The first African American president and president of the United States of America, Barack Obama has officially opened the first US national museum on African-American history in Washington, DC.
Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, on Saturday opened the new museum on the national mall by ringing a bell from a historic African-American church with help from the Bonner family, the eldest, Ruth Bonner, was the daughter of a man born a slave in Mississippi.
Obama said the $540m (£415m) museum represented a “common journey towards freedom.”
A clear-eyed view of history can make us uncomfortable. It will shake us out of familiar narratives. It is precisely because of that discomfort that we learn and grow and harness our collective power
The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) building designed by British architect David Adjaye, sits on Washington’s National Mall.
It is the only one of its kind in the country, exclusively dedicated to black American life.
Obama while speaking at the event said they are not a burden on America, or an object of shame and pity for America.
He noted that the building would give people a better understanding of themselves by teaching them about others, slaves; the poor; black activists and teachers.
“A clear-eyed view of history can make us uncomfortable. It will shake us out of familiar narratives. It is precisely because of that discomfort that we learn and grow and harness our collective power to make this nation more perfect. That’s the American story that this museum tells. One of suffering and delight. One of fear but also of hope,” he said.
The plan for the museum began in 1915 with African American Civil War veterans looking for a way to commemorate America’s black experience.
Former President George W. Bush signed the law authorising the construction in 2003.
The museum contains 36,000 items, ranging from trade goods used to buy slaves in Africa to a segregated railway car from the 1920s and a red Cadillac convertible belonging to rock’n‘roll pioneer Chuck Berry.