Below are Mayor Muriel Bowser’s remarks from the Dedication Ceremony of the National Museum of African American History and Culture as delivered on September 24, 2016.
Good morning, everyone.
I’m Muriel Bowser, the Mayor of Washington, DC and I am humbled to welcome you all to my hometown on this historic day
With my Mom looking on, I stand before you humbled, and I know that I stand here on the shoulders of a great and proud people.
Not just today but every day, we walk in the footsteps of the strong, proud and brave black women and men who blazed a trail and who now and forever more have a place to call their own on this National Mall in this National Museum of African American History and Culture.
You can look in any direction on this National Mall and you will realize we stand where strong, proud & brave black men captivated a nation. This is where:
- Martin made his dream our destiny,
- Louis challenged one million men to make their families and communities strong, and
- Where Barack delivered on a promise of change we can believe in.
But you see: I would not be here today – and you would not be here – if it were not for countless strong, proud and brave black women.
Just in my lifetime we have seen trailblazers like:
- Shirley Chisholm who taught us that, as she said, “tremendous amounts of talent are lost to our society just because that talent wears a skirt.”
- Dorothy Height the National Council of Negro Women would not be trumped and claimed their spot on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol, more than two decades ago.
- And our Oprah Winfrey who is the first black woman that some Americans accepted into their living rooms and she taught our nation that American excellence is not limited to one’s race or gender
So today, on behalf of the 672,000 residents, I ask you to also think about us as you walk through these hallowed halls—you’ll hear our own Chuck Brown and his go-go swing; you’ll learn about DC’s slave history
While we are proud to host this museum that shows how far we have come as Americans, it also shows how far Washingtonians still have to go.
672,000 Americans live in the shadows of the Capitol. However, we won’t fully manifest our destiny until we are the 51st state and have a voice and a vote in both of the houses of our Congress.
Together, and only together, we can right this wrong by making our Union more perfect and we will when we become the 51st state.
Please enjoy your visit to my hometown, embrace the richness of our neighborhoods from historic Anacostia where Frederick Douglass made his home to U Street where Duke Ellington had his roots.
Come back often to visit this National Museum of African American History and Culture and celebrate how far we have come together.
May God continue to bless you, the District of Columbia and the United States of America.