(VIDEO) Lonny Bunch, the museum’s Founding Director, gives us a first look at some of the treasures that will be on display.
Below is the transcript of President Barack Obama delivering remarks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture site in Washington, D. C., Feb. 22, 2012.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Please, have a seat. Thank you very much. Well, good morning, everybody.
AUDIENCE: Good morning.
THE PRESIDENT: I want to thank France for that introduction and for her leadership at the Smithsonian. I want to thank everybody who helped to make this day happen. I want to thank Laura Bush; Secretary Salazar; Sam Brownback; my hero, Congressman John Lewis; Wayne Clough, and everybody who’s worked so hard to make this possible.
I am so proud of Lonnie Bunch, who came here from Chicago, I want to point out. (Laughter and applause.) I remember having a conversation with him about this job when he was planning to embark on this extraordinary journey. And we could not be prouder of the work that he has done to help make this day possible.
I promise to do my part by being brief.
As others have mentioned, this day has been a long time coming. The idea for a museum dedicated to African Americans was first put forward by black veterans of the Civil War. And years later, the call was picked up by members of the civil rights generation -– by men and women who knew how to fight for what was right and strive for what is just. This is their day. This is your day. It’s an honor to be here to see the fruit of your labor.