President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama joined Laura Bush and others today to break ground for the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. The president delivered brief remarks that emotionally underscored the historical significance of this occasion.
"At moments like this I think about my daughters," Obama told the audience. "when our children look at Harriet Tubman's shawl or Nat Turner's bible or the plane flown by Tuskegee Airmen, I don't want them to be seen as figures somehow larger than life. I want them to see how ordinary Americans could do extraordinary things; how men and women just like them had the courage and determination to right a wrong, to make it right."
The image alone of the first black president and first lady at this moving ceremony truly put in perspective how we are living during an important time in our nation's history.
The groundbreaking not only honors Black History Month, it also marks a formalized effort to commemorate the African American experience in this country, including the ugly days of slavery and segregation.
Congress authorized its construction in 2003. Organizers have raised about $100 million and collected about 20,000 artifacts, so far. The museum is expected to open in 2015.