Smithsonian to Open New Museum Honoring African American History and Culture


People like Ida B. Wells-Barnett and W.E.B. DuBois will be featured in a new museum built by the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. (Photos courtesy Public Domain, Flickr, and the Library of Congress.)

I’ve always loved history. There’s something thrilling about learning where we come from, reading the stories about our ancestors and learning how similar they are to us today, and discovering how past events shaped the world we live in now. That’s why I am excited to tell  you that the Smithsonian is currently building a brand new museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. that is slated to open in 2015.

The new addition to the Smithsonian family is the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It will stand beside the Washington Monument and will contain a growing collection of more than 18,150 African American artifacts and treasures.

Like the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (also on the National Mall) and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, this new museum isn’t just for a specific race, but for all of us. The museum will tell the stories that shaped our nation, introducing us to people who made a big impact on history and affected life as we know it.

According to Director Lonnie G. Bunch, we’ll learn about people like Ida B. Wells-Barnett, a woman who “blazed a trail Rosa Parks would follow more than 70 years later. In 1884, Wells-Barnett successfully sued the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company for moving her from first-class to the “Jim Crow” car.”

Then there are men like W.E.B. DuBois, who Bunch says “was the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1895. A tireless champion of the rights of all people of African descent, DuBois’s achievements still resonate and inspire today.”

With stories like these unfolding around every corner, in the midst of every exhibit, the museum is destined to open our minds and hearts to the challenges African Americans faced before they discovered freedom, as they fought for equality, and as they sought to be recognized as men and women who loved and learned, nurtured and transformed the culture of America.

I’m sure this new facility will be another inspiring hall of reminiscence and education, much like the Freedom Center and the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. As Oprah Winfrey always says, “When we know better, we do better.” This new venue will definitely encourage all of us to rise up, show respect and truly value the African American people as a whole.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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