“This place is more than a building. It is a dream come true.” – U.S. Rep. John Lewis, dedication ceremony of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Saturday, September 24, 2016
At Lowe’s, we are part of something bigger. And through our philanthropic efforts, we continue to give a voice to history and hopes for generations to come. Lowe’s donated $1 million to help fulfill a dream and bring the National Museum of African American History and Culture to life. As an attorney with a deep appreciation for civil and humanitarian rights, I was excited for the opportunity to attend this historic event in our nation’s capital on behalf of Lowe’s. The museum represents resiliency, optimism and a soulful spirituality – attributes important to me in fulfillment of my life’s purpose.
Through the experience, I have a deeper understanding of our purpose and observed firsthand how our company’s values and generosity touch not only our employees, customers and strategic vendors, but also our extended community.
The historical event was emotionally overwhelming. At the dedication, President Obama explained, “African American history is not somehow separate from the American story. It is not the underside of the American story. It is central to the American story.”
The sense of unity and ownership of our shared history is powerful, and the museum is a source for us to talk to each other and listen intently to each other’s perspectives. On stage, there was a gentleness and mutual reverence between former President George Bush and Laura Bush and the first family, Michelle and President Barack Obama. They laughed and enjoyed tributes by icons in the entertainment industry. In a tender moment, Michelle Obama leaned over and gave a warm embrace to former President Bush. As a crowd of 7,000 attendees, we laughed, sang, forged new friendships and reflected on our past and recent events in our society.
The building itself is strikingly beautiful with a bronze-hued design towering on the National Mall. In the crowd, my new friends told me it is best to start the experience by viewing the exhibits on the ground floor and work your way up. The three lower levels are about our history from slavery, segregation and the civil rights movement of 1968 to today. On a movie screen, stories are narrated about the champions of the civil rights movement, including Angela Davis, Shirley Chisholm and Dr. Martin Luther King.“The sense of unity and ownership of our shared history is powerful, and the museum is a source for us to talk to each other and listen intently to each other’s perspectives.”—Janet Saura
The upper levels of the museum – where politics and pop culture collide – become tall, bright and airy. Music, art and athleticism are celebrated here. I was born in Detroit and attended University of Detroit. My Motown heritage is deep, and I was elated to see Chuck Berry’s candy-apple red Cadillac, Michael Jackson’s fedora and film clips of Tina Turner. Images of Oprah Winfrey, Olympic medals owned by Carl Lewis and Gabby Douglas and film clips of the inauguration our first African American president, Barack Obama, are displayed in a large gallery.
As the list of individual and corporate contributors who made the museum possible scrolls across the screen, Lowe’s Companies is named among the donors. Lowe’s donation is more than just a monetary contribution. It demonstrates our commitment to embrace diversity and serves as an affirmation of our values to be part of something bigger and to be who we say we are, as “I too am American.” The donation will inspire employees, customers, suppliers and generations to come to learn from our nation’s past and recognize the resiliency, optimism and spirituality of its people. Special thanks to the leaders of Lowe’s who helped the dream come true.