The National Museum of African American History and Culture is a museum dedicated solely to documenting African Americans’ life history and culture (NMAAHC & Smithsonian Institute, 2015). The museum opened in 2003, one hundred years after it was first proposed in 1915, thanks to congressional support. The original goal was to highlight the numerous contributions of African Americans to national politics, literature, social issues, human rights, and development in today’s United States of America. Thousands of artifacts are housed in the museum, which has over ten thousand charter members. The museum has an interactive website and opened its doors to the public at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. People hunting for a good research topic in history or want to explore the past, the website has extensive virtual exhibitions. From the home page, the visitor can access comprehensive exhibitions including sound recordings, photographs, written history, and interactive features from a wide range of topics. The visitor can click on ‘On Time’ option to have a topic of interest to the United States (Oakes & Kia, 2004). The multimedia features help people online to explore the changing Americans lives over the last 300 years. The people interested in labor unionization can study the evolution and early labor movements of the 1820s to present.
The site’s huge exhibit comprises of stories about the American presidency titled ‘The American Presidency: A glorious Burden’. The link is easily accessible from the home page. One can begin with Founding Fathers crafted the office of the president, responsibilities, and limitations. There is a section exploring the early campaign trails. Once in the white house, ‘Life and Death in the White house’ link offer visitors the anecdotes of daily life at the white house (Oakes & Kia, 2004). One can identify the different presidents, their objectives while in office and the era they assumed power. However, the website is not good in finding specific information; it is helpful in searching through the archives of past exhibits.
Every community has unique history and understanding of inclusion and diversity. The museum dealing with accurate preservation of African American history has an essential role to play in leading and sustaining the conversation in the community about inclusion issues. The museum preserves and presents the local history, show commitment to maintain and tear some community narrative. The communities members are part of the ongoing conversation thus play a cultivating local understanding of inclusion and diversity.
The virtual field trip on National Museum of African American culture and history indicates circular, experimental, an introductory avenue for the African American and African diaspora culture. The virtual museum has large iconic and moving images that try to reinforce and amplify the theme and stories of profiled African American people. For instance, the African American craft included the cultural, seminal economic and social importance of building crafts.
African American culture has rich diversity. Factors such as socio-economic class, geographic religion age are some of the contributing factors to variances in cultural forms being practiced. The African American culture evolved and changed during various periods. The cultures responded to political and historical events. The African in the diaspora and African American cultures are incorporated aspects of African, Native Americans, and Europeans. Interaction with the different groups and geographic regions of the US led to changing cultures among black Americans. Similarly, the African American culture including styling, language, and cuisine becomes part of other communities living in American.
There are sections that display images that explore the styling impulse of African Americans. The community had a unique hairstyle and clothing choice due to politics of skin color. The exhibitions focus on politics, identity, and creativity as expressed through jewelry, hair, dress and entire clothing. It is not a surprise that the fashion designers and their works appear to denounce the impacts of skin color or colorist discrimination.
The world after the economic depression of 1930, fascism and end of warring error, the United States and the European countries resolved never to fight each other. The countries needed to stabilize and promote improved standards of living to their citizens irrespective of their ethnic, race or religious affiliation. The countries around Europe established the anti-genocide, anti-holocaust convention. The United Sates established anti-racism structures allowing rights of individuals and equal rights to all human kind.
Taking an African American museum virtual field trip is interactive. The tour included the Civil Rights Movements where the African American people fought for equal rights for the abolition of slave trade in the mid-19th century. By clicking on available option appearing on the homepage, one can begin the journey referred to as the voice of African American struggle (Oakes & Kia, 2004). The visitor is introduced to the many African Americans who selflessly engaged in the fight against inequality and other human rights. The Tour covers Emancipation Proclamation, Civil War, the civil right laws enacted between years 1866 and 1875. The museum includes the black population great migration from the south and the Jim Crow laws, race riots and other interesting topics. Also, the museum has great African Philanthropies, educators such as Booker T. Washington, W.E.B Dubois, and Ida B Wells (Oakes & Kia, 2004). The website and the museum tell the American story through the lens of African American culture and History. It is the American story for all Americans.
The world is not just and led to the great distinction and impoverishing some races. The history of the relationship between the white and the black community in the United States elicits emotions and to some extent bitterness. The white population enslaved the black community from Africa during the transatlantic trade. After the abolition of slave trade, discrimination against the black community, now Americans citizens continued. The African Americans fought for equal rights but it was not easy. Despite the great gains realized from Civil rights Movements, the United States reluctantly to officially memorialize and acknowledge the history of slavery and the subsequent pernicious actions and attitude towards African American community.
The American immigration created heterogeneous population (Bayor, 2016). A closer look at the American history, the museum narrates extended period of hostility behavior and attitude towards the certain population of immigrants. The black community endured segregation until the late 20th century (Moser & West, 2014). Fortunately, the recent integration continues to decrease the many discriminatory and exclusionary practices. The National Museum of African American History and Culture has powerful claims on people’s attention due to the universal aspects of history (NMAAHC, 2016). It was a history of the ferocious ideology of destruction. The invention of race and myths about the African American led to discrimination, lynching and genocide.
The National Museum on African American heritage is a reflection of the dark past. The public institution is open to all people to participate, collaborate and learn more about the African history and culture. The founding director of the museum Lonnie G. Bunch indicated that there are a few things as powerful and as essential as a people, a country that is steeped in history’ (NMAAHC & Smithsonian Institute, 2015). Indeed the virtual field trip seeks to house and interpret the life and work of African Americans. People can physically visit the museum or use the website for enlightenment and enjoyment. Visiting the website helps people experience the vibrant and rich African-American heritage and culture. The website stages magnificent exhibition galleries full of exciting, fascinating historical art.
I recommend students to visit the website or the museum location to learn and experience what is inside such an amazing infrastructure. The museum tells of American democracy and is a unique point to tell the African American story. The facility is a powerful statement about the shared American identity, belonging and recognition. The museum confers national legitimacy to help in correcting the implicit bias in existence. The national history and definition of memory have long ignored the minorities but the museum helps them feel counted as part of American history. The students will have an avenue to reflect on the diversity of the American nation and the national experience. The museum and other heritage centers such as the just completed Martin Luther King Memorial are not mere statues or buildings. The architectural and artist designs represent the dream of justice and equality and a fully inclusive democracy. The entire American population will learn about the power of public spaces while extending American story.
Bayor, R. H. (2016). The Oxford handbook of American immigration and ethnicity. New York, NY: Oxford University Press
Moser, L. T., & In West, K. (2014). American multicultural identity. Grey House Publishing
Oakes, E. H., & Kia, M. (2004). Social science resources in the electronic age. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.
National Museum of African American History and Culture (U.S.), & Smithsonian Institution. (2015). Civil rights and the promise of equality: Photographs from the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
National Museum of African American History and Culture (U.S.). (2016). The National Museum of African American History & Culture: A souvenir book.