On September 24, 2016, history will be made as President Barack Obama opens The National Museum of African American History, the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. The museum will be a place where all Americans can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience, what it means to their lives and how it helped shape the United States. Located on the National Mall, the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution was established by an Act of Congress in 2003, following a century of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans.
The museum houses 11 galleries, that tell the story of the 17th century trans-Atlantic slave trade, 1960s civil rights crusade, the birth of black art, stories of segregated military service, the re-election of the nation’s first black president and the grass-roots Black Lives Matter movement. The museum also houses 36,000 historical items that include: wrought-iron ankle shackles, an 1850 slave’s ID badge, pennies charred by the 1921 Tulsa riot, and fiery author James Baldwin’s handwritten notes.
According to Director Lonnie G. Bunch III, “this Museum will tell the American story through the lens of African American history and culture. This is America’s Story and this museum is for all Americans. It will become a place that transcends the boundaries of race and culture that divide us, and become a lens into a story that unites.”
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. -Barack Obama