/An awakening at new African American museum

An awakening at new African American museum

The National Museum of African American History and Culture, one of the Smithsonian Institution’s newest museums, is the most popular ticket in Washington, D.C. It was a surprise to me that I would be one of the first to visit the museum. The museum has received an average of 6,000 visitors per day since opening on Sept. 24, and between 8,000 and 8,500 weekends. Through March 2017, all reserved tickets were sold. Every day, hundreds of people queue up for the few remaining same-day tickets. Many people have to stop and admire the magnificent facade. It was partly inspired by a Yoruba wood sculpture, Olowe of Ise. A king-like figure is seen inside the museum wearing a similar three-level, inverted pyramid headdress. The museum’s 36,000 artifacts, spread over 420,000 square feet, tell the unique story of African-American culture and history, from the history of slavery to the present day. My documentary film, The Fly in the Buttermilk, was screened at the Harbor Institute’s 7th Annual Roadtrip, two weeks after it opened. Washington leadership conference for members of culturally-based fraternities. The fly in the buttermilk, which was completed in April, examines experiences of black Greek letter organisations on predominantly white campuses. Harbor Institute founder Rasheed Ali Cromwell organizes trips for conference attendees to Washington cultural exhibitions to examine the larger picture of social responsibility. The National Museum of African American History and Culture was our destination. I had seen the televised coverage from the grand opening ceremony. My family and me cheered on President Obama’s dedication speech from Jackson. Celebrities posted glowing reviews on social media about their experiences with the exhibits. I honestly didn’t know what I was in for when I entered the museum. As I walked through the museum, I encountered many people from all walks of life, including those who were older, more educated, and with different backgrounds. All of them shared one thing: a quick look of sympathy when I mentioned I was from Mississippi. Sometimes I felt frustrated and sad as I walked from exhibit to exhibit. I was ultimately inspired by the many achievements of African-American women and men who were proud, loud, and black in Mississippi. Ida B., one of my greatest role models. Medgar Evers and Fannie Lou Hamer, my biggest role models, inspired me to keep working towards fairness, civility, and service to all humanity. My ancestry was also challenged by the museum. Many names of married slave couples were written in an old journal that was hidden behind a glass wall. I was immediately intrigued by their names and wondered about my African-American heritage. What did I learn about my family’s history beyond what I had read in the oral histories of great-grandparents? My ancestors were born where is home? The National Museum of African American History and Culture gave me a feeling of belonging. Now, I’m on the hunt for my forebears.