I am still overwhelmed by the richness, liveliness and overall depth of the my experience at the National Museum of African American History & Culture. Perhaps the most powerful display of all is the building; a strategic piece of architecture that makes you aware of what kind of a space you’re entering and alerts you of the seriousness and beauty of a history that is both triumphant and heart-rending.

My tour started on the bottom floor after being in the time-lined elevator. Another careful consideration of making sure that we experienced what slaves who were brought from Africa and the Caribbean and other parts of the world experienced. The stories of slaves and the research that went into the collection of these stories made me realise just how important history is but also just how privileged I am to be secure in my identity as an African living in Africa. I had to be empathetic as I read the placards and looked at the carefully placed pictures and statues.

The museum packs in more than 600 years of history together and there is a sense that one cannot select a comfortable version of history.It is quite a feat to visit the museum in one day and I am excited to do a follow up visit. I left feeling broken and tender but also challenged and emboldened by the story of triumph and how honest the story of black pain was illustrated.

“I don’t want anyone to swear for us or to vote for us: we want those privileges for ourselves.” – William H. Grey 1868

Black is beautiful