how protest and love of country don’t merely coexist but inform each other,” according to National Public Radio.

The future events at the museum offer various opportunities to the people who would like to get involved. Becoming a volunteer plays an essential role in inspiring and engaging audiences, according to the NMAAHC website. People can also become vendors, members, and donors for the museum.

The hours of operation of the museum is open 7 days a week, 364 days a year. The regular operating hours are from 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

The entry to all Smithsonian museums including the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. is free, according to the NMAAHC website. For more information about visiting the museum, call 1-844-750-3012.