This past April, my parents and I visited the National Museum of African America History and Culture in Washington, D.C. with some of my colleagues. It was a wonderful experience to share with my parents, especially my father who served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, is a huge sports fan, loves music and history.
There are three history galleries that go in chronological order. As you come off the “time capsule” you are transported back to the 1400s, to the sound of waves, to another place. Here is where your journey begins. The first stop is Slavery and Freedom, the 1400s – 1877. Next, is Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: The Era of Segregation 1876 – 1968. Last, is A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond.
During our short visit in April, we only saw the first floor and half of the second floor. It was decided then that we would go back at some point to see the rest of it and we did. In November, my parents and I traveled back to Washington, D.C. for another trip through the time capsule.
This time, our first stop was the Emmett Till memorial. Even though I know the story, I was still overcome with emotion as I looked at his casket and read the quote by his mother, I have read my times before. We then continued through the floors, seeing exhibits we missed the first time and spending more time looking at the ones we did see.
A highlight for me was seeing artifacts donated by Colonel Charles McGee. Colonel McGee was one of the Tuskegee Airmen and an officer in the United States Air Force and holds a record of 409 combat missions flown in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. In 2003, I had the honor of meeting Colonel McGee at a presentation he gave.
There is so much to see, read and listen to. Everything grabs your attention. One exhibit causes you to pause and reflect. While you look at the picture, you stop and take in the moment. Others cause you to smile and laugh. Then, as you are focused on reading, you hear a small child’s voice behind you, asking questions with a huge smile on his face, as he recognizes a picture of President Obama. This place really is captivating.