New mu­seum honour­ing blacks opens amid racial strife

The Myanmar Times - - World -

PRES­I­DENT Barack Obama hailed the open­ing of the Na­tional Mu­seum of African Amer­i­can His­tory and Cul­ture, a long-awaited in­sti­tu­tion ded­i­cated to the many threads of black suf­fer­ing and tri­umph in the US.

Mr Obama cut the ribbon to in­au­gu­rate the strik­ing 37,000-squareme­tre bronze-clad ed­i­fice be­fore thou­sands of spec­ta­tors, at a time of grow­ing racial fric­tion.

“African Amer­i­can his­tory is not sep­a­rate from our larger Amer­i­can story. It’s not the un­der­side of the Amer­i­can story,” Mr Obama said. “It is cen­tral to the Amer­i­can story.”

The Smith­so­nian’s 19th ad­di­tion to its sprawl­ing mu­seum and re­search com­plex is the first na­tional mu­seum tasked with doc­u­ment­ing the un­com­fort­able truths of the coun­try’s sys­tem­atic op­pres­sion of black peo­ple, while also honour­ing the in­te­gral role of African Amer­i­can cul­ture.

“A clear-eyed view of his­tory can make us un­com­fort­able,” Mr Obama said. “It is pre­cisely 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.”

Elected in a wave of op­ti­mism in 2008, Mr Obama pledged to unify, of­ten re­peat­ing that he is not the pres­i­dent of black Amer­i­cans but of all Amer­i­cans.

But as his pres­i­den­tial man­date ends polls show that the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans see US race re­la­tions as “gen­er­ally bad”.

Photo: AFP

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama (right) watches as his wife Michelle em­braces for­mer pres­i­dent Ge­orge Bush at the ded­i­ca­tion of the Na­tional Mu­seum of African Amer­i­can His­tory and Cul­ture in Washington on Septem­ber 24.

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