Three-Day festival celebrates Grand Opening of NMAAHC - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Three-Day festival celebrates Grand Opening of NMAAHC

Source: Alan Karchmer Source: Alan Karchmer
WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWBT) -

A three-day festival is getting underway in our nation's capitol to mark the grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to pack into this area – some traveling coast-to-coast, all with their own stories.

They are here to witness history – not only the historical opening of this museum, but also the past stories of their own ancestors and relatives, and the history they’ve lived through as children.

"The things I've seen, the riots after MLK was assassinated, the things my family has had to go through," said Syvlia Donahue.

Traveling from LA to experience the grand opening, its more than just a museum for Donahue.

"Realizing my great-great-grandfather was actually a slave, those things hit home," said Donahue. "It goes beyond looking at artifacts from an era, its getting recognition of an entire process."

Recognition – and remembrance.

"It is one of the most…astronomical feelings you can have as a black person, knowing what went into building this building," said Andreatta Jones.

Jones is here from Orlando, gathering up her family from along the east coast to join her for this momentous occasion - one she plans to use as a life lesson for the younger generation.

"Killed trying to get the right to vote. That is another thing our kids need to understand, the things we had to go through just to get the right to vote," said Jones.

The right to vote – as the first African American president plans to stand on stage to ring in the celebration.

"This bell, the first African American president, the African American museum, it's full circle for me," said Pastor Reginald Davis with the First Baptist Church.

The bell comes from the First Baptist Church, refurbished by colonial Williamsburg. President Obama will ring it during Saturday’s grand opening.

"I hope the bell tone will remind us we are one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all," said Davis.

That bell will make its way back to colonial Williamsburg where you will have a chance to ring it later this year.

"Freedom Sounds: A Community Celebration," a free three-day festival, will mark the opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture Friday, Sept. 23, through Sunday, Sept. 25.

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