I can’t believe the things I saw in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Every melanated man/woman walking needs to experience it.
Do you ever notice how QUIET people are when they are eating good food? I’ve noticed that same theory applies to life. When your soul is being fed, you are too busy enjoying it to be running your mouth.
Lately, I’ve been quiet. My spirit is full. DC gave me what my soul craved.
I’m still in awe over the experience and every time I look over the photos I captured inside the museum, I’m silenced again. The museum has it’s way of striking a spiritual cord and connecting so deep inside you. The minds behind the design of the building left no stone unturned when it came to giving you ALL of your African American History. They did not spare 1 penny—the Museum is a fulfilling Thanksgiving meal for the soul.
I experienced every kind of emotion you can think of. I was angry. I was sad. I cried. I was excited. I was overwhelmed. I wanted to flat out scream a few times because I literally felt the pain of our ancestors.
There are many theaters throughout the 4 floors. There are many places to sit and watch real footage of our history. There are flat-screens everywhere flashing images of the last 800 years…too many flat screens to count. You are sucked into them all. In fact if you are not locked into the images flashing all around you then you feel like you are missing something. The museum feeds all 5 of your senses. You even hear real slave narratives playing in many of the exhibits on the underground level. It’s soooo tough to endure as you listen to the pain and fear in their voices. Every wall, every corner, every pole, every surface that your eyes can see is adorned with “us”. Artifacts, authentic publications and billboards from the associated era, life-sized sculptures, quotes, music, photos…every piece of this museum is engaging. There were even slave huts present. Yes- slave housing and you are able to walk inside the small wooden slave quarters…it’s a moving experience.
I saw an actual copy of the North Star (pictured below)…a 19th century anti-slavery newspaper by abolitionist Frederick Douglass. These issues are from around 1847-1851 and there’s a copy in the museum!! Amazing!
I saw a 100-pound COTTON bag hanging that was used by our ancestors. Slaves were required to fill 3-4 bags daily and slave owners would weigh the pickings at the end of each day, if the quota was not met slaves endured horrible whippings. There are a number of whips that were actually used during this era on display as well (some pictured below).
They even have wood remnants from the slave ships that stole our ancestors from Africa and the shackles they chain-linked them with. The walls of the Middle Passage exhibit are etched in the names of hundreds of slave ships, the ships host-country, the number of enslaved Africans aboard and the number of survivors. Many museum observers consoled one another and sobbed in and around this massive exhibit.
When you are finished with the underground level and the segregation floor, happier times of African American history and culture greet you on the remaining floors.
There were so many highlights for me. Because of my obsession with natural hair an exhibit that excited my spirit instantly was seeing diplomas from Annie Malone’s Poro College and actual hair products by Madame CJ Walker (pictured below). The photographer in me was also very intrigued by the Anderson’s Photography Studio exhibit…in 1948 Anderson (a notable photographer) and his wife serviced black families with their photography business in Greenville.
I hope that my photos are able to give you and your families a thorough sneak peek inside the museum, it doesn’t compare to actually being there though. It’s impossible to capture the contents of the entire building, I estimate that it will probably take 8-9 hours or more to experience, read and watch every single thing inside when you decide to go and visit. When viewing the photos below I encourage you to stop and read the text as well. I had to look through almost 500 photos that I took and then chose the best ones for you all. I still did not capture the entire building and I’m already anxious to revisit and spend more hours digging into our history.
Admission is free but you have to be a pass holder (all early passes have been distributed through March 2017…so you won’t get any luck there) you can also get a day pass by being 1 of the first 100 in line at the time of opening. That’s “iffy” too because museum employees advised us that due to the popularity of the museum, people begin lining up at 4am for tickets so it’s not a guarantee that you will get one. When my husband and I visited…we did not have either but by the grace of God, the security guard at the door went to school near my home (4 hours from DC) sparked up a brief convo about it and sympathized with us about losing our cars in the flood brought on by Hurricane Matthew. Off that connection alone, she literally said “wow, ya’ll can go in”. Just like that, “waa-lahh” him and I were in.
Without further due…here are the images and video I captured inside.