A new national museum devoted to black American history and culture is being built in Washington DC. When it opens three years from now, Black History will have a permanent home and headquarters in this country for the first time.
Some time today, President Barack Obama will break ground on the National Mall to officially begin construction of the latest in the Smithsonian Institution’s grand collection of museums:
The National Museum of African American History and Culture.
You can read an Associated Press story about the plans for and progress toward the new museum here.
To borrow a few appropriate words from Abraham Lincoln, it is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this, especially during Black History Month.
There are those who wonder, often with resentment and sometimes aloud, why the concept of Black History exists at all, why it’s treated as something apart from American history. The answer is simple.
For most of this nation’s history, the important contributions of black Americans to the progress, prosperity and power of these United States were demeaned, diminished or ignored outright.
One of the ways you convince people that they are nothing is to lead them to believe that they come from nothing, that they have no legacy worth remembering. That is what has been done to black Americans for most of our history.
For one month out of 12 — and the shortest month of the year, at that — Black History Month highlights Americans whose achievements and contributions have been glossed over — or in some quarters, even denied — throughout our history.
It is, in short, a belated attempt to right a 200-year-old wrong.
And now, there’s going to be a museum of national stature that does the same thing for the other 11 months of the year, right in the nation’s capital.
School kids who want to learn about that heritage and scholars who wish to explore it in depth and detail will have a place to work and learn. Foreign visitors to this country who wonder if there is more to black America than professional athletics and music videos will find their answer there.
The museum is scheduled to open in 2015. When it does finally open its doors, every black family in America should visit. It’s yet another reason to drink in the history and heritage of America that live and breathe in Washington DC.
It also will make a wonderful introduction to the Smithsonian, which quietly goes about its business as perhaps one of the greatest repositories of history and culture anywhere in the world.
As travelers, we hear all the time about the Louvre in Paris, the Prado in Madrid, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, the British Museum in London, Mexico City’s Museo Nacional del Antropologia. All of them are expansive and wondrous in their content, all of them worthy of being explored at length.
And all of them pale in size and scope compared with the Smithsonian, which happens to be the largest complex and network of museums on Earth.
If there’s any aspect of American life that interests or intrigues you, there’s a good chance the Smithsonian has at least one museum dedicated to it. You literally could spend a lifetime delving into the institution and all it has to offer.
Edited by P.A.Rice