The National Museum of African American History and Culture, the 19th Smithsonian museum, is set to open in Washington, DC, in 2015. At Wednesday’s ground-breaking ceremony on the National Mall, President Obama said the museum will rose on ground where “lives were once traded, where hundreds of thousands once marched for jobs and for freedom. It was here that the pillars of democracy were built often by black hands.”
The museum, a 7-level structure with much of its exhibit space below ground, will sit between the Washington Monument and the National Museum of American History. According to the new museum’s director, Lonnie Bunch, it will be the new home for more than 30,000 artifacts, including Harriet Tubman’s shawl, a Jim Crow-era segregated railroad car and Emmett Till’s casket, as well as galleries devoted to military, sports and entertainment history.
As our country’s history of racial inequality and segregation recedes slowly into the past, generations of future Washington, DC visitors will find it hard to fathom a time when African-Americans did not have the same rights as white Americans. But the civil rights movement isn’t just history. It’s part of the recent past, especially for those who can still recall a time when they had to move to the back of the bus, attend different schools and drink from separate water fountains.
We all learn about Lincoln and Jefferson in school, but none of us were alive to witness their accomplishments. That’s what makes the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial so unique. For many visitors, the struggle for racial equality is an all-too-recent memory. It’s deeply personal, especially for those who lived through the marches and heard the speeches of the civil rights movement.
Jim Abercrombie, a DC resident who has visited the memorial many times since it officially opened this past August, says, “[The memorial] means more to us because of the struggle we saw [MLK] go through to try to bring people together and have peace, and he finally got recognized for it.”
Hundreds of people lined up today to be the first to visit MLK Memorial, a national landmark dedicated Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the pioneers of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. King is the first non-president and first African-American to be memorialized on the National Mall in Washington, DC.
The Memorial includes a 30-foot statue of the civil rights leader, and 14 quotes from his speeches hand-carved into a 450-foot granite wall.
President Obama is scheduled to speak at the memorial’s formal dedication on Sunday, Aug. 28. Organizers believe more than a half million people will attend the dedication ceremony this weekend.
Plan your next vacation to see other historic sites in the US. Check out Travel Channel’s History USA travel ideas.
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