• A Conversation with African American Museum’s Lonnie Bunch

    September 30, 2016 Leave a Comment

    AABUNCH — It was a day full of glitz and glamour as celebrities, elected officials, civil rights icons, three American presidents and tens of thousands gathered here Saturday to celebrate the historic opening of the The new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.  Prior to the opening, Howard University News Service reporter Maiyah Mayhan talked with Lonnie Bunch, the museum’s founding director, about its development and significance.  MIAYAH MAYHAN 500 WORDS

    AAMUSEUM — The opening of the National Museum of African American Culture and History was full of glitz and glamour as celebrities, elected officials, civil rights icons and three American presidents came together to celebrate the historic moment.  But even as President Barack Obama addressed thousands in a moving speech, actor Will Smith and entertainment mogul Oprah Winfrey read the poetry of Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou and Stevie Wonder and Patti LaBelle preformed classic songs, one thing was evident – the museum wouldn’t have existed without millions of black dollars.  It was thousands of black donors from across America giving amounts ranging from $1.50 to over $20 million that made the vision a reality.  VICTORIA JONES 1000 words  Please See Freddie Allen Photos from NNPA for art.

    Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, stands in front of the museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., July 26, 2016.  The institution is due to open in September. The outer shell, or corona, was designed to match the 17-degree angle of the capstone of the Washington Monument, behind. (photo by Allison Shelley for Smithsonian magazine)

    Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, stands in front of the museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., July 26, 2016. The institution is due to open in September. The outer shell, or corona, was designed to match the 17-degree angle of the capstone of the Washington Monument, behind. (photo by Allison Shelley for Smithsonian magazine)

    A Conversation with African American Museum’s Lonnie Bunch

    American and African-American History Re-imagined

    WASHINGTON — The new Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History

    and Culture opened formerly to the public Sept. 24.

    It was a day full of glitz and glamour as celebrities, elected officials, civil rights icons and

    three American presidents gathered to celebrate the historic moment.

    The museum features over 30,000 artifacts from the journey of the African-American in

    America – such as the shawl Harriet Tubman was by Queen Elizabeth, Nat Turner's

    Bible, Michael Jackson’s fedora, Whitney Houston’s dress, Emmitt Till’s casket and

    pieces from actual slave voyage ships.

    It also includes 77-ton segregated vintage railway car from the 19 century, a prison

    guard watch tower from Louisiana State Penitentiary Angola one of the largest

    maximum-security penitentiaries in America, and an original Tuskegee Airman airplane

    that was used in World War II.

    Prior to the opening, Howard University News Service reporter Maiyah Mayhan talked

    with Lonnie Bunch, the museum’s founding director, about its development and

    significance.

    Why is this museum important for the younger generation?

    LONNIE BUNCH: This museum is important for all, but especially the younger

    generation, because the goal of the museum is to give people historical tools to

    understand the world they're living in, to basically be motivated by struggle to make

    America better. One of the messages that you get in this museum is how young African

    Americans have died, sacrificed, marched, protested and changed American ways to

    the point where America could never go back to what it was.

    What’s your vision for the future of the National Museum of African American

    History and Culture?

    BUNCH: I want this museum to be in the future, not a community center, but the center

    of the community. I want it to allow people, both locally and around the country, to come

    see the issues we raise and wrestle with them. Race has always divided us. What we

    want to talk about is that we realize black lives matter is standing on shoulders, but it is

    standing on them in very different ways. So, we need to celebrate that as well. Part of

    what I'd like to do is make sure that this museum is part of the strategy to demand a

    freer and fairer America.

    In the past, you’ve mentioned that Black history is American history. What are

    some of the responses you’ve received from that?

    BUNCH: The goal was to say that while this is a story that gives an insider's perspective

    to African-American culture is also a story that basically is a broader story. That in some

    ways that I've argued the African-American culture is almost too big to just be in the

    hands of one community that in essence it shapes us all and I want people to know that.

    And in some ways what I'm simply doing is marketing back to Carter G Woodson and

    people in the 1920s who said African-Americans need to know their history beside it

    others.

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