Tuesday, June 18, 2019

National Museum of African American History & Culture

During personal time on a work trip to Washington, D.C., I had the privilege of visiting the National Museum of African American Heritage & Culture. I’ve taken some time to consider what to write about my experience, because I did not want to appropriate or claim a single piece of it as my own. It is not mine, and it’s an undeniable part of our history and culture as Americans. And I wanted to tell my friends, you. must. go.

It is one of the most moving museums I’ve seen in the world in my lifetime. I spent hours there yet couldn’t see everything or read every word. I cried. I smiled. And I honestly left feeling exhausted.

I started with history, and I was taken underground in one of the biggest elevators I have ever seen. I made my way up three floors covering centuries of history, learning how the economies of so many countries and the outcomes of so many wars were built and won on the backs and lives of so many black and enslaved Americans. I paid my respects at the Emmett Till Memorial, wondering if as the mother of a son I could ever be so brave as Mamie, especially as violence and racism have not ended even today. As you walk up through the history floors, you begin to see more light from above. The highest floors covering culture feel brightest, filled with optimism and pride.

I listened, and I tried to understand. I appreciated it the best I could.

If I had to pick a word that describes this museum, I would choose resilience. And if you’re ever in D.C., you absolutely need to see it.

(originally written for and posted to my personal Facebook profile)
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