The historic Smithsonian National African-American History Museum has received its first arrivals that will be on display for all to see at its grand opening in 2015.
First to arrive is a segregated Southern Railway car from the Pullman company, which existed in the 1920’s. The car holds original signs that read ‘Colored’ or ‘White’ signifying the Jim Crow laws of the system. Serving routes of the South, the 80-ton car had to be transferred into the museum before its completion because of its size. The railway cars provided jobs for the men of the first black union in America: The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.
Among the other items is a guard tower from the Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola. The Angola prison was notorious for the mistreatment of criminals and leasing out convicts for labor to citizens. There was a significant amount of black men imprisoned at Angola, including an established group of the Black Panther Party, formed inside in the 1970’s.
The museum has already collected several items for its collection that will arrive prior to its opening. Some include: Two ten-feet wide neon “Soul Train” signs and a Soul Train Music Awards sign used during the 2006 and 2007 awards show, the original casket of Emmett Till, the plane flown by Tuskegee Airmen or Harriet Tubman’s shawl.
(AP Photo: The shawl of Harriet Tubman is shown.)