If you don’t know where you come from, you won’t know where you’re going.”
In December I was blessed to be able to visit the National African American Museum of Culture and History twice. The first visit though short was impactful. MY friends and I hit I-95 to visit the museum during 2:00-5:30 time slot and decided against trying to rush through the entire museum and instead went to specific exhibitions.
I began my tour in the Sweet Home Café and indulged in a savory serving of shrimp and grits and a scrumptious sweet potato tart. From there we ventured to the museum and hit the Everyday Beauty, Making a Way Out of No Way, Cultural Expressions, Power of Place, Sports and Taking the Stage Exhibitions. These exhibitions showcased many contributions through history that African American’s have made. It felt unbelievably good to see all of the powerful ways our ancestors have used the talents to push our culture forward. Being in the media industry of course the Cultural Expressions and Taking the Stage exhibitions were my favorite. I got to indulge in the history of ground breaking moments in television, movies and talk. I literally left awe inspired.
During my second visit with much more time on my hands having an 11:00a timed entrance I was able to explore the museum at a more leisure pace. This visit I began in the Slavery and Freedom section of the museum. In the lower area of the museum there are three floors that cover the beginning of the slave trade all the way up to the civil rights movement in three in depth exhibitions. In these quarters the mood is somber as we rehash the history of what it actually means to be African American. Some of the facts and lessons that are presented in these exhibitions have been left out of history book and it can be hard to grapple with the harsh reality and ugly truth of what kinds of inhumane things have taken place to get us to where we are in the 21st century.
Before heading up to the A Changing America exhibit we stopped in to the Contemplative Court Waterfall room. This was room was designed to reinstate a sense of peace and reflection prior to exploring the rest of the museum. I encourage everyone to visit the museum, a few times actually, and definitely visit this room. The museum for me has served as a history lesson, but also a source of hope as it notes all that has been overcome. It serves as a motivational memory for me especially in today’s cultural and political climate.