Claire Dougherty and Savannah Herring
The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) was established in 2003, and officially opened on Sept. 24, 2016. The Smithsonian museum presents “A People's’ Journey,” containing close to 37,000 artifacts related to African American History subjects such as community, family, the arts, religion, civil rights, slavery and segregation.
The opening ceremony, held by President Obama and several other distinguished guests, honored more than simply “powerful moments in African American history, culture, and community.” The President stated that “what makes this occasion so special is the larger story it contains.” As he and several other speakers noted, there is great significance in the opening of this museum for the black community. It is an enormous accomplishment for Americans. Efforts to establish a national museum devoted to African American History initially began as early as 1915. Despite this, very little progress was made towards the creation of such an organization, and the efforts made were hardly recognized until the 1970s. In 1988, legislative pressure began and authorization of the museum was made official in 2003. Three years late, in 2006, a site was decided on, and progress took off.
As President Obama stated at the opening ceremony, the building itself, designed by David Adjaye, is “surely a sight to behold.” Located in the National Mall, the museum is ten stories--five above ground and five below ground--of sheer excellence. McKissack & McKissack, the first African American-owned architectural firm in the United States, provided project management services on behalf of the Smithsonian. Their services resulted in what some consider to be one of the grandest museums in America and one of the most beautiful buildings in DC.
Every piece in the museum is worthy of being recognized, but some of the more attention grabbing pieces includes the glass-topped casket originally used to display and bury the body of 14-year-old Emmett Till, the victim of racially motivated torture and murder in Mississippi. Till's death sparked the 1950s and '60s African American Civil Rights Movement. Other notable pieces include a badge from 1850, worn by an African American in Charleston, S.C., indicating that the wearer was a slave, and Muhammad Ali's boxing gloves.Surely, in order to get a full understanding of the excellence of the museum, one must pay it a visit. Unfortunately, if you’re like most Americans, and you have a burning desire to see the exhibit, you still must wait until March at the earliest.. Since Sept. 24, the museum has been packed and will continue to be packed. Still, tickets are being sold at an alarmingly fast rate.