Inside the Groundbreaking of the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Uploaded by whitehouse on 22.02.2012

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Lonnie Bunch: The goal of a museum is to really make us all better.
To create a safe space where people can talk and explore the
history of African Americans in a way that'll bring us to
reconciliation and healing.
On the one hand, it's a story about remembering;
remembering all of these people who,
in the African American experience,
who have shaped and made this country what it is.
Traditionally, when you build a museum,
you already have the stuff.
Well, this, we didn't.
And so we had to believe that most of what we needed was still
in people's basements, homes and attics.
And then I think that the biggest part of this job that
moves me so is when somebody brings something that you knew
just didn't exist and suddenly they share it with you.
I received a call one day and somebody said,
"We have material from Harriet Tubman."
It wasn't true; couldn't be.
He pulls out a box and in this box he suddenly pulls out
photographs of Harriet Tubman's funeral that nobody had
ever seen.
So already I know, okay, maybe we're into something.
And then he pulled out the shawl.
This is a shawl that was given to Harriet Tubman by
Queen Victoria.
We were able to find a Tuskegee airplane,
a plane that was used to train the great African American
pilots in World War II; I didn't expect that.
In 1963, a month after the March on Washington,
there was a bombing in Birmingham where four little
girls were killed.
And one of our stronger artifacts are shards of the
stained glass from the church.
And so to be able to have something as iconic and as
powerful as that to speak about one of the most --
one of the darkest days in American history is really
important for us.
In many ways when we break ground on February 22nd,
we will sort of fulfill the dreams of many generations.
It should be both a moment that says the construction begins,
but it's also a nod to the past and a look to the future.
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