Honoring a Visionary
Our associates were given a rare glimpse into a museum 100 years in the making on a special afternoon in January, celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was an uplifting program featuring a performance by Mosaic Harmony and a presentation by Mary Elliott, a museum specialist with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Mary helped research, conceptualize and design the “Slavery and Freedom” inaugural exhibition. She contributed to the exhibition script, consulted with expert scholars, and identified and secured collection donations including the antebellum slave cabin that will be featured in the museum.
Her talk was captivating as the audience of nearly 200 people listened intently as she talked about her deep commitment to the work and the collection of objects that tell the powerful stories of slavery.
Below are perspectives about the opening of the new museum from some of our associates.
Karen Wyche, nursing director, Nursing Office and Supplemental Staff
I’m super excited about the opening of this museum. I have timed entry passes for the first day! I’m a history buff, so anything that speaks to our heritage, our successes and opening a museum like this validates the importance of it all. As I travel around, I always seek out historical sites, landmarks, anything that speaks to the truth of a place. The exhibits at this museum will speak a lot of truth about our history. I am preparing myself to experience what it was like when my ancestors were slaves.
Silvester Stokes, business manager, Department of Nursing, Patient Care Services
Mary Elliott’s presentation during the MLK celebration and remembrance program was emotional and touching but also very informative. As a curator, she has positioned herself not only to tell history to others but to represent and make history that relates to our diverse and changing society. The story that stirred me the most was the story about the slave house; where the decedents of both the slave and owner families came together in harmony, peace, support, and civil conversation to help the museum’s curators accept ownership of the old slave house. The story itself and the pictures shown proved evidence that Dr. King’s dream lives on….. “I have a dream …. the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”
Phronie Jackson, MPH, community health outreach manager, Community Relations
This is wonderful! It is time for our story to be told and there’s no better place than on the National Mall. So much of our history has been altered and now, we have a museum that will be a truthful depiction of the contributions African-Americans have made to this country. I’m part of the D.C. Host Committee and we’re working to inform thousands of visitors and the community about the grand opening weekend. Check out dchost.org for more details.