Oct
21

A People’s Journey, A Nation’s Story: The Grand Opening

The long-awaited opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture generated worldwide attention. We’ve gathered some of the most interesting, compelling and thought-provoking coverage of the museum’s grand opening Sept. 24, 2016.

 

Dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Sept. 24, 2016


Text of Obama’s remarks at museum dedication

The Washington Post via Associated Press, Sept 24, 2016

Mrs Obama wipes away a tear; president at podium in foreground

First lady Michelle Obama wipes her eyes as she listens to her husband, President Obama, speak at the dedication ceremony. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Text of President Barack Obama’s remarks on Saturday at the dedication of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, as provided by the White House. Read full text.


Bridging past and present, the African American Museum opening is a dynamic celebration

The Washington Post, Sept. 24, 2016

crowds behind barricades, museum in background

Sept. 24, 2016 | Hundreds stand in line to enter the new African American Museum. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

In a dim, quiet backroom in the National Museum of African American History and Culture, a gray-haired man paused in front of a bronze casket, and he stood to pay his last respects to Emmett Till.

“Jesus,” whispered the man, a retired college administrator named Samuel L. Wright. He leaned forward. He saw that behind the glass, inside the coffin, lay a picture of the disfigured face of Till, a 14-year-old boy who was lynched in 1955 for the alleged offense of flirting with a white woman. “That was something terrible,” Wright said. Behind him, the next person moved quietly forward to see the terrible artifact of history, and another person after that. Read more from Monica Hesse and Krissah Thompson for The Washington Post.


Photos and Scenes From the African American History Museum’s Opening Day

Washingtonian, Sept. 24, 2016

Sun sets behind Washington monument, one person sitting in row of empty chairs

Photo by Evy Mages

Read the live blog of opening day from Washingtonian staff.


Michelle and George: The Embrace Seen Around the World

The New York Times, Sept. 25, 2016

First lady hugs former president as their spouses look on

Michelle Obama hugged George W. Bush on Saturday at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. (Credit Al Drago/The New York Times)

Maybe it was the unexpected warmth of the gesture, the sheer enveloping display of affection.

Maybe it was his response, the beatific expression on his face, eyes almost closed, head tilted toward her shoulder.

Maybe it was the moment: tenderness at a time when presidential politics has become a festival of cruelty.

But when Michelle Obama hugged former President George W. Bush on Saturday, at a ceremony to open the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the image quickly took flight online. Read more from Mark Landler for The New York Times.


‘We did it’: Read John Lewis’s emotional speech at the African American Museum opening

The Washington Post, Sept. 24, 2016

Screenshot from video of Lewis at NMAAHC grand opening

Civil rights icon, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) exclaimed “we did it” during his remarks at the opening ceremony of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Sept. 24. In 1988, Lewis introduced legislation to establish the museum. (The Washington Post)

Fifteen years ago, civil rights activist and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) took over the effort to get legislation passed to establish a National Museum of African American History and Culture, and fought for it every year since — on the day of the museum’s official opening, here were his remarks: Read more from Emily Yahr for The Washington Post.


Descended from a slave, this family helped to open the African American Museum with Obama

The Washington Post, Sept. 25, 2016

Screenshot from WaPo video of opening ceremony

Ruth Odom Bonner, 99, and four generations of her family, joined President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama to ring the bell to officially open the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on Saturday, Sept. 24. (The Washington Post; Photo: AP)

The United States’ first African American president was center stage at the opening ceremony of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Saturday. He was a symbol of the country’s progress, but he wanted to remind the audience of the nation’s not-so-distant past.

“Routine discrimination and Jim Crow aren’t ancient history,” Obama said. “It’s just a blink in the eye of history. It was just yesterday.”

And then, onto the stage came living proof of his words: Read more from Jessica Contrera for The Washington Post.


The African American Museum reminds me that ‘I, too, am America’

The Washington Post, Sept. 26, 2016

Obama at podium with orange background

President Obama speaks at the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Saturday in Washington (Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

Long before I plopped down on my seat at the opening celebration for the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Saturday, I was weary. Weary of the police-involved killings of African Americans. Weary of the onslaught of dashcam, cellphone and Facebook live videos of the last moments of someone’s life. Weary of feeling like not even the grace of God stands between me and a fatal encounter with law enforcement one day. Weary of feeling like a misunderstood brother in a large, raucous family. Read more from Jonathan Capehart for The Washington Post.


Throughout a packed weekend of celebrating the African American Museum, the A-list crowd kept the parties in perspective

The Washington Post, Sept. 25, 2016

Close up of actree

Actress Lupita Nyong’o waits in line during the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Saturday in Washington. (Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

It was a weekend unlike any other. The phrase “mini-inauguration” was used a lot, as a sort of shorthand for the extraordinary mix of star power, political swagger and public fervor. But it was more than that.

For the A-listers who flocked to Washington for the historic opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, there was a dichotomy: the weight of the moment juxtaposed with the fizz of a packed schedule of glittering parties. Read more from Helena Andrews-Dyer and Emily Heil for The Washington Post.


Pride and Pain on Opening Day at a Museum of African-American History

The New York Times, Sept. 26, 2016

Crowds snap selfies in front of exhibit

The Mothership made famous by Parliament-Funkadelic, at the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. ( Justin T. Gellerson for The New York Times )

They arrived here by the thousands in rented buses and on foot, in wheelchairs and strollers, with church groups and college friends.

Multiple generations of African-Americans came to review the arc of history on stark and uplifting display at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which was open for its first full day on Sunday.

People snapped selfies with Rosa Parks’s mug shot and studied artifacts like Harriet Tubman’s shawl. They lingered over verses by Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou inscribed on the walls. They read out text about the literal prices paid for families torn apart by slavery, tracing and celebrating their own complicated lineage. Read more from Melena Ryzik for The New York Times.


Posted: 21 October 2016
About the Author:

Alex di Giovanni has been editing The Torch since August 2006. Prior to joining the Smithsonian, she worked as a writer and editor for the National Geographic Society, Plexus Scientific, The Nature Conservancy, The National Foreign Language Center and St. Martin’s Press, among others. She has the best job in the world.