BSA Visits National Museum of African American History and Culture

By Toniqua Hubert, staff writer

“A lie is not a shelter,

discrimination is not protection,

isolation is not a remedy,

a promise is not a prophylactic” -Unknown

 

The quote above is one of many that the Black Student Alliance of Potomac State College saw when we took a field trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Oct. 7, 2016.

The NMAAHC is the only national museum dedicated to African American life, history and culture. The museum and all of its 36,000+ documents opened to the public on Sept. 24, 2016, as the 19th Smithsonian Institution.

Floor one was based on “A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond.” Outfits worn by famous musicians like Little Richard, En Vogue, Lena Horne and Whitney Houston were on display. The Cadillac that Chuck Berry used as a prop for concerts and pages from The Philadelphia Tribune and covers of the first black magazines such as “Ebony” and “Jet” were exhibited.

Floor two has documents on “Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: The Era of Segregation 1876-1968.” On this floor were many interesting photos. One that stood out was the Emmett Till memorial. Till was brutally murdered by white men for “whistling at a white woman.”

Other documents were charcoal paintings of unidentifiable individuals with mothers from the South and fathers of the West Indian background, sports for the African American community and information on historically black colleges/universities and the Divine Nine.

The Divine Nine is nine Greek organizations that were created for blacks in college that weren’t allowed to join other organizations since racism was a huge issue. Specifically, the Divine Nine are Alpha Phi Alpha (1906), Alpha Kappa Alpha (1908), Kappa Alpha Psi (1911), Omega Psi Phi (1911), Delta Sigma Theta (1913), Phi Beta Sigma (1914), Zeta Phi Beta (1920), Sigma Gamma Rho (1922), and Iota Phi Theta (1963).

Floor three, the final floor, held facts about “Slavery and Freedom 1400-1877.” Here we read about The Fort Pillow Massacre, Black British Marines, and the Segregated Military. For me, this floor sparked many negative emotions because I never knew half of the things I learned from the articles and videos. A part of me wanted to cry, but another part of me was too angry to do so because blacks were treated so badly, even in the military. They were allowed to fight in wars but weren’t allowed to have decent jobs. Most slaves enlisted in the military because from what they knew during that time was that the only freedom they’d have.

“The museum was great! I just wish we could’ve stayed there longer.” Kayatou Ouattara said, “I already made plans with two of my friends to visit again this Thanksgiving break!”

Professor Yelena Meadows said, “I found the experience deeply moving. It encompassed such a wide range of emotions: from profound sadness, hurt, and shame of fellow human beings to unbelievable examples of human dignity, creativity, and resilience in the face of unspeakable circumstances.”

Admission for the NMAAHC is free, but one should call in advance for tickets.

 

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Photos taken by Toniqua  Hubert of the National Museum of African American History and Culture during BSA’s visit.