Also, see a related interview by Anita Little at Religious Dispatch on Religion and Resistance. She speaks with the DC curator of the Center for the Study of African American Religion, Rev. Yolanda Pierce. That new center is housed in the NMAAHC. My favorite part of the interview is here–all this lovely stuff about the ancestors and symbolism–when Rev. Pierce discusses President Obama’s part in ringing a 500-pound church bell. This is fascinating to see this wonderful treasure open:
As a gesture, as a symbol, it is so powerful. The bell is tangible, it’s this huge thing that’s traveled to the seat of power, Washington, D.C. It came from this community of enslaved people who could have never imagined in their lifetime an African American president or an African American museum in our nation’s capital. It’s no small thing, we are at the evening of President Obama’s presidency.
A lot of the people coming on opening day are coming partially to say goodbye to President Obama in what will be one of his last public acts as president.
For me personally, it makes me think of the spirits of the ancestors, all the men and women who never lived to see this moment, all of our ancestors who died en route to the United States and whose bones now litter the Atlantic Ocean. The resounding clang of that bell as it reaches the heavens will remind me of those who could not be present.
The RD piece is here.