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It Took More Than 100 Years to Open the Smithsonian’s African American History Museum

It Took More Than 100 Years to Open the Smithsonian’s African American History Museum
Photograph by Evy Mages.

President Obama rings a Freedom Bell to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, fulfilling a 100-year-old dream: Visitors can witness the entire arc of the black experience in America, from the Atlantic slave trade to the Black Lives Matter movement. But the process leading to this day wasn’t without false starts and controversies. Here, a few milestones in the long journey to make the museum a reality.

African American museum
Photographs of NMAAHC construction site and groundbreaking by Michael Barnes. Photograph of NMAAHC by Alan Karchmer. Timeline by Manyun Zou.

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Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.