This weekend marked the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. After Rep. John Lewis and others spent decades battling Congress for funding, the museum opened its doors on Sunday from 7 a.m. to midnight, according to the New York Times. It’s a celebration of the black community’s contributions to the United States, but it also highlights the injustices faced by an often marginalized group. More than anything, it’s crucial to our understanding of our national identity. The museum comes at a time when racist policing has taken center stage, and just months before the first black president of the United States steps down.
On Saturday, President Barack Obama helped inaugurate the museum. He stood in front of thousands and repeated Langston Hughes’ words, “I too, am America.” “African American history is not somehow separate than the American story,” he said according to the Washington Post. “It is not the underside of the American story. It is central to the American story.”
The 400,000 square-foot museum sits on the National Mall and features more than 36,000 artifacts that aim to explore all parts of blackness. While the intersection between black and Latino identities aren’t always acknowledged, it’s an important part of both groups. The National Museum of African American History and Culture doesn’t ignore the Afro-Latino experience. Check out a few ways they’re being included in African-American history below: