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Come Museum — Come Knowledge – Carter At Large By Lorraine B. Carter

lorraine-b-carterThe grand opening of the new National Museum of African American History and Culture was a triumph!

Donors could see that the “dream” had been realized. The museum officially opened on September 24th, 2016 and stands on the Washington Mall in architectural splendor; a testament to American will power and design. The building successfully combines African and contemporary African-American architecture.

The Fine Arts Society of Peoria, with co-sponsors Concerned African American Retirees (CAAR) and the African American Hall of Fame Museum (AAHFM) hosted a lecture titled, “Building the National Museum of African American History and Culture,” by Mr. John W. Franklin at the Peoria Riverfront Museum on October 13th. Before Mr. Franklin started his lecture, out of respect for the event, the audience was asked to stand and sing, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” under the lead vocalist Mrs. Jackie Watkins, member of the African-American Hall of Fame Museum and the Heritage Ensemble. It was dedicated to the Museum on the Mall in Washington, D.C. (NMAAHC).

Mr. John W. Franklin, of the Smithsonian Institution, presented a stirring lecture describing how the museum became a reality, from its inception to completion. Mr. Franklin shared a map of the Diaspora of African natives, kidnapped, and sold into slavery throughout the world. He told how the new museum contained a plethora of historical artifacts; among them Nat Turner’s Bible, the revolutionary who met his fate in Southampton County, Virginia, 1831. Also included are rare, authentic iron shackles used to bond the slave’s ankles; ankles of future Kings and Queens of various tribes of Africa. The royal descendants were kidnapped and through felonious actions by slavers, lost their birthright as heirs to the thrones of their family’s enormous wealth.

Mr. Franklin shared photos of a railroad coach from the Jim Crow era that was purchased by the museum. That horrid coach brought saddened memories to some older members of the audience, who traveled in those days under Jim Crow Laws. Black children in today’s world know nothing of the humiliating experience of drinking from segregated water fountains and using segregated bathrooms through the degradation of American apartheid.

He enlightened the audience which included young people, who knew very little about the Civil Rights Struggle, with pictures of rubble from the bombing of the Birmingham church; where four little girls were murdered. He informed the audience, how in the 15th century, blacks were in America and their descendant’s built the White House in Washington, D.C. How ironic that the same White House now houses the first black American President, Barack H.Obama and America’s first black First Lady, Michelle Obama and their children.

Mr. Franklin concluded with numerous historical facts, which were astoundingly poignant. His informative lecture gave thought to the song, “We Shall Overcome” by Weldon Johnson.

The New National Museum of African American History and Culture is a place where all Americans can learn about the richness and diversity of the African Ameri­can experience. To learn more please visit nmaahc.si.edu.