RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — This weekend marked a historic moment more than a century in the making.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture opened at a time when the nation is grappling with big questions about racial equality.
President Barack Obama spoke at a ceremony commemorating the opening.
“It is a complicated story here – messy … it needs to be told now more than ever. This museum offers context for the debates of our times and illuminates them,” Obama said.
The goal of the museum is to look back and learn lessons to take moving forward.
Lonnie Buch III, the founding director for the museum also spoke.
“While America should ponder the pain of slavery and segregation, it also had to find the joy, the hope, the resiliency, the spirituality that was endemic in this community,” Bunch said.
Visitors begin in the basement of the museum and make their way through exhibits that tell a story that takes place over 400 years.
A student named Clifton Kinnie described his experience.
“As I was walking through I saw shackles, I saw auction blocks and a few tears came down my face,” Kinnie said.
More than three thousand artifacts are on display in the museum.
Obama also spoke of the importance of sharing these stories with America’s youth.
“Hold a little hand, tell them the stories that are enshrined here. We’ll learn about ourselves as Americans. We’ll walk away that much more in love with this country. The only place on earth where this story could have unfolded,” Obama said.
Bunch told the crowds that in order to prevent long lines, the museum is distributing tickets online for specific entry time. The next available tickets are for the first week in December.