The long and winding history of the new Smithsonian black history museum

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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 01: The soon-to-be-opened Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture is seen September 1, 2016 in Washingotn, DC. The museum was established by Act of Congress in 2003. It is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. A dedication ceremony will be held to mark the grand opening of the museum on September 24. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 01:  The soon-to-be-opened Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture is seen September 1, 2016 in Washingotn, DC. The museum was established by Act of Congress in 2003. It is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. A dedication ceremony will be held to mark the grand opening of the museum on September 24.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture as seen on Sept. 1, 2016 in Washingotn, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Thousands of people from all over the country, including many Georgians and yes, Oprah Winfrey, will gather on the National Mall this morning to watch as President Barack Obama formally dedicates the new National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The mood here may be celebratory and reflective, but the history behind the Smithsonian Institution’s 19th museum is anything but short or breezy.

Atlanta Congressman John Lewis, who is slated to speak at the grand opening this morning, is a reminder of that. It took the longtime lawmaker and civil rights icon more than 15 years of wrangling on Capitol Hill to get members of Congress to greenlight the museum.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for a memorial that traces its roots back to 1916.

Read up on the history of the museum here and its many Southern exhibits here before the festivities begin at 9 a.m.

Read more of our museum coverage: 

Another historic crusade for John Lewis 

Journey to history: Atlantans to go to Washington for museum opening

Morehouse another Atlanta link to new Smithsonian black museum

John Lewis will donate Civil Rights mementos to new African American history museum


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