On a sultry Washington, D.C. summer day we are waiting in queue for the individual ticket allotment to the African American history museum. The uncomfortable heat is a small cost to pay for the opportunity to see the antiquities of our ancestors.
Tickets & Getting There
The museum issues time passes in advance, same day online at 6:30 AM EST or 1 PM daily at the Mason Street entrance in D.C. We tried online at 6:30 AM without any success and decided to stand in line around 12 noon in anticipation of the 1 PM ticket distribution. Always check the museum’s website for the latest information on ticket distribution. If you decide to drive into D.C., there is secure parking at the Regan building two blocks away from the museum.
We started our tour on the lowest level of the museum which covers the last 600 years of African American History and Culture from Slavery to Reconstruction. These pictures and their descriptions are woefully deficient in depicting the scale of the exhibits.
Slavery and Freedom
The journey commences with travelling back to the 1400s to the beginning of slavery. Metaphorically guests board an elevator destined for the lowest basement level of the museum while centuries decrement through the transparent glass walls of the elevator.
The elevator scatters all patrons out into the early 1400s at the origins of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade aka the Triangular Trade where humans are seized and enslaved into bondage for the rest of their lives. The Trans Atlantic Slave Trade is the most substantial movement of people in history. It is estimated that 10 to 15 million people were filched from their homes in Africa and brought to the New World in the Americas to work as chattels. The middle passage of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade was especially horrible for negroes, and roughly two million of them didn’t make it to the Americas because of death and illness during the middle passage.
The Era of Segregation
During segregation, the recently emancipated negroes had to contend with the three-fifths clause (Article I, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution of 1787) which declared that for purposes of representation in Congress, enslaved blacks in a state would be counted as three-fifths of the number of white inhabitants of that state.
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other Persons.
The C2 section of the museum also has an exhibit dedicated to Emmett Till and is the only part of the museum were photographs cannot be taken. The line was exceptionally long for the Till exhibit which guarantees it’s a must-see.
A Changing America
Merica is already great, all countries must change or die. With any change comes discomfort, unrest and social discourse about the merits of the change.
On the higher level floors, L1 to L3 the focus of the exhibits shifts from the factual storytelling of the predicament of the negro to a celebration of black individuality and it’s importance to American sports, culture, music and the arts.
If you have time this summer, you should make every attempt to visit the National Museum of African American History & Culture. Tickets are free; all you have to do is plan accordingly. Your ancestors await.
Leave a comment below on your thoughts after visiting the museum.