The “whites only” lunch counter that helped to spark the civil rights movement is on display for the reopening of the National Museum of American History in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008. Smithsonian staff member Maverick Parker works in the background, preparing the museum for the public when the doors open on Friday, Nov. 21.
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The National Museum of American History has reopened after a two-year, $85 million renovation.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell read President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address on Friday morning to a crowd of at least 200 people who had gathered on the museum’s steps before the doors opened.
Costumed historic characters portraying George and Martha Washington, among others, are on hand for a three-day festival to celebrate the reopening.
Inside, visitors found favorite exhibits such as Kermit the Frog and a gallery devoted to the American presidency.
A line quickly formed outside the Star-Spangled Banner gallery. The museum opened with the firing of a cannon from that era.
A side note, tonight is the last night for the 4 story light show on the NMAH building. It will be projected from 5 -10 pm.
More Virginia History-
Back in the 50’s and 60’s, the lunch counters at Miller & Rhoads and Thalhimers department stores in Richmond both were scenes of protest because of segregated lunch counters. For those of you who missed the lunch counter era of huge department stores, just hearing about it might seem meaningless.
Virginia managed to survive massive resistance and school closings in 4 different localities. To my knowledge, Virginia was never associated with the violence one thinks of during the days of desegregation. Perhaps Virginia is for lover and handles change well. Did we not just turn Virgina blue?
Further reading on Virginia’s Civil Rights history is more important than ever. In 1989 Virginia elected its first black governor since Reconstruction and on November 4, 2008, not only voted Democratic for the first time since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, but also voted Democratic for the first Black President of the United States.