WASHINGTON — Hundreds of people gathered at an inaugural event for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture Monday night here to celebrate the completion of the museum’s exterior in a year that marks three significant moments in American history.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War and the ratification of the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery, as well as the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act—events that greatly shifted the trajectory of African Americans.
The museum’s founding director, Lonnie Bunch, launched the night of celebration, which included music, a dramatic visual arts display, remembrances and congratulations.
“Tonight we commemorate the meaning of freedom, a term that was never abstract to African Americans,” Bunch said.
African Americans’ triumphs through centuries of harsh discrimination were honored and remembered during the celebration, including the premiere of a seven-minute projection depicting over 150 years of African American progress, from Harriet Tubman to the Black Lives Matter movement.