On February 22, 2012, the groundbreaking for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, the 19th museum of the Smithsonian Institution, was held. Occupying a five-acre site adjacent to the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the site is scheduled to open in 2015. A host of distinguished guests—including Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Phylicia Rashad and Black Enterprise, among others—were on hand. The following pages are our personal snap shots from this historic event. —Derek T. Dingle
Members of the museum staff and advisory council engage in the official groundbreaking for construction of the $500 million museum that will put a human face on slavery, the Great Migration, the Civil Rights Movement and every major aspect of African American life.
President Obama hopes when future generations visit the museum to “hear these songs of pain and progress and struggle and sacrifice” that they will not separate it from “the larger American story. I want them to see it as central—an important part of our shared story.”
Former First Lady Laura W. Bush offers comments on why her husband George W. Bush signed legislation in 2003 to include a museum as part of the Smithsonian Institution that would offer “the stories of millions of African Americans who have strengthened our country.”
Jazz pianist Jason Moran offers his tribute by playing Duke Ellington‘s “I Like the Sunrise.”
Image: Congressman John Lewis (Lonnie C. Major)
Richard Parsons, Chairman of Citigroup, and Linda Johnson Rice, Chairman of Johnson Publishing Co., serve as co-chairs of the advisory board, which has helped raise more than $100 million in cash and commitments from corporations, foundations and individuals.
Museum director Lonnie G. Bunch says the institution “through its exhibitions and scholarship will stimulate a dialogue about race…foster a spirit of reconciliation and healing…and enhance our understanding of how African American history and culture are central to all of our histories.”
Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church, provides words of inspiration reflecting the trials and triumphs of African Americans.
Mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, one of the nation’s renown opera singers, offers her rendition of The National Anthem.
The Obamas joining the National Anthem as the ceremony begins.
President Obama and Michelle Obama joined the proceedings to commemorate the largest such undertaking to reveal the contributions of African Americans to the world.
Actress Phylicia Rashad served as the mistress of ceremonies for the historic event.
Image: Lonnie C. Major
The Heritage Signature Chorale performed “My Soul is Anchored in the Lord,” a spiritual composed by Florence Price, one of the first African American women recognized as a symphonic composer.