In light of the recent groundbreaking for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, which is the 19th museum of the Smithsonian Institution, BlackEnterprise.com secured images of some of the many artifacts that will fill the five-acre site, set to open in 2015. Here’s a journey through our past. —Derek T. Dingle
Muhammad Ali Headgear, 5th Street Gym, c. 1960s
“The Greatest” spent his formative years in this gym and the surrounding neighborhood that had a dynamic mixture of race, politics and culture. In these early years, Cassius Clay began the transformation into Muhammad Ali.
Louis Armstrong’s Selmer Trumpet; Paris, c. 1930
This trumpet was owned By Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, considered an improvisational genius in jazz who taught the world to swing. He continues to have a profound impact on music to this day.
Bill of Sale, Dec. 23, 1835
This is an official copy of a receipt for the sale of Polly, a 16-year-old girl, for $600. This bill of sale transferred ownership from Martin Bridgeman to Wm H. Mood (both from Jackson County, a territory of Arkansas).
Middle Passage Shackles (wrought iron), c. pre-1863
Ankle shackles of the type used to restrain enslaved people aboard ships crossing the Atlantic from Africa to the Americas.
Chuck Berry’s Cadillac, c. 1973
“The Father of Rock & Roll” included this vehicle in his personal fleet of Cadillacs. Driven during the filming of the 1987 documentary Hail! Hail! Rock ’n’ Roll, the car was Berry’s gift to the NMAAHC.
Harriet Tubman’s Hymn Book, c. 1876
Gospel Hymns No. 2, by P. P. Bliss and Ira D. Sankey.
This personal book of the famous Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman, who was credited with helping hundreds escape slavery. The book is a gift to the museum from Charles Blockson, a philanthropist who has one of the largest private collections of such artifacts and whose ancestors escaped with Tubman.
Rosa Parks’ Dress, c. 1955
Rosa Parks was making the garment shortly before her arrest for not giving up her seat on a segregated bus—the event that sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and placed the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement. The dress is part of the Black Fashion Museum Collection that was donated to NMAAHC.
Nat Turner’s Bible, 1830s
This is the Bible that was owned by owned by Nat Turner, a slave who led a rebellion in Virginia in 1831, resulting in the largest number of fatalities in a single uprising prior to the Civil War.
Michael Jackson’s Fedora, c. 1992
Michael Jackson wore his legendary fedora during the 1984 Victory Tour—the same year he won a record eight Grammys for the mega-hit Thriller album.
Tuskegee Airplane, Boeing-Stearman PT-13D Kaydet, c. 1944
This vintage, open-cockpit biplane was used at Alabama’s renowned Tuskegee Institute to train Black fighter pilots during World War II.