Ok, I’ll elaborate a wee bit more.
This museum is something that was needed. A lot of people didn’t realize it was needed until they walked through the front door.
Yes, it’s crowded. Yes, tickets are sold out until the spring. But that’s ok it’s not going anywhere, and I’m glad about that. It’s beautifully designed. It’s filled with so much and still not enough. I went through all my emotions in one day. From slavery to rebellion to wars to death to music to sports to fashion to honoring military to learning how to step to celebrating women… it’s all in there.
At first, I was going to share all my pictures from the day, but I won’t because I want you to visit. I want you to have your own experience.
I will share one thing from my experience that stood out to me. Like wrecked me emotionally…
I just came back from Portugal. I know you’re saying what does that have to do with anything, but bare with me… Walking through the portion of the museum about the slave trade and seeing this on the wall smacked me in my face.
I had a serious reality-check that the beautiful place I just visited was where slavery essentially started. I knew this but it wasn’t in the forefront of my mind while there. As I stood in the museum and saw those dates I started thinking about all the history I heard in Portugal and how different those stories of great times would have been for me. And how even in the midst of an earthquake that destroyed the city, they were still able to keep on trading slaves.
Then the tears started.
I thought of the beautiful square I stood in and fell in love with. Then I remembered they shared it was the center of “commerce” for centuries and I pictured in my head what or who was being sold in that space.
And I cried.
Then I thought about how in my privilege from that port I went out on a boat sailing, by choice. But plenty of others who were in that same water did not have the option.
And I cried some more.
I thought about the large population there from Mozambique, Gabon, and Sao Tome in Lisboa. And then saw this sign that Mozambique was a prime area for traders from Lisbon and read more that Sao Tome was a major hub during the slave trade.
I cried more.
Then I really had a moment when I read that in Porto 30 gallons of port would buy a young male slave. Just weeks before I was outside of Porto in a vineyard at a port tasting.
You get the point…
I don’t want to scare you from visiting but I just want to let you know you can have some moments where you are emotional, both happy and sad.
Heck, I cried and smiled super hard when I walked past the section on Ebony Magazine, because I wrote in it. I smiled when I got to the comedy section and saw Flip Wilson, because my dad made me watch the reruns of that show and it brought back great memories. And I laughed when I overheard a bunch of kindergarteners trying to figure out if George Clinton’s mothership was a spaceship or slave ship. And I was elated in the film section when so many of us in the same space were all reciting movie lines as they played on the screen, specifically with Miss Sophia, as we all said “all my life I had to fight,” in unison.
Like I said I felt all the emotions there.
I want you to experience yours there too.
One other thing I’d like to point out is the diversity that was seen there. Don’t let the name keep you away, it’s actually more of a reason to come in.
In full disclosure, I committed myself to the NMAAHC before I even stepped foot in it, both as a charter member and an ambassador (pledging to promote and give a sum to the museum over time philanthropically). I did this because I believed in whatever story was going to be told there. When I went it just solidified the commitment I made.
I encourage you to find tickets and make your way there. It’s an experience to behold.