The new NMAAHC is nestled on the National Mall at the corner of 14th St. and Constitution Ave. It sits in the shadow of the Washington Monument, and across the green from the Smithsonian castle. The streets in the immediate area, as well as the walkways and sidewalks on the mall, are fenced off, with the crowds behind them three people deep. President Obama and Michelle Obama, and George W. Bush and Laura Bush took the stage at about 10:35 a.m. Programming has begun. Some notable names to speak before President Obama: President George W. Bush Frmr. FL Laura Bush Rep. John Lewis Sec. David Skorton (head of Smithsonian) Chief Justice Roberts Oprah Winfrey Will Smith
This museum opening event is heavy with presidents - Bill Clinton is also in the crowd. President Bush comments follow: "My first reaction is I hope all our fellow citizens come to this place." recounted that 15 years ago members from both political parties informed Bush they were about to introduce legislation to create the museum "It would be fair to say the Congress and I did not always see eye to eye. If you know what I mean, Mr. President." But in this case, Bush said he and his sometimes political opponents were in 100 percent agreement about the need for the museum. "I'm pleased that it now stands where it always belonged -- on the National Mall." said the museum shows a commitment to truth, "A great nation does not hide its history. It faces it flaws and corrects them. This museum tells the truth that a country founded on the promise of liberty held millions in chains." said by staying true to our principles, righting injustice, we will be a greater nation for generations to come Justice Roberts recounted major Supreme Court decisions on racial justice and civil rights issues, Brown v. Board of Education etc., said those cases document shame and hope along the road to equal justice under the law "This museum provides a place for us to learn what life was like for those brave individuals who brought those cases to court." recounted a number of plaintiffs in famous cases, noted their courage said anyone can read the court transcripts and decisions, but if you want to know what those cases were about you need to meet the people at their heart... "And you can do that in this new museum." Will Smith and Oprah just read a few lines of poetry, and now Patti LaBelle is singing "Change is Gonna to Come."
President Obama spoke from 11:56 a.m. to 12:24 p.m. The event was open pool, so won't go heavy with the notes and quotes. But briefly, Obama's remarks started with James Baldwin, touched on how the new museum will help tell a richer and broader story of American history, and how an understanding of our history will help the country within the context of its current debates. Rolling back to WH at 12:42 pm.
The motorcade departed the NMAAHC at 12:42 pm for 2 block ride back to WH.
After a very brief stop at the White House following the museum opening on the National Mall, the presidential motorcade is rolling once more. Secret Seevice is wearing kahki pants and polos. Some might even describe it as golf attire. The skies are a bit gray here in D.C. but questionable weather hasn't kept Obama from hitting the golf course in the past.