On September 24th 2016, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in Washington, D.C. It's been a long time coming. Truly. But, it is here, and it is a sight to behold. It was incredibly important to me to become a member of the museum and donate money to the efforts to open it. Due to my status as a member, I was luckily able to secure a ticket to the opening weekend of the NMAAHC. It's hard to describe what I witnessed. The museum itself is best described as a somber celebration. It does not gloss over the challenges and tragedy Black folks have endured in this country. But, it does find a way to honor some amazing accomplishments, such as the election of President Obama. What might have been even more compelling to witness was the emotions of the people in attendance. I don't not believe I have ever been in the presence of so many other Black folks. And it gave me such a feeling of warmth. They were young and old, from near and far, smiling and teary-eyed. This museum means so much to so many people. To me, it's a reminder of how far we have come, how much people have sacrificed, and how much I have to teach my daughter. I had a moment when I paused to soak in the moment. I just happened to stop in front of a huge wall that was decorated with I, Too by Langston Hughes. This poem means so much to me. As a student, it was the first time I connected to poetry. As a Black male, it took the work of a Black writer to let me know that what I was experiencing in my life was not unique. The work of Langston Hughes remains relevant to this day and to see his work featured so prominently brought me to tears. As I wept, an older woman came over and embraced me. She never spoke a word as she rocked me back and forth, but I was able to thank her. That's what this museum means. Here are photos that I took from my visit.
I look forward to returning to NMAAHC in December, this time with my wife and daughter. If you have yet to visit, check the museum's website for information about ticketing for 2017.
Update: I made it back to D.C. and the museum with my family!