Powerful bass, intent in words, joyful light and the challenges overcome to reach it. Images portray defiance, hope, past present pain and if I were to describe…It seems I lost the words. A country is stitched together from history; fibers and threads pull themselves from culture, mimic over and over again that which brings identity, and what separates from it is to say here is a place… We are here and whole and new and old.
There is something so completely overwhelming about seeing history layed out in a way in which memories are overlaid with sounds, with new thoughts and ideas- flipping through records; Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, Queen Latifah, Jackson Five, Ray Charles, so many more…
Not only this, but walking through the halls of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), I was overwhelmed with the recollection of so many moments of struggle, of overcoming, of fight and speech and determination. I admit I was near drawn to tears at the simple presence of a vision of so many people living every day to change standards, to reach goals in the face of discriminatory and vast obstacles. I walked into rooms of art with visions of hope and confidence.
It was so powerful to walk floor to floor through diverse galleries that shared a cohesive story of culture. Many would argue it was even more so to see the historical exhibits; which demonstrated the implications of slavery, of the Jim Crow era, of the quest for civil rights. We have this ability to create sensory experiences that don’t just share facts but even more so tell stories, which can move a heart. A bus of discrimination, a mask of hatred, a shield of honor and words of truth… A museum links moments in time that represent humility, courage, anger, strength, and people just fighting to reach the next day. Each of these are powerful and worthy of recognition.
Opened in 2016, the NMAAHC has yet to have been seen by enough of the world. And yet, for people like myself who have immersed themselves in its account, we have been left with memories we had not known we could ever hold. I have asked my fellow classmates what they would use to describe the incredible place, and over and over I heard the word “impactful”. A simple yet powerful term, it insinuates a larger picture of what the exploration of the past attempts to display. It stands determined to impact any who would listen and seek, who would knock on a door to find wisdom.