In many ways, there are few things as powerful and as important as a people, as a nation that is steeped in its history. Often America is celebrated as a place that forgets. This museum seeks to help all Americans remember, and by remembering, this institution will stimulate a dialogue about race and help to foster a spirit of reconciliation and healing.
There are four pillars upon which this museum will stand. The first is to create an opportunity for those that care about or who are interested in African American culture to explore and revel in this history. We will utilize wonderfully interactive exhibitions that are ripe with the best new technologies — but we will never lose the voices and the memories of the people who lived the history. In these exhibitions and presentations the visitors can explore the world, the pain and the resiliency of the enslaved; tap their toes to the music of Duke Ellington, Aretha Franklin, and LL Cool J; appreciate the individual heroism and the collective creativity that was the Civil Rights Movement; celebrate African American cultural expressions like art, dance, theatre; understand what was lost and what was gained as millions of African Americans left the south in the Great Migrations of the World Wars; examine scientific and technological inventiveness; and reflect upon the impact of African Americans on athletics, religion, and urban life. And these are just a few of the riches of African American culture that this museum will make accessible to the millions who visit the Smithsonian Institution.