By: La-Toya Scott
For months I yearned to go to the National Museum of African American History and Culture ever since I viewed First Lady Michele and President Barack Obama stand on those museum steps to announce the grand opening September 24, 2016. This year I finally got the opportunity to go for my birthday.
Ya'll, I have to be a witness and testify to the fact that this museum is EVERYTHING.
I traveled to Washington D.C with my mother with only one goal in mind of getting into that museum. I knew prior that it was going to be a challenge. Advanced tickets were out and would not be supplied again until 2018. My best shot was to get the same day passes online. I woke up early to get onto the site and click for the timed entry passes as soon as they opened. In thirty seconds of opening, not even exaggerating, they were all gone.
Sad but undeterred I looked at my mother and told her that we were just going to have to go there in person. That Saturday morning we took an Uber to the museum. I marched up to the workers and shared my whole life:
“Hi my name is La-Toya, I travelled from Florida with my mother, it's my birthday, all I wanted was to see this museum, I went online for passes, they were all gone, and now I am here because I am Black , and it’s my birthright to see this museum, I will not go!”
The guard looked at me and smiled, probably amazed at the fact that I had managed to not gasp for air the entire time. She said, “Baby here’s 3 passes. Enjoy.”
I almost cried.
Upon entering the museum I realized every one that greeted us was Black, and happy. The security guards were Black. The store clerks were Black. The tour advisors were Black.
I also noticed that everyone had brought someone.
My mother and I started on the 5th floor, the very top of the museum, as advised by an employee because of the congestion, and worked our way down.
The museum was not only this structure that was made but it was a mosaic to be marveled. It was intrinsically pieced together by Blacks that had made a ripple in time that were honored to donate their pieces or the pieces of loved ones and descendents past. From Ali’s gloves, Jordan’s shoes, Harriet Tubman's shawl, to the casket of Emmett Till, every piece was purposeful. Every thing meant something.
Now, I won’t divulge everything I saw, felt, or experienced, because I want you to enjoy it for yourselves but, I do want to share something that I will not ever forget.
I have not been to a museum since I was in elementary school. As a child to have your history whitewashed and the narrative of America filtered to highlight the greatness of white people and minimize the contributions of your people is an impacting experience to say the least.
While in the museum I felt engulfed in an ethereal moment. The reactions of all the Black people that had come from near and far just to share this moment were soul moving. As I walked past the black faces of those old and young and looked in their eyes I could see it. That shared feeling of belonging. I could hear it, the earnest tone of confirmation. We did this. All of this.
Every piece, every trinket, every shackle, every cloth, every shoe, everything was ours. Honestly, you cannot appreciate it all in just one day. That fact truly speaks to the work we have done as a people. The experience was not only an intimate glimpse of where we have been, but also an indication of where we are going.
You simply just have to see it for yourself.