Rev. Jesse Jackson visits NMAAHC - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Rev. Jesse Jackson visits NMAAHC

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWBT) -

Crews have been working around the clock, preparing for opening day at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It turns out one of the curators has a special local connection.

After an official act of Congress and more than four years of construction, the museum is taking it's place on the National Mall.

Museum curator Michele Gates Moresi's son is a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University.

"We live in Maryland, and I thought, 'wow, you are going to the other side in Virginia,' but it's all good. We love Richmond," said Moresi.

It's fair to say taking on the gargantuan task of illustrating major periods of African American history is virtually impossible without stopping off in Central Virginia.

For example, a digitized photograph of the Robert R. Moton High School for African Americans - the school was built in 1953 in Prince Edward County following a student-led strike in protest of segregated and inferior school facilities. This image is now on display in the nation's capital, courtesy of VCU libraries.

"Really, Richmond is a rich historical place, and VCU has wonderful collections. So we are really glad that we were able to work with them and be able to find and use that picture as part of our exhibition," said Moresi.

This is a sprawling 400,000-square-foot facility that starts on the lowest level covering things like slavery, and then you make your way up from slavery to things like the inauguration of the nation's first black president.

"And so against those odds. Against those waves and backlashes we've gone from the hull of ships to the White House. What a journey," said Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Jackson called his visit to the museum a bitter-sweet occasion.

"I wish Dr. King and Fannie Lou Hamer were here, for just a moment in time, to see the fruit of their labors," said Jackson.

"I've been working on the project myself for about ten years. So to actually be here physically is pretty exciting," said Moresi.

The museum's 12 inaugural exhibitions are grouped around three main themes: history, community and culture. There is plenty for the entire family to take in.

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