The discoveries can come through late-night e-mails, conversations with elderly black women over weak tea, or at a community center where someone brings in their great-grandfather's diploma.
Such is life at the moment for Lonnie G. Bunch III, the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, who is working diligently to bring essential documents and artifacts of the black American story to the public. So far he has a Selmer trumpet once owned by jazz innovator Louis Armstrong, a Jim Crow railroad car from outside Chattanooga, Tenn., a sign from a Nashville bus that reads "This part of bus for colored race," an 1850 slave badge from Charleston, S.C., and a porcelain drinking fountain labeled "colored."
The museum also has a house built about 1874 in Poolesville by the Jones family, freed slaves who founded an all-black community in Montgomery County, as well as a letter signed by Toussaint L'Ouverture, the leader of a successful slave revolt in Haiti, not to mention a cape and jumpsuit from the late soul superstar James Brown, and the 700 garments and 300 accessories from the Black Fashion Museum, which closed in 2007.
Friday, September 04, 2009
An interesting account today from the Washington Post's Jacqueline Trescott: