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PHOTO ESSAY

African Americans and Washington DC

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National Museum of African American History and Culture

The National Museum of African American History and Culture, under construction in November 2014. Deborah Willis/AASC

In November 2014, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, part of the Smithsonian Institution, was under construction on Constitution Avenue and 14th Street, N.W. The photograph shows the museum in stages of development. The mission of the museum is to document, visualize, interpret, and celebrate African American history and culture by giving a visual experience to a broader American story—a story of hope and resiliency, struggle and pain, success and triumph. In 2016, the museum will provide exhibitions and resources for visitors and scholars. This idea—preserving African American history at the national level—continues from an earlier effort. During the last half of the nineteenth century, a time of pervasive racial discrimination in America, black communities established their own cultural centers, businesses, churches, news organizations, schools, and towns. Black business and religious leaders, orators, teachers, writers, artists, and scholars gained national attention by resisting negative depictions and the systematic denial of their civil rights and fighting for equality.

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