It’s early evening and I’m sat in The House Of Lords at The Palace of Westminster for dinner in The Cholmondeley Room. The Journalist and I are here by invite of Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey to honour Lonnie Bunch, Director of National Museum of African American History and Culture. He is managing the NMAAHC at The Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. It’s an honour to hear him speak.
“The other side of the coin of remembering is to recognise that this museum must use African American culture as a lense to understand what it is to be an American”
Outside the Thames claps gently against the walls of the House of Lords. I could reach from my table across the wall and touch it. A Museum is a living a time machine collapsing the gap between past and present, between ancestor and family, between nation story and citizen. Anyone who enters is a time traveller.
“We are now on budget and on target we will open this building November 18 2015. We have raised over 125 million of private support and almost 200 million of support from the federal government”
To hear Lonnie Bunch speak is to see the pride of The African-American and all Americans. We Black British could draw lessons from this. As the night comes to a close the Thames flows while Lonnie graciously takes his applause I think of the African-American who enriched the experience of all Americans, Langston Hughes, and his poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”
I have known rivers
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
Flow of human blood in human veins”