Tags: freedom bell | african-american | history | museum

African-American History Museum: Freedom Bell to Sound Its Opening

Image: African-American History Museum: Freedom Bell to Sound Its Opening

President Barack Obama will sound the Freedom Bell on Friday to honor the opening of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 22 Sep 2016 06:14 PM

President Barack Obama will ring the Freedom Bell to open the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African-American History and Culture at a ceremony on Friday, a bell that stood silent for most of the 20th century.

Cast in 1886 by the first baptist church organized only by African-Americans, the bell was commissioned by the ladies’ auxiliary to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Williamsburg, Virginia’s First Baptist Church, said the Smithsonian. The church was founded during the time of slavery, when African-American churches were often forbidden because slave owners feared allowing slaves to congregate and assemble.

The Freedom Bell spent much of the 20th century in disrepair as African-Americans struggled with Jim Crow laws and racial discrimination even though slavery had ended. Now, the 500-pound bell has been restored and will go back to the Williamsburg congregation after ringing in the opening of Smithsonian’s African-American history museum.

The restoration took place last year by the church and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, according to The Virginian-Pilot, and was unveiled in February for the church’s 240th anniversary. People were invited to ring the bell for racial healing, peace, and justice.

Current First Baptist Pastor the Rev. Reginald Davis traveled with the bell to Washington, D.C., for the historic museum opening.

“This bell represents the spirit of America,” Davis told Smithsonian Magazine. “Looking at our current climate of racial division, of government division, we feel that we need to ring this bell again and bring us all together and to remind us that we are one nation under God.”

The National Museum of African-American History and Culture opens Saturday with “Freedom Sounds: A Community Celebration,” a three-day festival of concerts and exhibits.

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President Barack Obama will ring the Freedom Bell to open the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African-American History and Culture at a ceremony on Friday, a bell that stood silent for most of the 20th century.
freedom bell, african-american, history, museum
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2016-14-22
Thursday, 22 Sep 2016 06:14 PM
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