David Denny

On October 7 I received a ticket to attend the African American museum! I went with another vendor and contributing writer Scott Lovell and also the editor-in-chief of Street Sense, Eric Falquero. I have so much respect for this man and I consider it an honor to attend this special occasion with him.

We walked from the Street Sense office to the site. When we reached the museum there were different groups, crowds, and lines waiting to get in. The atmosphere was filled with a sense of pride and wonderment for what’s coming ahead.  When we entered the building, the first thing I did was collapse from exhaustion! The walk from the office and all of the excitement had taken so much out of me. I took a ten-minute rest and was as good as new.

The first thing that struck me was this sign: “THIS BUILDING WILL SING FOR ALL OF US.”  I got this eerie but satisfying feeling. I could almost imagine the chants of buffalo soldiers, freedom riders, Emmett Till, MLK…etc.  Their sacrifices and accomplishments are palpable and it makes me shiver.

It took three hours to tour the three concourse levels in the basement of the museum which spanned the eras of:  Slavery and Freedom, Segregation, and A Changing America.

When I saw the display of crudely made shackles hammered into place around slave ankles and the branding irons they used to brand us with; it saddened me to view the sadistic cruelty of our past.

But for me, the most riveting display was that of Emmett Till.  I viewed the actual footage of his relatives telling the ghastly story of his demise and the horrid pain coming from their voices is numbing.  They also had Emmett Till’s restored casket on display.  Vicariously, I felt I was there during his actual funeral.  But the warmth I felt on my face were real tears…

I’ve signed up to return to the museum with a larger group of Street Sense vendors and artists this month – to be continued.