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$540 Million African American Museum: Is Investing In Our Past Worth It?

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By: Leticia Latrice

National Museum of African American History and Culture dedicated to the African American Experience was created. Fifteen years ago the museum was non-existent. It took a rigorous battle with congress for almost 20 years to get them to approve the museum. Finally President Bush  authorized the creation of the museum in 2003. Once the director Lonnie G. Bunch III got the approval he had to figure out how the museum would be built. He had no land, no building or no money to begin the project. Luckily shortly after President Obama was elected into office and began to rally support for the building of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

A lot of political moves were made to make sure the museum could be successful. Colin Powell and Laura Bush were appointed to the board of directors to secure bi-partisan support. There was a controversial exhibit of Thomas Jefferson standing in front of a wall that has a list of 612 slaves that he owned. The goal of the museum was to create critical conversations of difficult topics involving America’s history of slavery.

The amount of money that the museum needed to be built was astronomical. Bunch began fundraising to finance the project. Kenneth Chenault the chief executive of American Express managed the campaign. The support of the African American community was amazing. Michael Jordan donated $5 million dollars and Oprah Winfrey donated $12 million dollars. Alfred Street Baptist Church, in Alexandria, VA donated $1 million dollars on their own and their congregation collectively donated 4 million dollars. Many other African Americans in the community gave the best they could with tons of $1,000 donations. After it was all said and done the National Museum of African American History and Culture is now a Smithsonian Institution and raised $540 million dollars to construct and maintain the phenomenal building in Washington D.C. which is scheduled to open September 24th 2016.

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The building resembles a three-tier crown and has exhibits that show the journey of African-American’s in the Middle Passage of slavery, the achievements of African American heroes and leaders and the modern day complexities of black life in this country. Thankfully Bunch fought and sacrificed to have African American history placed into a museum that your children’s children can go and experience. Always remember African’s were not slaves they were ENSLAVED and taken by force from their home in Africa.

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If the African American community was able to raise $540 million for the museum to be built, do you think that amount of money can be raised to economically support the black community?

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