Dear Charter Members and Friends,
The Smithsonian today announced that the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) will open to the public on Saturday, September 24, 2016. The opening will be the focus of a week-long celebration that begins with a dedication ceremony on September 24th and will include extended visiting hours and a three-day festival on the National Mall showcasing popular music, literature, dance and film. Also planned are events co-hosted by other museums around the country and the world.
Wow, what a day Saturday, September 24 is going to be in Washington.
A few steps north of Mount Vernon Square, authors and book fans from across the country will fill the Convention Center for the 16th Annual National Book Festival. On the National Mall and just a few steps from the Washington Monument, President Obama and what is sure to be a long and winding line of people will be a part of the grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
I’m guessing the organizers of the former are not exactly thrilled with the latter’s announcement of the date. Then again, Washington is a place used to holding multiple events, and there’s no reason folks can’t see both.
It’s not a zero sum game either, but clearly the spotlight will shine the brightest when the NMAAHC swings open its doors for the first time.
Some might question the September date for the Grand Opening as non-meaningful or are asking - why the conflicting date? We’re certain it relates to Emancipation Day. Some communities use January 1 or Junteenth’s June 19. The District of Columbia uses April 16, the date President Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act.
September 22nd is the day President Lincoln issued the preliminary proclamation in 1862. This date emerged in some towns and cities. The warmer weather meant more participation in parades and outdoor events. In election years, some leaders used the September 22nd events to campaign for candidates in the run up to the November elections.
Some places also adjusted as to allow the event on the weekend.
Anyway, mark your calendars. September 24.
And if you see Lonnie Bunch, give him a hug...