I suppose my children should consider themselves lucky that their parentals hail from locations that are popular tourist attractions. Their father from Miami, myself from Washington D.C. Since we visited Miami earlier in the summer to spend time with my husband’s family I thought it only right when the opportunity presented itself to take a quick trip to D.C. to visit my family.
Our first tourist stop was the African American History and Culture Museum. I have received so many questions about our experience there that I am going to attempt to answer them here in this post or direct you to a place on the web that can offer more insight if you are planning to visit. Mingled in with the pertinent information I will share my thoughts and feelings as well as photos of items and words that struck a chord, good or bad with me during our visit. I think everyone who has a desire to understand the plight of African Americans should visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture at least once in their lifetime.
How to Get Tickets
I truly believe favor isn’t always fair. Much like my anticipation of standing in a long line to get into Magnolia Market in Waco when instead we were able to walk right in, such was our experience at the AAHC. We walked up to the entrance to ask where to go for standby tickets. Had a little chat with the attendant and she kindly told us to walk right in. We are so thankful for her generosity but seeing how that was a one in a million chance here is the proper protocol for entrance.
*If you are aware of your travel dates ahead of time go online here to reserve your tickets. Please note these advance timed passes are released monthly. The next release is scheduled for August 2 for visits that will occur in November.
*If you are planning an impromptu trip there are a number of same day tickets released daily at 6:30a. You will have to login at that time to try and reserve. We tried this option at 6:30 and did not get any. Be online early and ready to hit the button at 6:30 if you want a chance!
*If you are visiting during the week, in addition to the same day tickets you can also try your hand at a walk up ticket. Walk up tickets are handed out starting at 1p WEEKDAYS ONLY. Get there early if you are thinking about this route. The line was long at 12p when we got there.
How Much Time Will You Need
One day will not be enough. Prior to going I heard people say this and was sure we would be the exception.
We were not.
The information is vast and your desire to see everything will require you to visit at least 3 times. Unless you live in the area, you will not have that luxury so expect to spend at least 5 hours there to get a good glimpse at a good amount of the material. I suppose once the Summer is over you may have a better chance of getting it all in in less time, even then I still think at least 2 full days would be needed.
With the sheer amount of people present you will not be able to read everything, instead I took photos of names, events and locations that I wanted to learn more about. I have since compiled a list that we as a family will use to do our own personal research.
Is It Child Appropriate
I thought the exhibits were very interactive and very much child appropriate in their presentation. My daughter had tons of questions, and although we have discussed slavery and some of the tougher issues regarding segregation etc. in depth, I think seeing the artifacts and photos really put things into perspective for her. If you have not exposed your children to some of the more raw and harder subjects surrounding African American history you may want to give it an overview before going and talk them through the exhibits in language that is age appropriate or at their level of understanding.
Is It Really Crowded
Yes! The first two floors were very crowded and a bit irritating as you try to maneuver around people. Around the middle of the 2nd floor the crowd thins out a bit. We went on a weekday, so I can’t really speak for the weekends but I imagine the way the exhibits are set up the further along you move the crowd thins out as people begin to move at their own pace.
Random Thoughts and Reactions
Overall the exhibits were well thought out and effectively shared the chronological progression of African Americans through slavery, emancipation, segregation, religion, music, theater, sports television, you name it, they covered it in the most interactive and thought provoking way. On a trek to the restroom I observed an elderly white lady in a wheelchair sobbing as she read an excerpt on the first floor. I didn’t know her story, and as I started to speculate on her past I didn’t. The enormity of what has happened and continues to happen in this country to people of color should bring tears to the eyes of more people. The exhibits here were raw and real, and I commend the manner in which they were presented. There is no need in sugar coating the plight of African Americans in this country. A journey that has been filled with hate, struggle, hope and success, a journey that unfortunately is rearing itself to be cyclical through systematic racism and hate. I left with feelings of grief, confusion and accomplishment.
I left feeling that only a select group of people can be torn and ripped from their families, deprived of simple human rights, and yet somehow make a way out of no way blazing trails in every aspect of human imagination. It made me want to do more and be better and educate my children more on our history and not text book history. I’m still processing a lot of it but one thing is for sure…..
I HAVE NEVER BEEN PROUDER TO BLACK IN AMERICA.
If you have the opportunity to visit, please do.