First off, I want to give a major shout-out to the Christian Divas at the Epworth United Methodist Church in the Bronx, New York. My wife is a part of this group/church and they’re the ones who organized the trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.. Now, before I continue, let me make a public service announcement: everyone needs to go to this museum, man! It truly is a rich and detailed history of the Black experience in America. Meaning, it wholly documents the good, the bad, the ugly, the super ugly and the egregiously ugly. With that being said, I just want to talk about my day at the museum. Let’s go!
To begin, our group started from the building’s lower levels and worked our way to the top floor. The History Galleries occupy the bottom three floors and they tell our history from the 15th century until today. Now, I won’t lie, son. Walking through these exhibits can be very taxing on the soul. It’s incredibly infuriating to see how we were kings and queens, willfully trading goods with Europe, and ended up being the merchandise ourselves.
On the real, seeing actual chains, illustrations of how we were packed onto ships and quotes from some of our callous captors can be an absolute mind-fuck, son. In addition, seeing things like real slave auction blocks, Nat Turner’s Bible and authentic cowskin whips can leave the strongest people feeling deflated. However; looking at Emmett Till’s casket nearly did me in, man. For the life of me, I will NEVER understand how anyone could do that to a 14-year-old boy. So, for that, Carolyn Bryant Donham can burn in the deepest depths of Hell. Recanting her story does NOTHING to bring that boy back, man.
Moving on, walking through gallery after gallery started to take a toll on me. Seeing my people go from slavery to segregation to the prison industrial complex can be extremely heavy on the heart. With that being said, thank the Lord for the Community and Culture Galleries on the upper floors, son! Being the musician I am, I immediately found myself in the music section. How could I not be happy after taking pictures of J Dilla’s MPC, Funkadelic’s Mothership and Chuck Berry’s red Cadillac? Side note, Rest In Peace to Chuck Berry, man. Fuck what anyone else says, THAT MAN invented Rock & Roll, son! No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Anyway, walking through these galleries was exactly what I needed after the History Galleries.
In the end, I really enjoyed my time there. It was dope to bring my oldest son and watch him learn. I mean, it would be hard for him to grasp everything so soon, but I definitely wanted him to start learning about history. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what ethnicity anyone is. Everyone needs to visit this museum, man. Well done, Smithsonian. Well done indeed. LC out.
P.S. Shout-out to singer-songwriter Kendra Foster. I ran into her at the museum and she was awesome to talk to. Outside of her dope self-titled debut album, she also helped D’Angelo write the lyrics to most of Black Messiah. Now, anyone who knows me knows how much of a D’Angelo stan I am. In any case, she’s awesome. That is all.