tv National Museum of African American History and Culture Tour CSPAN September 5, 2016 8:00pm-9:11pm EDT
nevada-las vegas on october 19th. live coverage of the presidential and vice presidential debates on c-span. listen live on the free c-span radio app, or watch live or any time on demand at c-span.org. c-span, created by america's cable television companies and brought to you as a public service by your cable or satellite provider. each week american artifacts takes viewers into archives, museums, and historic sites around the country. next, we visit the new smithsonian national museum of african american history and culture, which stands on the national mall in the shadow of the washington monument and within sight of the white house. founding director lonnie bunch leads a hard hat tour through the museum, which opens its doors to the public on september 24th, after a three-hour outdoor ceremony expected to feature president obama.
>> i wanted to welcome you and say, listen, what we want to do today is give you an opportunity to see basically the museum as a work in progress. there are about 40% of all the exhibitions are now complete, and we're working to make sure that we will be very ready on september 24th. the reality of this is pretty simple, 11 years ago we began with a staff of two. we had no idea where the building would be, no sense at all of any of the collections, unlike almost any other museum, not a single object in the collection. we really knew we had to raise a lot of money, we had no money in the bank, and now as a result of some of the gift of staff you're going to meet and a result of thousands of people, we have raised enough money to complete the building. in fact, by september we'll be over our target number. we have collected over -- nearly 40,000 artifacts, of which 4,000 will be in this museum, and instead of two people, there are 200 people who are working to
build this museum. and let me ask my staff to introduce themselves. starting with you, sir. >> my name is rex ellis, good afternoon, i'm the associate director for curetorial affairs here at the museum. >> good afternoon, everyone, my name is mary elliot, and i am a museum specialist and have the pleasure of co-creating the museum exhibition. >> i'm a museum curator, i created the cultural expressions exhibition. >> hello, i'm bill, the senior history curator and co-curator of the exhibition "a changing america: 1968 and beyond." i'm a curator here, as well, and i'll be taking you through the community galleries. i'm the curator of "the power of place." >> i'm charlie yetter, i am the senior project manager on the project. >> i'm doug ross, chief of
smithsonian construction. i'll take you guys through. gave you a brief rundown of the status of the job. we have a lot of floor production down. please be careful when you're walking, watch where you're going, follow our lead and we'll get out of here safely. >> so, let me start with talking about the building. some of you may have heard me talk about it, but let's make sure we're all on the same page. when we wanted to build this museum, we felt it was crucially important to build the building that spoke of uplift, resiliency, that reminded people that there's always been a kind of dark presence in america. there was also undervalued, often misunderstood, so we wanted this building to be what it is, a signature green museum. and so that was really crucial for us. and the finding feature is the corona that you see around, and what's important about the corona is the corona is not just
a design feature, it really helps us in terms of sustainability, and it also helps us in terms of remembering history. a corona comes from the kind of ironwork that enslaved craft people did in charleston, in new orleans, and so that's over the entire building. in a way, the building is a homage to the fact that so much of african-american history is hidden in plain sight. so this is part of our way of remembering all those people who shaped and built america, who we'll never know their names. so that's the building. and that in essence when you come in, you'll be able to come in from the mall side or constitutional avenue side and enter here for orientation and the like, which is unusual for a smithsonian building. eric? >> just to re-enforce the fact that the green lonnie talked about is sustainability. the corona gives us solar shade on the west and southern sides, the most heat gain is blocked by
the solar screen. the lawn that you walked across is actually a green roof of the history gallery below. that's also going towards our sustainability. all of our rain water and surface water run off gets collected into our cisterns and we use for our toilet flushing and irrigation, real nice topic. the three steps to the corona mean nothing. they create the rhythm. >> they mean something, they are pretty. >> no, no, no, they create the architectural rhythm, but they are like the head dress that gave the architects the vision of the silhouette, they do not align with the floors whatsoever. this corona hangs off the building like a lamp shade, little exaggerated, but our structure comes from the four corners you're looking at here, go all the way down and all the way up to the top. when we're down about 90 feet, 60% of the building is below grade, you'll see a lot of that, and i'll point out the oculus when we're down below just to reorient everybody.
>> let's go down. we're going to go all the way down and start working our way up. go in the freight elevator, please. welcome to the largest freight elevator in the smithsonian. not that we're competitive. as derek said, we're going down, 90 feet, 80 feet? >> 90 feet down. going down to the lowest level. we're going to exit out in the utility room. we'll go through very quickly, but back to the sustainability component, we divided this three-quarter acre site, actually, three-quarter acre
mechanical room, divided it up water side over on the east to my right here and to the left is the airside. so we've reclaimed all the water, take it back upstairs, irrigate, but every piece of mechanical system is down here are fifth aside, if you will, the roof is very clear of mechanical components. we were able to do that by agency reviews. we have a flat roof, not accessible, but also no mechanical units on that floor. any questions, asking when we get to a quiet area.
>> so, where you are if you were an average general public, i'll show when we get up there, you'd go into a room that's further up and you'd take this elevator down, and that in essence the way this exhibition is framed, it takes you from africa and europe before contact with each other, all the way into -- all the way into the 21st century. so, in essence, the older stories are down here and as you begin to walk up the ramp you get closer to the present. the first show that you'll only see pieces of is called "slavery and freedom," so mary is one of the co-curators. i'll point out the specific things. >> thank you. there are a few messages that we really want you to understand as you go through this exhibition, then i'm going to walk you
through the exhibition. we are really proud to tell this story and help people understand this is an american story, again, told through the african-american lens. we look at holding on to one's humanity in the midst of some of the most inhumane conditions. we look at the harsh realities of slavery, as well as the resistan resistance, resilience, and survival of a people. we look at the profit and power juxtaposed to the human cost. you're going to enter a story about africa where we really break down the continent of africa that's made up of diverse peoples, cultures, society, intellect. you'll go through a story that tells you about africa and europe and the development of the slave trade. this exhibition goes from 15th century africa all the way to reconstruction. >> follow my lead. we're going to keep walking. again, construction site, so watch where you walk. >> watch your step.
>> okay. so this is the gallery that will be the last finish. we're not going to spend a lot of time in here. we want to point out certain things, but this will look at the slave trade, but one of the things that's really important, you may have all known about the fact we have been working for years to find a slave ship and we found pieces of a slave ship that sank off the coast of capetown and bring those pieces back. most of this exhibition is artifacts, graphics, words, but we also create spaces like this. this is a space where you can go in and in this more darkened space, you will simply have a few artifacts from the ship, you'll have slave shackles, and, in essence, this is where you can go and almost emotionally feel the slave trade. you'll hear the words of people describing it, you'll understand what it was like, and in a way,
what this space is, is a way to think about those who were lost and those who survived the middle passage. so we wanted to make sure there were moments throughout the building that would be surprises that would give you a respite, that would allow you to reflect on what you've seen. then what we try to do is this exhibit will then take you to look at the creation of america and argue that you can't understand american notions of freedom without understanding american notions of enslavement. and in essence, we'll talk about how slavery affected the north, the south carolina, louisiana, but what's most important is, every exhibition in this museum has a goal to humanize these stories. that in essence, in most history museums, we tell the grand story of slavery or migration. we want those stories told. we want you to think about it on the human scale. if you can relate, you can understand, so you're moved by the experience of these people. in essence, part of the goal is
even if we don't know the people, we want to recall their humanity and reclaim their humanity. that's one of the goals of this whole museum. so just follow us and i'll take you around and we can show you some things. all right. do we have everybody? so, part of what happens is, that while you're exploring the creation of the united states, the american revolution, you come out into this open space, which really begins with constitutional convention and the like and takes you into the slavery that most of us know, the 19th century slavery, but what's important is, this wall is called sort of the wall of freedom, and that the goal here is, obviously, to give people a sense of the impact that african-americans have had in shaping our national destiny. we look at the declaration, the constitution, but we go around and we try to find documents
then that are written by african-americans or espoused by african-americans that make concrete, that make manifest, that make real our notions of freedom and equality. so in a way, part of the goal is to suggest that the story of slavery, the story of slavery and freedom, is the quintessential american story. it's not a story about a people, it's a story about a nation, about a country. if you could talk about what they'll see and what some of the graphics are. >> so, as lonnie said, this is a human story, but it's also the story of america. so we start with, again, the declaration of independence and go through the dread scott decision, but one of the things we want people to understand is african-americans were involved in the involvement of the united states from the beginning, so you'll see where as we mention documents like the 1803 louisiana purchase, 1808 end of the international slave trade,
1820-1850 compromise, kansas, nebraska, all the way down the wall, documents you would have learned in school come to life through the african-american lens and as he mentioned, there are many documents we sought out, speeches, sermons, newspaper articles written by african-americans, essentially speaking back to the moment. so you will see these documents in conversation with the african-american community, and you really get an understanding about how african-americans helped develop the notion of freedom, liberty, citizenship in the united states. >> let me now take you back to one of our most important artifacts, a slave cabin from south carolina that mary helped to collect. let's go back and look at the cabin. when we were preparing to build this museum, the number one issue that people wanted to talk about and the number one issue people did not want to talk about was slavery. and in some way we really feel that part of our -- part of our
contribution is helping americans grapple with the impact of slavery. for african-americans, not to see slavery as something that is rather embarrassing, but to remind people that all of us wished we were as strong as our enslaved ancestors, or to help americans realize this is a story that tells us as much about american economic growth, prosperity, american politics, as anything else. and this slave cabin is one of the most important ways to begin to tell that story. by juxtaposing a cabin versus the kind of plantation house of the owner, but to give people a sense of slavery from a human scale, and mary, if you could talk quickly about how you got it and what's in the cabin. then we'll take a peek. >> quickly, my director really wanted a slave cabin, so that was my charge and i was very excited to go in search of that and worked with rex ellis and we were able to find a slave cabin
in south carolina. and i want you to know, we just looked at the founding of america wall, but this right here tells a human story. it is a community story, it's a regional story, and it's an american story. we worked with the historic preservation society, who had this cabin and didn't want to see it fall to the wayside, so they offered it to us, generously. we worked with the community down on the island, including descendents of the enslaved and descendents of the slave holding families, so we're proud to have this in the exhibition. they worked with us to help uncover a lot of the history that's related to this slave cabin, which was produced in 1853 on a plantation. we'll tell the story of slavery and freedom on the front side, but as you go through the exhibition on the back side we tell the story of emancipation, because this cabin is significant to both stories, particularly after emancipation came. it is a site where african-americans received land, land was taken away, received,
taken away, and ultimately the land went back to the slave holding families, so we're excited to tell both stories with this one magnificent object. >> okay, what you have walked through would have been a discussion of slavery told through the words of the enslaved, the civil war, here, as mary said, this begins to talk about freedom, the emancipation proclamation, the 13, 14, 15th amendment, but in all of the floors here on the history galleries we have these booths, where people can add their reflections, add their notions of what this means, but that also is new information for us. people will tell family stories and we'll be able to use that as we move forward and make changes into the exhibitions or do more things on the web, so the goal here is to make sure while there's a lot of technology in terms of making it accessible to a variety of generations, the key for us is to get the public
to share their thoughts, their notions, their histories with us like they have already, so that can inform the work we do. so, we would have left slavery and freedom, and now we're marching our way up to reconstruction. so each of these ran, to the end of each one is a major media piece that is a transition. this media piece is a form of reconstruction that prepares you for the age of segregation. and so as we go to each one, there will be a major story to help you understand the next piece you're looking at. one of the things that we really want people to understand is that history is not stagnant, the experience of african-americans is not stagnant, and this is a cabin that paul collected from poolsville, maryland. this is a cabin built immediately after the civil war by a newly freed community, but
what is important about it is many things. first of all, it's a desire after slavery to come together as communities, as families, to support each other as they began that transition from slavery to freedom, but also freedom is so important, it's hard to describe how important freedom was for people that didn't have it. so for these, for many folks, when they were able to build this cabin, they realized that most slave cabins were one story. so they built two stories, and that second story speaks of freedom. it is in some ways freedom made concrete, made manifest, so for us, this juxtaposition being able to look down at the cabin from the island and then juxtapose it with this amazing cabin from poolsville helps people in profound ways understand all the things that must have gone through people's minds as they tried to figure out what it means to be free and this cabin is one of the
examples of that. so this whole section, and bill, where are you, bill? could you frame the section we're looking at? >> sure. with the destruction of slavery, the issue becomes for all americans, what does it mean to have free african-americans amidst us, how does the nation define their freedom, what are the limitations that each plays on the other, so there's literally a contest and you have african-americans building not only their houses, but institutions, organizations, schools, educational system, churches, community groups, all of which are meant to give themselves control over their lives. and on the other hand you have efforts by the larger society to contain those efforts and what evolves is a very rigid and all encompassing sense of segregation enforced by law. and that sets up then what happens later on, which is the resistan resistance, which is constant during this time period, and yet
which blossoms, if you will, in the mid 20th century as an effort to obtain civil rights and to establish freedom in a new sense, different from the sense that was defined after the civil war. >> as derek says, the first time i've seen this. this is an interactive lunch counter that's going to allow the public to bring their own knowledge, put together their own stories around the civil rights movement. it's also, obviously, capable of being used by individuals, but also classes. so teachers can control how this would work. and so that's not bad. okay. i've seen this as a 12-inch screen, so this looks much better. i like it. but the point is -- >> glad you like it. >> i hope so, it cost enough. the point is, again, throughout the museum, we're trying to find all the different ways, the different platforms, to educate, so that this talks about the civil rights movement itself,
the struggles, the challenges, as bill framed it, but we also wanted to be able to create some -- have some artifacts that would really be dramatic and help people understand the power of discrimination, so what you have here is -- i guess we're going to go up, too, this is a segregated railroad car from southern railways of 1929. this is one of the cars -- this is one of the artifacts that we brought into the museum before the roof was closed because we wouldn't be able to get it in otherwise, so what this means is that 40 years from now a director is going to be cursing my name, but this is going to be here forever. and this is important, because this gives the public an opportunity to walk through a segregated railroad car, to understand what it was like for the white community, for the african-american community, and in there, again, you'll hear the words of people talking about what it felt like to pay for your ticket, to walk through the
part where you saw what the white community could see, then went to where you are. so i think this is something we can walk up and do that. the second artifacts that's so large is this is the guard tower from angola prison in louisiana. and part of the goal was to talk about the impact of the criminal justice system on america, on african-americans, this particular tower helps us understand the story of sort of the convict lease system and after the civil war that many african-american men were tried on minor charges, put in prison, and then their labor was leased to governments, to companies, to people who are building roads. in essence, to sort of keep them under control and to use the labor much like they did during enslavement, but these two artifacts will probably never move. so what we'd like to do is let you go up and derek can show you and give you a peek inside the car. be careful of all this.
>> so our visitors will be able to walk through here, give them a good sense between the white only and colored only section, also walk around the rail car so they can see the overview of the slavery gallery that we just left. >> what year is this from? 1940 something? >> i wasn't listening. this actually came from tennessee, then kentucky. no, not from where we're storing it ourselves, we've lowered it in here. this is the grass above, so when you came into the building and walked across the lawn, that's the lawn above us, that's the green roof. so we've lowered this car, weighed 80 tons without the wheels with just this one freestanding wall, so we had to get close enough not to collapse the hole, but not to overstress the two cranes that lowered it into the site. one thing you might have noticed is the angle of the wall. it's about a four-degree slope.
lonnie talked about the outreached hands, this is also an homage to that, but also gives a nice false perspective of this room really opens up. out board of this wall is a two-meter thick concrete wall that holds back the surface. this is a freestanding 65-foot tall freestanding column, if you will, so it's got a lot of lateral load on it and that thick to keep the pressure from the earth above from pushing in on us. engineering is a very, very stout wall. >> we've had a collecting effort at louisiana state penitentiary for a number of years. we were invested in collecting jail cell, which we did, and you'll see up in the "power of place" exhibition, but part of the conversations, we got to talking about other potential objects on the built environment. angola is the largest maximum security prison in america. it's the size, basically, of
manhattan, and there are thousands of people imprisoned there. most of them, the vast majority of them, are african-american men. so when we had the opportunity to collect this tower, we jumped at the chance and thought about what that meant after. and so what it meant is that we had to take it in two large pieces. the bottom and the top. and we had to contract with a firm to get clearance to get on to the prison. it was collected from a defunct part of the prison, and they had to cut it in half, truck it up here, along with the train car, which was in tennessee, right? and get plucked and placed into the building where it was put back together. >> watch your steps.
thanks for your work, i appreciate it. >> that plane was given to the museum and paul was instrumental in that, as well, but it was given -- well, it was a combination of a gift/purchase for the museum to help us talk about the tuskegee airmen from world war ii. it is a great, great story of an air force pilot who wanted to
find a plane that he could play with and that he could sort of put together as a hobby. the more he began to put the plane together, and he found the sort of hull of the plane, the more he put it together, he had to find a variety of serial numbers that sort of gave parts of the plane. those serial numbers revealed that the plane was, indeed, one of the few tuskegee trainer planes that was used and that was sort of stationed at molten field in alabama, tuskegee, alabama. so the more he found out, captain matthew quay was his name, and the more he found out about the plane, the more he wanted to learn about it and about the tuskegee airmen, whom he knew nothing about. he succeeded in rebuilding the plane. he succeeded in finding and
touching base with tuskegee airmen. he convinced them to fly with him to a variety of places that held air shows around the country. he actually -- we helped him put together an exhibition, sort of portable exhibition, and so he flew the plane around, telling the story that he didn't even know before he discovered the plane. and then finally decided to contribute the plane to the museum and we gave him just a bit of money, so that he could then purchase another plane so he could continue with his hobby. but from california, i believe, he flew the plane from california to washington, d.c., and he circled it around the national harbor, which is where the tuskegee airmen were having their annual conference, and they all gathered outside and watched as the plane circled the harbor and then headed to dulles
airport, where it was decommissioned to prepare for this exhibition. isn't that a great story in. >> so this is 1968 to the present, and the goal was, if those of you, the few of you that are old enough to remember the '60s, that one of the things was pickets. there was a lot of picket signs everywhere, so we took that notion of pickets and began to use them. there is a nation of islam uniform in there, black panther material, material on culture and literature, on women, and bill can talk about what we were trying to accomplish and give them a little bit on the resurrection city. >> sure. so, visitors have been through ab exhibition dealing with enslavement, then through an exhibition dealing with the era of segregation, formal segregation. now all of a sudden the success of the civil rights movement in the 1960s does away with legal
segregation, but what does freedom now mean in this new situation? and, in fact, there's kind of a shift in the tone. not in the goals, but in the tone of what was known as the traditional classic civil rights movement and then becomes something called black power. and so what we've tried to evoke in this section with the picket sign designs is the sense of energy, and for those of us who graduated from high school in 1968, we remember just exactly how traumatic that year was. this is the year in which martin luther king jr. is assassinated. it is the year in which robert kennedy is assassinated. this is the year in which the democratic national convention in chicago turns into what was termed later a police riot. this is the year in which the antiwar movement reaches a crescendo. this is the year in which this nation is on edge in many ways. we've tried to evoke that in this section when there is
music, think about the emotion that will come out as you hear the music of the late 1960s. one of the key notes of that era was just before his death, martin luther king established a slightly larger vision, a vision around economic justice that was to include explicitly all manner of americans, all different groups, and the idea was to bring pressure on the federal government by creating an encampment here in washington, d.c., called resurrection city and then working to lobby and work on legislation with various government agencies. so resurrection city was an encampment of 3,500 people on the mall, alongside of the reflecting pool, and plywood and canvas tents were erected for the residents, and on those plywood sides, residents created their own murals, hundreds of them, and we were able to collect from an individual who
would salvage one of those murals after the camp was destroyed and it kept it for the last 50 years. we were able to collect one of those murals, so the resurrection city is part of the last vision of martin luther king and also marks a transition to a world of the civil rights movement in which king is not the major leader. so there is a change in tone. >> the other thing that's important on resurrection city, you've seen on this mural, is you suddenly see latino issues. you see that the movement is not a single movement for one community, but rather a movement for democracy and economic fairness for many communities, and i think that's an important transition that people have been trying to fulfill that vision ever since then. so, in this piece we get everybody?
so, in this piece, this is a piece that begins to look at the '70s, '80s, '90s, 2000, and some of the signature moments. so this is, you can obviously tell, will be part of the set of oprah winfrey. i think someone who is pivotal in sort of our understanding of the change in television, the role of women, issues of race, and then each of these gives you peeks into some of the artifacts of the era. bill, give them an idea of some of the things they'll see. >> so, from the 1970s you have sly sylvester's keyboard. from the 1980s you have jesse jackson for president materials. from the 1990s you have nelson mandela and the million man march, and then from the 2000s, you have a voting booth, the hanging chad voting booth from a florida precinct, and you have material from katrina, and this is where in a way it's a very quick overview, but, in fact,
remember unlike the slavery exhibition or even the era of segregation, every person who comes through this exhibition has a personal experience, is able to draw personally a memory associated with at least some of these artifacts and images. and, in fact, in the sense that journalism is the first draft of history, we're encouraging people because of our reflection booth right at the end of this hallway to participate in creating that history that is reflection that is more than simply just journalistic in the first draft of history. we didn't feel competent to make those judgments. we want our visitors to do that. >> okay, now, so for example there's some wonderful things like this public enemy poster, banner, but also we have a case down here that looks at barack obama. and the goal was not to look at the legacy of obama, but to
really talk about the impact of the election, to look at that as a transformative moment. we talked about how we wanted to create sense of surprises and moments of this grand space is a space that, obviously, you would come out after you've gone through all these history galleries. that's how you would enter if you were the general public, gone through history galleries, take that elevator down. behind you over here if you remember the oculus that was pointed out to you where the water will flow down, can't see in it, it's hard to see in it, but that's a reflective space that's going to have water coming down. 60 feet, derek? 80 feet? a lot of water. there will be a few quotations and be a nice, wonderful spot. in this space you have our restaurant will be to the right, our changing exhibition galleries will be to the left, and behind me is the oprah winfrey theater. in front of us is this wonderful
sculptural stairway that derek can tell you about. >> it's a freestanding stair, no columns, no support. it will be our connection from our central hull above, down to the oprah winfrey theater. you can see here it's the perfect example how the corona, the facade, sets off from the structure, creates this very nice atrium space, clear to the fifth floor deck and on a day like today you see how much light you're cast in. you're about 35 feet below grade still. so it doesn't seem like you're down in a basement area. it's a real open area, exciting sort of space. you can imagine this space with about 2,000, 3,000 people walking around talking about what they've seen. exciting space, very dynamic. >> one thing you'll see, already you notice the building is about vistas and views. the goal was, when you go into a building traditionally, what you go into is the building you forget you're on the mall. here we wanted to say the mall
is sacred space, the mall gives you an opportunity to look out at arlington cemetery, where many of the african-americans who fled from freedom during the civil war ended up dying. >> robert e. lee. >> robert e. lee, custiss e. lee mansion. the lincoln memorial, the goal was to basically say near this site, so much happened that is important. slave pens where people were sold on pennsylvania avenue, so the goal is to say, we want you in the building, we want you to recognize where this building is, so that's one of the joys of it. so we'll go into the oprah winfrey theater, which is an example of how we use the corona in interesting ways. so if you'll just follow us.
welcome to the oprah winfrey theater. you can see we took the corona and brought it inside, lightened it up. this will hold about 360 seats. and this is really going to be one of our major spaces for public programs. this stage has got state of the art soundproofing and sort of wonderful opportunities for film, for dancing, for spoken word, so, in essence, this is really one of those surprises in the building. and oprah was here, and she likes it. that helps. >> she did the happy dance. >> she did the happy dance. and now we're going to cut through and head back to the elevator and go up to the third floor. now we're going up to three. as i said, the museum is divided
into thirds. one-third where the history galleries that you looked at. a second third is the community galleries that paul will talk about and frame for you, and then the final third are really the culture galleries. so the notion was that the galleries you went through will give you that narrative, will take you from africa to today, and then these other galleries go into detail in different areas, whether it's sports or military, whether it's music, whether it's theater, dance, so in essence, in the best of world you start down and work your way up. we know it's never going to happen that way, but the reality is, we want to make sure at the very least the public school kids can get a sense of the narrative to understand how this history fits in and how they fit into the history. >> i have some things that have come up in this elevator.
okay, why don't you talk about this floor. >> so right now we're in the heart of the community floor. as lonnie mentioned, you know, one of the big goals of the museum is to provide people with a variety of views into this history, into this culture. and so we wanted to create a floor that focused on issues of community, small and large. and so on this floor, let me just orient you very quickly. behind you is the national mall. and behind me is constitution avenue. on this floor there are four exhibitions. and they all -- they all rely on and explore themes of community,
from the -- from very small places and neighborhoods, the exhibition you're in right now is the power of place, to large topics and themes of community, such as the military and national belonging. and the military exhibition, military history exhibition, is to me right, your left. to sports fans and communities that are created through sport, and that is to my left and your right. it's called leveling the playing field. the glue that ties these galleries together is an exhibition that wraps the floor called making a way out of no way. making a way out of no way is a central organizing and in some ways spiritual concept for african-american history and culture and communities across time. this exhibition focuses on
strategies for improvement through education. strategies for equality through politics and protest. strategies for integration in some respects, so it looks at religion, community, it looks at politics, and it looks at individuals and communities. and that is the skin of what we're looking at here. right now you're in my exhibition called the power of place. >> sit down, he's going to talk for an hour. >> here we go. the power of place really looks at this question of places, and what do we mean by place? well, you know, for our museum it's crucially important that we let people know that african-american history is broad and wide, and we need to find a way to represent it in all of its geographic diversity
from north, south, east, and west, but place is more than that. place is something we all feel and we all have. place is emotional and place is about memory. and so what we've done here is we've identified ten unique places across time and across region that we dip people into in a somewhat immersive way, from the bronx in the 1970s looking at the development of the bronx through the lens of hip hop, to the chicago -- to chicago and the chicago defender in the 1930s and '40s and looking at making of a black metropolis, to tulsa, oklahoma, and 1921 and looking at the resilience of the african-american community in greenwood in response to one of the most devastating race riots in our country's history. this is what we -- this is what we drop people into in power of place, intimate stories, that
humanize the big history across place and time. then the middle we have what we call the hub. it's a central place, where after you look at a few of the case studies, you can return and at the center of the hub will help visitors explore ideas about community, stories about place and displacement, stories about movement and migration, and a lot of these stories will be driven by people themselves. it will be the heart of it will be of a wonderful interactive digital table that will be crowd sourced with people's stories of their own places that will continually refresh and reload. and so it will help us to bring that sense of both diversity and uniqueness, but also that sense of personalness and emotionalism that we want to bring to all the corners of this museum. that's what the power of place
is. >> so what we're going to do is watch yourself here, this show will talk about everything from the role of african-americans in the olympics, football, basketball, tennis, golf, but the most important thing is much like the way we talk about the military. the goal is to say on the one hand you will explore this because you like sports, you want to see jackie robinson steal home, you want to see tiger woods make that putt, but for us, the real story is, what is the meaning of sport? how is sport used to integrate america? how is sport used to say if i could run as fast or catch as well, that maybe equality in other areas would follow. so it's really important to realize that while this is about wonderful athletic moments, it's really about moments that help transform america, and that's why one of the objects, one of the images you'll see that will be a statue here of the 1968
black power olympics with tommy smith and john carlos, so we really set the stage that is both about athletic achievement, but also about political consequences, so we're just going to quickly go through and take you through baseball so you can see how you do certain things. so stay with me. >> you guys pinky swore that you'd stay together. >> stay with me. >> why don't you tell them what those are. >> these are carl lewis' medals from los angeles, seoul, barcelona, and atlanta. >> in addition to seeing all this wonderful material, what you've got is this is the wall of game changers. so the notion is, here are people whose athletic achievement transcended sport. so it's paul robeson as an all-american football player but
also an actor and activist. when we talk about title ix, the impact on women and what that meant for women's athleticism, the harlem globetrotters, so in essence it's really about, again, trying to give you more detail than you might normally think and each of these go into a different sport. we're going to cut through baseball on the way to the fourth floor. it's a little tight in here, so be careful where you walk. >> so again, always thinking of different ways to engage and entertain, so, obviously, this is a baseball stadium, so you actually get to sit, watch film footage, but it's also an example of the kind of vistas we have. we have these moments throughout the building where you can peek and see where you are and at various stages we will have sort
of information that will tell you not just what you're looking at, but what was once there. so you begin to see the evolution of the mall and evolution of a period. so we're going to take you now, >> there's creativity. the african-americans brought to the cultural production. also, the culture -- it helps
people grapple with discrimination. helps people find joy even amongst difficult times so that in essence this is a place of celebration. it's also a place that helps us understand how people believe in a better day when they shouldn't have believed in a better day. >> so to orient you around the fifth floor. it's the highest floor of the exhibition galleries of all the entire museum. there are four culture gallery on this floor for different visual arts gallery, which takes you through a journey through african-american and their production of art and how they contributed to the history of american art. there's a gallery called musical crossroads that also takes you on a journey through the different genres of music the african-americans to help produce. the moment they came as enslaved africans all the way up to the present day, there's taking the stage which looks at african-americans in theater and
film and television and the long struggle for the control over their representation in those forms and the achievements that they made in those different mediums. there's also cultural expressions that we're talking about here, which looks at cultural traits and practices that some people think are identifiable with african-americans. it looks at food, right, and you are going to look at soul food. it looks at dance, social dance. it looks at speech patterns, and it looks at body language. what we're really trying to do in this exhibition is expand your awareness of what is considered african-american culture. when you go to the food section, you're not just going to be learning about soul food, but you are going to be learning about other cuisines that african-americans contribute to the development because, as chef joe randall says, we're always in everyone's kitchen, right? you'll see hercules who was george washington's cook and was known as a celebrated french chef. you'll learn about thomas downey who owned a fine dining establishment in new york. oyster house, actually. in the fashion section a lot of
people associate fashion with african-american hip-hop, right, urban wear is a billion dollar mark market today, and you'll hear about ann lowe, and the entire bridal party's dresses, and you'll learn about arthur mcgehee, one of the first fashion designers to break the color barrier in a fashion industry. >> if you look at the top of that post, it's -- it's the shape that inspired the shape of our museum building, actually. it's a sculpture by a crossman in the known in nigeria today. he is known for his craftsmanship. these used to hold up platforms and indoor courtyards and
palaces, and it's one of -- it's one of the sources that actually inspired the shape of this building. it's there to speak to how much africa brought -- how much african traits are still existing here in the united states. how much africa is a source of inspiration and racial pride for african-americans here's as they create music and as they create poetry. you'll see examples of that throughout galleries where. >> what i would like to do is -- is there something specific you want to talk about your gallery before i move on? >> you go ahead. >> you sure snl this is gallery that's so cool. i come here and just hang out. >> can i speak about the language. there are four sections. there are four sections in this gallery. there's cuisine, as i mentioned before. there is language, which looks at everything from different languages that african-americans spoke. they were some certain regions that create a new language, and also things like slang,
african-american english ver vernacular. it looks at where you live in the united states and it was used for multiple purposes, including liberation. there were these great debaters. some of may have seen the movie that denzel washington did. historically black institutions train these students to learn to master the art of debate. they could defeat stereotypes about african-american inferiority throughout the country. it looks at dj's and how black dj's, when they finally got access to the mainstream, helped create community by putting black expressions and the sounds and the music that african-americans were most interested out in the airwaves. it also looks at political rhetoric. people like malcolm x and martin luther king and how they used political speech as a tool for liberation. fashion looks at more than just clothing. it looks at hair. the styles that evolved over time, and the real struggle to move away from the idea that straight hair was better hair or straight hair was good hair to
adopting more natural styles and being proud of curly natural hair on african-american communities, and it also looks at image and identity. it looks at skin issues within the community. >> all of us are seeing pictures of marion anderson when she sang at the lincoln memorial in easter morning 1939. we didn't realize that's the color she wore. we always have seen it in black and white. this is what she wore when she sang. behind me over here is camp calloway, 1929 suit. as you can imagine, the array of musical talent that we're going to talk about. there's a ray charles material. michael jackson's fedora. this is whitney houston's dress. deon warwick. then one of me favorites, not that i have any influence, but
earth, wind, and fire. then we have material from cool and the gang. i mean, what's so powerful about this is, again, we, the biggest challenge of the museum was building the collections, and the staff has done such a good job being able to find this amazing material. so i want you to get a quick look at this is the music, and the work -- in the center when this is done, there will be a dance floor. you'll be able to go in and you'll be nfled by screens that will give you some of the greatest performances in african-american musical history, and if you want to dance, like rex ellis does all the time, you would be able to sort of go outs and dance. it's got some amazing things. when you think of the struggle
to present images of african-americans that weren't just stereotypical, it's a long struggle, and we play i loot of that out. kwl you come in here, be careful because we walk around the ladder. when you come in here, you see the piano from august wilson's fences. you see costumes from "the whiz" over here. i want to show you my favorite artifact in this whole gallery. we have a lot of amazing things. this is one of the rarest things we have. this is from 1857. it's a play bill where ira aldridge is playing ophelo for the first time. for the first time somebody black is actually playing othello. he had to lead the country, and he did this performance for about a week, i guess, and to me as somebody that went to howard,
went to george auditorium all the too imand didn't know who the guy was, to suddenly be able to have something that is powerful as this, it's simple, but i think it's one of the great joys of the museum to be able to find these kinds of treasures. >> what's it -- >> is it it is in the theater royal. where is the city? it's not manchester. there it is. new castle. and so part of the cool stuff you'll see won't go close because it's blocked, but this is one of my favorite things right here. these are costumes for colored girls. a wonderful play from the 1970s. when you look we're going to go back that way because the doors are blocked. i'll show you something else.
>> go back this way. >> one of the joys is to be able to collect african-american film. it's one of my areas of interest. we were able to get amazing collection of movie posters such as the ones behind you. that's an early oscar m poster from the 1920s, and then this is part of our job is to help people relearn history they think they know. that movie poster is from spencer williams. he is known by most people as playing amos and andy. yet, he was one of the most famous black film directors in the late 1930s and 1940s. we have amazing things in here. i won't point them all out to you, but that beautiful dwreen gown, that was lena horn in "stormy weather." okay? and then those of you that
watched bad black exploitation movies, that's from "the mac" in the 1970s. some people get really angry. and then this is eddie murphy from "beverly hills cop." in essence, again, trying to show both what the movies were, but what they're really about. the struggle, again, to define and control one's identity. take a quick peek, and then we're going to go to the last stop. we want to re-introduce people to mom's mayblee and stu williams and gregory. you know, so the goal here is to realize -- film, television theater to be very exciting. one of the wonderful moments in the museum. the other thing is i said that this museum is also about vistas and views. we wanted to create opportunities for the public to really get some great views. outside here we're going to i
that you to the overlook where you really get the great view of the washington -- of the national mall. were. >> thank you. >> oh, yeah, you're right. i didn't notice. >> what a view. this is a place to be able to come and just get vistas. obviously you can see everything. you can see the custus lee mansion. when the fall comes and there's no leaves, can you see the white house. in esebs, what this is is you have gotten the nickel tour of the museum, and i wanted to thank you. before i let you all head back
down to see if there were any questions that i could answer for you, because i know we went through quickly, but i wanted you to get a sense of the possibilities of the museum. if there are any questions, i'll answer them. we get the most important question out of the way right now. i'm a yankee fan. let's be clear. okay? >> go mets. >> now i'll do the rest. >> the visiting of this museum is something i expect people to come back to. a cool drink of water. come back to time and time again. i expect there is amazing knowledge in this museum based on the curations. no one person is going to be able to get all this knowledge. with paul knows or rex knows or joanne knows. what we really feel this is a really important educational opportunity because of that knowledge, and because it's the smithsoni smithsonian. candidly there are people who come to the smithsonian who will wrestle with these issues. wrestle with race.
wrestle with other issues that they won't anywhere else. we realize we'll have four to five million visitors annually walking in the door. >> 70 million to 80 million visit oz on-line. yes, it's about the information that we convey, but it's really about helping america understand how it's been profoundly shaped by the story. and to be able to have the kind of program like we had one recently on ferguson, baltimore, and so we want to do things that are about joy, but we don't want to run away from the pain.
>> i think that when we first started the idea, we didn't really think about the corona. that's become a signature piece that really wasn't part of our discussions. i think the pleasant surprise has been how the public has shared their artifacts, their stories. it's as if people said it's about time. so in some ways what we know as curators and scholars is the biggest pleasant surprise is how important it is for us to realize that we're not building collections or museums, but away we're doing is holding people's culture in our hands. we think that is the most important responsibility we have. that's how big a deal this has
become so so many people. maybe a surprise. >> everyone actuality you gid into the cab, people talk about it. a man said, boy, have you seen that new museum? what new museum? when he told me everything about it. >> it's been wonderful to see the way people have embraced it. the joy, the desire that people want for this museum, and that's surprised me. >> you can watch this any time by visiting our website c-sp c-span.org/history.
>> we're live from arlington house, the robert e. lee memorial. the most historic home in the park system. here's a preview. >> on august 25, 1916 president woodrow wilson signed a law that created the national park system. the washington monument and the national mall where we're standing is part of that system. this is a uniquely american idea. the concept that the nation's most beautiful lands don't belong to a ruling class, but to the american people. it's their right to visit these spaces and to enjoy them. places such as the grand canyon, yellowstone, the statue of liberty. they've become familiar to us and many are known around the world. they are our nation's crown jewels. president obama on a visit to yosemite's waterfalls told the crowd it's almost like the spirit of america itself is right here. today there are 84 million acres in the system and 410 sites, including 59 national parks. 128 historical parks.
25 battle fields, and 10 national sea shores. last year some 300 million people visited the national park locations. when people think of national parks, they ushlgly think of grand natural spaces like the everglades, but along the way the national park service took up a second mission of telling the american story. the lincoln memorial, the washington monument, and even president's park which surrounds the white house, are all part of the national park service narrative. this mission was literally carved into the stone of mount rushmore by its skup tore who wrote the purpose of the memorial it is to communicate the founding expansion, preservation, and unification of the united states. but the american story is complicated, so in the 21st century the national park service is taking the leave and trying to reconcile dualing story lines at many historic sites across the country. arlington house, which sits on the hill of president john f. kennedy's grave site at arlington national cemetery, is an example of that effort. it's the park system's most
visited historic home. today visitors to arlington house learned the several story lines connected to the 19th century southern mansion from george washington and the revolutionary war to robert e. lee and the civil war, and they learned about the enslaved people who lived their lives on the 1,100 acre estate and whose legacies live on in their descendants. >> watch the entire program on monday at 11:00 a.m. and 1 1:00 p.m. eastern time. american history tv every weekend and holidays too. only on c-span 3. >> we're going to win with education. we're going to win with the second amendment. we're going to win. >> ahead, live coverage of the presidential and vice presidential debates on c-span. the c-span radio app. and c-span.org. monday, september 26th, is the first presidential debate.
live from hofstra university in hempstead, new york. then on tuesday, november 4th, vice presidential candidates debate at longwood university in farmville, virginia. on sunday, october 9th, washington university in st. louis hosts the second presidential debate. leading up to the third and final debate between hillary clinton and donald trump. taking place at the university of nevada, las vegas, on october 19th. live coverage of the presidential and vice presidential debates on c-span. listen live on the free c-span radio app. or watch live or any time on demand at c-span.org. >> archaeological excavation of a slave ship that wrecked off the south african coast in 1794 is adding a new chapter to the trans-atlantic slave trade story. the smithsonian's national museum of african-american history and culture is a global partner in the ship's recove,