Groundbreaking Day

Click here to hear President Obama speak at the groundbreaking ceremonies for the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C., the newest member of the Smithsonian family of museums.  For more on the museum, including an interview with director Dr. Lonnie Bunch, visit here.

So … say you were placed in charge of an exhibit entitled “The African American Experience During the Civil War.”  What stories would you tell?  What exhibits would you mount?  What would you want visitors to your museum exhibit to learn and to think about long after they had left the exhibit?



5 thoughts on “Groundbreaking Day

  1. JMRudy February 22, 2012 / 1:39 pm

    I think, first, I’d come up with a flashier title than, “The African American Experience During the Civil War.” 😉

    Seriously, though, I think it would organize well around one simple question: “How do we decide which people are citizens?” Everything else, I think, can slot into that major question, be it Dred Scott, fugitive slaves, USCT or contraband.

  2. Alan Skerrett February 23, 2012 / 5:39 am

    This new museum will coexist alongside the African-American Civil War Museum, which is located in northwest Washington, DC. Note that, the African-American Civil War Museum (AACWM) is not a part of the Smithsonian family of sites. The AACWM is intended, in part, to be a community museum that will, for example, attract local tourism and add to the cultural environment of the local neighborhood.

    Lonnie G. Bunch, who heads the National Museum of African American History and Culture, has been a frequent visitor to, and I’m sure a supporter of, the AACWM.

    The permanent exhibit at the AACWM is “The Glorious March to Liberty.” It is basically an annotated timeline of African American history, with two points of focus: the role of black agency throughout American history; and the role of African American soldiers and sailors during the Civil War.

    While much of the exhibit looks at the role of African descent people in the Union armed forces, there is also some coverage of African American activism during the Revolutionary Era through to the time of John Brown’s raid; the Reconstruction Era; the integration of the armed forces; and the Civil Rights movement. The exhibit ends with a look at the advances in education, spending power, and political representation over time.

    It will be interesting to see what overlap there will be between these two museums.

  3. Khepera February 23, 2012 / 11:51 am

    I’d be interested in exploration of the self-emancipation phenomenon immediately preceding and during the war; what it meant to slaves and how it affected both Union and Confederate perceptions of the war.

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