Last weekend was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. I had the chance to be a part of history and experience the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. As the director of community relations for Lowe’s, this experience reinforced the need to continue to address challenges that still exist in our country and embrace the opportunities that lie ahead and the fact that the stories on display in the museum are what made my story possible.
As I walked through the museum, I was filled with a sense of pride, amazement, shock, awe and wonder about the countless contributions and achievements of African Americans and the impact that we have had on this country and the world. The museum traces a portion of our history starting back in slavery through the civil rights movement and current times.
There are a couple of things that are evident as you progress through the exhibits in the museum:
1. The African American story is an indivisible part of the American story. African American history is American history.
2. The progress that we have made in America would not be possible without the sacrifices, contributions and achievements of African American people.
As former President George W. Bush stated during his remarks at the dedication ceremony “A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them. This museum tells the truth that a country founded on the promise of liberty held millions in chains. That the price of our union was America’s original sin.”
Lowe’s donated $ 1 million to support the museum. It was important for Lowe’s to be part of this effort because it gives us the chance to be a part of something bigger and it connects closely with our commitment to embrace and encourage diversity throughout our business and the communities we serve. The National Museum of African American History and Culture represents an integral part of the African American experience and establishes a place where generations of people from the around the world can learn about an untold part of American history. It will allow all Americans to gain a fuller understanding of their definition of self.
As President Barack Obama shared during his speech: “As Americans, we rightfully passed on the tales of the giants who built this country, who led armies into battle, who waged seminal debates in the halls of Congress and the corridors of power, but too often we ignored, or forgot, the stories of millions upon millions of others, who built this nation just as surely, whose humble eloquence, whose calloused hands, whose steady drive, helped to create cities, erect industries, build the arsenals of democracy.”
Lowe’s $1 million donation represents much more than a contribution to building a place where the African American experience can be shared and told. Our hope is that it will enable our employees and customers to learn about American history through the lens of our African American citizens and inspire all of us to be the best version of ourselves that we can be.
About the Museum
A few interesting facts about the National Museum of African American History and Culture:
▪ 100 years in the making: The concept for the museum was initiated in 1915 by African American veterans of the Union Army who formed a committee to build a memorial to recognize African American achievements.
▪ 4 years of construction: Groundbreaking on the five-acre site took place in February 2012.
▪ Quite the collection: The museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts.
▪ Ground floor, please: 60 percent of the 400,000-square-foot building is actually below ground. The museum encourages viewers to start at the bottom, in the history section.
▪ Crowning achievement:The shape of the museum’s bronze-colored outer corona is inspired by the three-tiered crowns used in Yoruban art from West Africa.
▪ Sustainable, too: With a lattice that opens the building to exterior daylight and energy- and water-saving features throughout, the building will become the first Smithsonian museum to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification.