Chapter 36 – Intro – Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture

Monuments, archives, museums, cemeteries, memorials and photo albums are all for the purpose of preservation. Resident in us is the sum total of moments of our lives. At any point we can access, consciously or unconsciously, something that has happen to us and experience in the present.

Think about your child’s birth, or first real kiss, when first you sat down to watch what would become your favorite movie….did you just smile? I bet you did. Reverse that and think about the passing of a loved one or losing something dear to you like a family heirloom….I bet you got sad for a moment.

Congratulations. You have just accessed your mind and pulled the past into the present. We do this both unconsciously and perpetually and we do this as individuals and as peoples.

Past and future are always united by the present. It is a constant struggle between what was and what could be. Without divine input (As a Christian I believe in God’s input) we can only inform the future by making present decisions based on past understandings. We succeed and we fail as a people. We grow and learn from each other, when we don’t ,we steal and kill from each other, which leads me to the point of this intro.

The point is it is necessary to experience past hurts and pain, access those circumstances and look at them with new eyes for new understanding to make the better present decisions for future benefit.

My April 3rd, 2018 visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture (NMAAHC) was to revisit , in great detail, that which is past to see its present and potential future implications. To learn more of the truth that is often glazed over, to take hurt and feel it for what it is and let it inform my next moves and to see a major part of the history of this country that is undeniable. I, in the 40% of the museum I was able to visit, had an upheaval of emotion that is reflective of more than just my experience as an individual. I felt at times more hurt than angry, disappointed but not shocked and proud and amazed.

There is triumph of the struggles of those before me who fought, struggled and died. That triumph finds its life in the my present potential that I seek to live out each day. Now it is important to know this, I am a black man, so my experience therand takeaways will be understandably different from someone who is not black. My viewpoints will be from that of a black man, but know this, I am not speaking for just black people, I am speaking also as an American. African-American history IS American history and the parts that black Americans have played are not a small part of American history. It affects us all.

Every.

Single.

Day.

In fact, if you remove the contributions (both forced and unforced) of the black man in American history, you do not have American history, you do not have America.

Is America great? Yes. Is America ugly? Yes. We save and abandon, steal and donate, kill and rescue. Our story as a country might be one of the youngest stories of National World history but it is not spectacularly different from any other country, why? Because the story of man is one of contradictions, dichotomy, juxtapositions, failure, triumph, loss, gain, truth and lies, love and hate, war and peace. And countries are simply a gathering of men.

This is my intro as it would take multiple visits to cover the entire museum, it would take multiple entries to write about it all. My approach will be for the next few weeks, to approach topics that stood out to me from my time in the NMAAHC. These topics have more present relevance than I realized, we like to think ourselves so advanced and civilized from times past, yet these same issues live healthy and strong in the fabric of our present day. I feel compelled to write, I hope you feel compelled to read. Please share. Thank you.

1 Comment

  1. This is a place that I want to “see.” It’s not really a place at which to just go and look. A lot of the emotions and thoughts that we experience now in this country are probably from our collective past. I would think it’s a difficult–yet necessary–journey on which to embark. One day, I will have to because I need to.

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