Weekly Address: President Obama – Celebrating the National Museum of African American History and Culture

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, President Obama commemorated the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The President recognized the museum for celebrating the many accomplishments of the African American community – and for telling the fuller story of America by facing the uncomfortable truths of our Nation’s history all while embracing the knowledge that America is a constant work in progress. The National Museum of African American History and Culture not only tells the African American story – it tells the American story. By telling the fuller account of the American story, the President said, the museum will give all of us a chance to reflect and set the course for generations to come.

Transcript: Weekly Address: Celebrating the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Remarks of President Barack Obama as Delivered
Weekly Address, The White House, September 24, 2016

Hi everybody. This weekend, we’ll dedicate the newest American icon on our National Mall – the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It’s a beautiful building, five stories high and some 70 feet below the ground, situated just across the street from the Washington Monument.

And this museum tells a story of America that hasn’t always taken a front seat in our national narrative. As a people, we’ve rightfully passed on the tales of the giants who built this country. But too often, willful or not, we’ve chosen to gloss over or ignore entirely the experience of millions upon millions of others.

But this museum chooses to tell a fuller story. It’s doesn’t gauze up some bygone era or avoid uncomfortable truths. Rather, it embraces the patriotic recognition that America is a constant work in progress; that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is within our collective power to align this nation with the high ideals of our founding.

That’s what you’ll see inside. You’ll see it in the shackles of an enslaved child and in the hope of Harriet Tubman’s gospel hymnal. You’ll see it in the tragedy of Emmett Till’s coffin and in the resilience of a lunch counter stool and in the triumph of a Tuskegee Airplane. You’ll see it in the shadow of a prison guard tower and in the defiance of Jesse Owens’ cleats and in the American pride of Colin Powell’s uniform.

All of that isn’t simply the African-American story; it’s part of the American story. And so it is entirely fitting that we tell this story on our National Mall, the same place we tell the stories of Washington and Jefferson and our independence; the story of Lincoln who saved our union and the GIs who defended it; the story of King who summoned us all toward the mountaintop.

That’s what we’ll celebrate not just this weekend, but in the years and generations ahead – a fuller account of our glorious American story. It’s a chance to reflect on our past and set a course for the future. Because here in this country, all of us, no matter what our station in life, have the chance to pick up the pen, and write our own chapter for our time.

Thanks everybody, and have a great weekend.

Bolding added.




  1. President Obama:

    All of that isn’t simply the African-American story; it’s part of the American story. And so it is entirely fitting that we tell this story on our National Mall, the same place we tell the stories of Washington and Jefferson and our independence; the story of Lincoln who saved our union and the GIs who defended it; the story of King who summoned us all toward the mountaintop.

    And where the story of Barack Obama, son of Africa and America – and the first Black president of the United States – will be told. What a story that is!

    • Thank you for this post, Jan, it’s beautiful.

      And it’s about time the role of African-Americans in our history was acknowledged! I’ll see to it that my grandchildren know all about it as they grow up. I was never told anything.

  2. The Moose News Network will put links to the live coverage of the opening of the new museum in a separate post. This will still be the weekly Open News Thread.

  3. Yesterday evening, the President and First Lady hosted a reception at the White House to honor those whose work contributed to the building of the NMAAHC.

    Transcript: Remarks by the President at Reception in Honor of the National Museum of African American History and Culture

    President Obama:

    We’re here just to acknowledge what an extraordinary achievement has been accomplished by Mr. Lonnie Bunch — (applause) — and everybody who helped make this day possible.

    Now, I want to just talk about Lonnie for a second. When Lonnie first came here from Chicago to start work on this museum a decade ago, he could not even find somebody to give him a key to his office. (Laughter.) Nobody had heard of this museum. And now you cannot miss it — a breathtaking new building right in the heart of the National Mall. And that is what we call progress. It could not have been done without the persistence, the wisdom, the dedication, the savvy, the ability to make people feel guilty — (laughter) — the begging, the deal-making, and just the general street smarts of Lonnie and his entire team. So please give him a big round of applause for all the work that he has done. (Applause.)

    But, of course, this is also about more than Lonnie. This is about people who, for more than a century, advocated and organized, and raised funds, and donated artifacts so that the story of the African American experience could take its rightful place in our national memory. It’s a story that is full of tragedy and setbacks, but also great joy and great victories. And it is a story that is not just part of the past, but it is alive and well today in every corner of America. And that’s certainly true today in this house — a house that was built by slaves. […]

    the thing about this museum is that it’s more about — it’s more than just telling stories about the famous. It’s not just about the icons. There’s plenty of space for Harriet Tubman and Dr. King and Muhammed Ali. But what makes the museum so powerful and so visceral is that it’s the story of all of us — the folks whose names you never heard of, but whose contributions, day after day, decade after decade, combined to push us forward and the entire nation forward.

    It’s the maids who decided, you know what, I’m tired of segregation and I’m going to walk for my freedom. It’s the porters who not only worked tirelessly to support their families, but ultimately helped bring about the organization that led to better working conditions for all Americans here in the United States. It’s about our moms and grandparents and uncles and aunts who just did the right thing and raised great families, despite assaults on their dignity on every single day. […]

    the point is that all of us cannot forget that the only reason that we’re standing here is because somebody, somewhere stood up for us. Stood up when it was risky. Stood up when it was not popular. And somehow, standing up together, managed to change the world.

    On the tie in to current events:

    You know, the timing of this is fascinating. (Applause.) Because in so many ways, it is the best of times, but in many ways these are also troubled times. History doesn’t always move in a straight line. And without vigilance, we can go backwards as well as forwards.

    And so part of the reason that I am so happy the museum is opening this weekend is because it allows all of us as Americans to put our current circumstances in a historical context. My hope is that, as people are seeing what’s happened in Tulsa or Charlotte on television, and perhaps are less familiar with not only the history of the African American experience but also how recent some of these challenges have been, upon visiting the museum, may step back and say, I understand. I sympathize. I empathize. I can see why folks might feel angry and I want to be part of the solution as opposed to resisting change.

    My hope is that black folks watching the same images on television, and then seeing the history represented at this museum, can say to themselves, the struggles we’re going through today are connected to the past, and yet, all that progress we’ve made tells me that I cannot and will not sink into despair, because if we join hands, and we do things right, if we maintain our dignity, and we continue to appeal to the better angels of this nation, progress will be made.

    “History doesn’t always move in a straight line.” That is important to remember for all of us who are still fighting for our causes, causes we thought were resolved like voting rights and reproductive rights and health care and human rights. We need to keep moving forward in the hopes that, despite the meandering course, we can achieve our goals.

      • I wonder if he is using history to mean “progress”. Time certainly marches in a line but perhaps what he means is that progress is made and stalled and sometimes achieved in a roundabout way.

  4. In the News: The biggest thing a president’s ever done on climate is in the hands of 10 judges

    The Obama administration’s biggest action to cut carbon emissions from the power sector will get its biggest test next Tuesday when the full en banc D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals hears West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency. The case will decide whether the EPA violated the law when it finalized its carbon rule — the Clean Power Plan — to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector under the Clean Air Act.

    This is a significant case, and the D.C. Circuit took the somewhat unprecedented step of having the full court (that’s what en banc means) hear the case instead of the court’s normal three-judge panel — previously scheduled for a hearing last June. This signifies both how important the case is to the court, and that decisiveness could prove elusive in a 4–4 Supreme Court following the death of Antonin Scalia, leaving the D.C. Circuit as potentially the ultimate deciding body.

  5. In the News: Wisconsin citizens might get some justice from SCOTUS

    The eight Supreme Court justices will return from their summer vacations Monday to consider a backlog of petitions asking the Court to review a pile of cases. One of these cases, Chisholm v. Two Unnamed Petitioners, asks whether conservative justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court violated the Constitution by failing to recuse from a criminal investigation targeting groups that spent millions of dollars to get them elected.

    The case arises out of a campaign finance investigation into whether Gov. Scott Walker and other legislators illegally “coordinated” their campaigns with outside groups, some of which could accept unlimited, secret donations. Newly leaked documents suggest close ties between these groups and the Wisconsin governor’s campaign. They also suggest similar ties between the groups and a recently retired member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

    Prosecutors suspect that two Wisconsin justices who heard the case involving the Walker investigation, now-retired Justice David Prosser and current Justice Michael Gableman, may have committed the same offense that is at the heart of the Walker case by coordinating their own campaigns with the same groups. Nevertheless, Prosser and Gableman refused to sit out the case, and they later voted to shut down the Walker investigation in July 2015.

    Prosser retired rather than face the music but Gableman is the next justice due to face the voters.

    Lots of people are watching this, “Why the Supreme Court Should Take On Political Corruption in Wisconsin”; maybe the District Attorneys will be allowed to continue the investigation and dark money cheaters can be brought to justice.

  6. In the News: Congress can’t agree on a continuing resolution

    Congress had just one thing to do this month before it left town for its October recess. That was to keep the government funded past Sept. 30. But with just under one week left on what was supposed to be a straightforward task, there’s still no deal in sight. […]

    Reid and Democrats in both chambers say the latest offer by Republicans is a no-go. So far, the only things both sides can agree on are: keeping the government open through December 9, and providing emergency aid to fight Zika without restricting funds for Planned Parenthood.

    It was progress, but the latest Republican proposal also contains flood aid for Louisiana and other states – without providing any aid for the water contamination crisis in Flint, Mich. Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York says that is unacceptable.

    Paul Ryan does not have the votes in his caucus to pass the CR and will rely on Democratic votes. He won’t get them especially with the White House signalling that President Obama may veto a CR without aid for Flint and if it includes a poison pill on campaign finance transparency.

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