U.S. President Donald Trump visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington on Tuesday, calling it “a beautiful tribute to so many American heroes.”
The new president read the names of several prominent black figures from American history, saying, “I'm deeply proud that we now have a museum that honors the millions of African American men and women who built our national heritage, especially when it comes to faith, culture and the unbreakable American spirit."
He pledged “to do everything I can to continue that promise of freedom for African Americans and for every American. So important, nothing more important.” His visit came as the U.S. celebrates its annual Black History Month during February.
Trump said the fight for racial equality in the United States depicted at the museum “is a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms.” He condemned recent threats against Jewish centers in the U.S., calling them “horrible and painful.”
But he promised, as he has numerous occasions, “We’re going to bring this country together, maybe bring some of the world together.”
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The museum, on the National Mall not far from the White House, opened last year and has drawn large crowds and wide critical acclaim. It has nearly 37,000 objects in its collection tracing the history of blacks in America, from their arrival on slave ships from Africa, to the mid-19th century Civil War fought over slavery, to the advances toward racial equality at the heart of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
There are exhibits about black communities, their families, the visual and performing arts, religion, civil rights, slavery, and legalized racial segregation that existed in the United States as recently as 50 years ago.
In his upset presidential election victory last November, Trump won just 8 percent of the black vote compared to 88 percent for his Democratic rival, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Trump was accompanied on his museum visit by the only African-American in his Cabinet, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who is awaiting confirmation as the president’s housing chief. The president promised to work closely with Carson to “do great things in our African-American communities together.”