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Exploring The National Museum Of African American History And Culture47:04
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With guest host Jane Clayson

From Chuck Berry’s guitar to slave ships, a look inside the long-awaited Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

In this photo taken Sept. 14, 2016, final preparations are being made for the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. (Susan Walsh/AP)
In this photo taken Sept. 14, 2016, final preparations are being made for the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. (Susan Walsh/AP)

The newest Smithsonian museum opens Saturday—dedicated to African Americans. From the horrors of slavery, through Jim Crow and civil rights, to today’s Black Lives Matter movement and police violence —the history of black Americans is central to the history of the United States. This hour On Point, the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture. Plus, an update on the police shooting and protests in Charlotte, North Carolina.  -- Jane Clayson

Guests

Vinson Cunningham, staff writer for the New Yorker. (@vcunningham)

Judge Robert Wilkins, member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C. Circuit. Member of the Presidential Commission created to plan the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Author of the book, “Long Road to Hard Truth.”

From The Reading List

New Yorker: Making a Home For Black History — "The museum’s mouthful of a name—and its inelegant initialism, N.M.A.A.H.C.—testifies to a bureaucratic slog that began in 1915, when black veterans of the Union Army, together in Washington to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the war’s end, and fed up with the discrimination they found in the capital city, organized a 'colored citizens’ committee' to build a monument to the civic contributions of their recently emancipated people. In 1929, Herbert Hoover appointed a commission, which included the civil-rights leader and educator Mary McLeod Bethune and the N.A.A.C.P. co-founder Mary Church Terrell, to come up with a plan."

Los Angeles Times: The biggest challenge in opening up a national museum about African American history? How to talk about slavery -- "Should the museum be a home for African Americans on America’s “front lawn” — once surrounded by slave auctions — or a place to teach others, namely white Americans, about a history they may not fully understand? Would it be a somber memorial to centuries of pain and death, or a celebration of the achievements of African Americans, who have persevered despite a system perpetually against them?"

Washington Post: A peek at the Mall’s latest addition — "The Smithsonian's latest museum looks like nothing else on the Mall, and it brings an African influence to a place that could not be more American. You approach it on walkways that largely trace paths worn in the grass by visitors to the Washington Monument."

Read An Excerpt of "Long Road To Hard Truth" By Judge Robert Wilkins

This program aired on September 22, 2016.

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