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Obama Opens Washington's New African American Museum

Image: Obama Opens Washington's New African American Museum

(AP)

Saturday, 24 Sep 2016 12:27 PM

President Barack Obama heralded Saturday the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, an institution dedicated to the many threads of black history and achievement.

The first black president of the United States cut the ribbon to inaugurate the striking 400,000-square-foot (37,000-square-meter) bronze-clad edifice before thousands of spectators who had gathered in the nation's capital to witness the historic opening.

"Beyond the majesty of the building, what makes this occasion so special is the larger story it contains," said Obama -- just a few months before he leaves office -- at the star-studded public ceremony that included the likes of Stevie Wonder and Oprah Winfrey.

"African-American history is not somehow separate from our larger American story. It's not the underside of the American story," he said.

"It is central to the American story."

The Smithsonian's 19th and latest addition to its sprawling museum and research complex is the first national museum tasked with documenting the uncomfortable truths of the country's systematic oppression of black people, while also honoring the integral role of African-American culture.

"A clear-eyed view of history can make us uncomfortable," Obama said. "It will shake us out of familiar narratives."

"But it is precisely of that discomfort that we learn and grow and harness our collective power to make this nation more perfect. That's the American story that this museum tells."

The dramatic building -- set in a prime location near the White House and the Washington Monument -- features three inverted-pyramid tiers sheathed in bronze-painted filigree panels that house more than 34,000 objects, nearly half of them donated.

The museum -- which was first conceived of a century ago -- opens amid ever-heightening racial tensions, as national outrage grows over the spate of deaths of black men at the hands of police.

"This is the place to understand how protests and love of country don't merely coexist, but inform each other," Obama said. "Even in the face of unimaginable difficulty, America has moved forward. And so this museum provides context for the debates of our times."

 

© AFP 2017

 
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President Barack Obama heralded Saturday the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, an institution dedicated to the many threads of black history and achievement.
US, museum, AfricanAmerican, culture, history, open
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2016-27-24
Saturday, 24 Sep 2016 12:27 PM
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