Our Emotional Journey To The African-American History Museum

Story by Caitlyn Bullock. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images. Edited by Mikayla Decker

On October 11, 2016, all the 5th graders from Friendship Southeast Academy went to the African American Museum of History and Culture in Washington D.C. The museum was established by an Act of Congress in 2003. When we all walked in the museum we walked over to a big sign that says “OUR DONORS” Oprah Winfrey was one of the top donors. Different groups went to different floors. My group went to the ground floor. On the ground floor we had to stand in a line to get to the other side so we could see the slavery exhibit. When you get to the slavery exhibit, there is a whole lot of space so you won’t be so bunched up while you walk around. There were different paths in the room. I saw an exhibit that showed where the slaves were sold and what they had to stand on.

Next, I saw an exhibit about African American singers and rappers. They did not have enough space to put any of the new African-American artists because the history of African Americans took up most of the space and they couldn’t add another floor. I saw an exhibit on Chuck Brown and more. I saw different artists’ clothes for their performance. They did have some modern talents like Yolanda Adams and Alicia Keys. We saw many different kinds of sororities on the third story. And they let everybody do the steps from the team, Step Afrika. On the fourth story they had displays of musicians in the back of the room. They had all the records of the musicians and what genre they were in, including a hip-hop area, a gospel area and more. The museum was like a library filled up with books. It was crowded.  There was a line to see the slavery and segregation exhibits.  One exhibit we saw was about the time when African Americans went to restaurants and the white people poured drinks on them and beat them. Some fought back but they got arrested. But the whites didn’t get arrested like us. Many times we were almost beat to death.

Another exhibit showed that the clothes slaves wore were made out of the cotton that they picked. I interviewed Aaliah, a fourth grader in Mr. Chisholm’s class. Mr. Chisholm took his fourth graders there so I asked Aaliyah  how she felt when she came back from the museum. She told me she felt sad and a little glad because she learned about her history. And she was sad because she saw what whites did to us back then.

Caitlyn Bullock and Mikayla Decker are 5th grade students at Friendship Southeast Academy.