“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” -Maya Angelou, “All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes”
Boldly embossed on a gallery wall of the third floor, Maya Angelou’s words are some of the last you encounter at the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). The quote hangs over the heads of the visitors like a hopeful coda, illustrating this sense of “home” that visitors have arrived at in their journey through the floors of African American history, and speaking indeed to the place of home that has been forged with this museum.
I was lucky enough to read Maya Angelou’s words for myself this weekend, after the Grand Opening dedication ceremony. I joined the 28,000 visitors who gathered together to see the opening of the museum and to hear President Obama address a nation with the hope that this museum would “bind us together, and reaffirm[s] we are all Americans.”
Alongside his wife, Michelle—the first black woman to be the First Lady of the United States—and Ruth Bonner—the 99-year-old daughter of a man born a slave—President Obama rang the Freedom Bell and called African Americans home.
Photo credit: Alan Karchmer / NMAAHC