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Obama inaugurates African-American museum amid prevailing racial tensions

Obama said the museum will help people understand the 'pain and anger of demonstrators and places like Ferguson and Charlotte.' Photograph: (AFP)

WION Washington, DC, United States Sep 25, 2016, 08.39 AM (IST)
Amid prevailing tensions in the United States over killing of African-American nationals, President Barack Obama on Saturday inaugurated the National Museum of African American History and Culture. 

The museum was inaugurated by Obama and wife Michelle, along with four generations of an African American family by ringing a bell from a historic black church, AFP reported. 

It is located on the National Mall and features relics that trace the history of African Americans--from slavery to their emancipation. 

In his opening speech, Obama said: "African-American history is not somehow separate from our larger American story. It's not the underside of the American story." "It is central to the American story," Reuters quoted him saying. 

"A clear-eyed view of history can make us uncomfortable," Obama said.

"It is precisely of that discomfort that we learn and grow and harness our collective power to make this nation more perfect. That's the American story that this museum tells," he added. 

Rising racial tensions
The opening of the museum comes at a crucial junction with rising cases of violence against African-Americans in the US.

Terence Crutcher, 40, was killed last week by a white police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The police officer was charged for manslaughter on Thursday. 

The second incident happened in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Keith Scott was killed by the police. Following the killing, violent protests broke out in the southern US city.  

Meanwhile, the newly-inaugurated museum will highlight the issues and struggles African-Americans face. 

"Perhaps, it can help a white visitor understand the pain and anger of demonstrators and places like Ferguson and Charlotte," Obama said. 

"It can also help black visitors appreciate the fact that not only is this younger generation carrying on traditions of the past, but within the white communities, across the nation, we see the sincerity of law enforcement officers and officials who, in fits and starts, are struggling to understand."

Karmello Colman, a visitor from Kansas told Reuters: "I feel honoured because it is highlighting the accomplishments of my ancestors, who were probably slaves, and those of so many others."

About $450 million was spent on the construction, half of the money came from private donations, according to Reuters. 

Prominent visitors included George W Bush with wife Laura, Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Oprah Winfrey and Will Smith.

(WION with inputs from agencies)




 
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