In his weekly address U.S. President Barack Obama welcomes the opening of the National Museum of African American History as an opportunity to educate Americans about the country’s complex racial history. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
Obama welcomes new National Museum of African American History
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)
In his weekly address U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed on Saturday (September 24) the opening of the National Museum of African American History as an opportunity to educate Americans about the country’s complex racial history.
“This museum tells a story of America that hasn’t always taken a front seat in our national narrative,” Obama said.
The opening of the museum on the Washington D.C., National Mall on Saturday comes at a time of hightened racial tensions in the country, much of it centered around controversy over police killings of African-Americans.
Protests erupted in Charlotte, North Carolina this week after police shot to death 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott and tensions also erupted in Tulsa, Oklahoma after a white officer killed an unarmed black man in an incident captured on police videos.
Obama said the museum would offer a broad perspective on American history.
“But this museum chooses to tell a fuller story. It doesn’t gauze up some bygone era or avoid uncomfortable truths. Rather, it embraces the patriotic recognition that America is a constant work in progress; that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is within our collective power to align this nation with the high ideals of our founding,” he said.
The bronze-colored museum’s showcase sits on Washington’s National Mall, known as “America’s Front Yard.”
The 36,000 items in the collection range from trade goods used to buy slaves in Africa to a segregated railway car from the 1920s and a red Cadillac convertible belonging to rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Chuck Berry.
The objects on display tell the story of the struggles of African-Americans, said Obama.
“You’ll see it in the shackles of an enslaved child and in the hope of Harriet Tubman’s gospel hymnal. You’ll see it in the tragedy of Emmett Till’s coffin and in the resilience of a lunch counter stool and in the triumph of a Tuskegee Airplane. You’ll see it in the shadow of a prison guard tower and in the defiance of Jesse Owens’ cleats and in the American pride of Colin Powell’s uniform,” he said.
Black Civil War veterans first proposed an African-American museum in 1915. Congress approved its creation in 2003, and construction of the 400,000-square-foot (37,200-square-meter) building took almost four years.