African American Museum opens in Seattle

AFTER NEARLY 30 YEARS of dreaming and planning, the Northwest African American Museum opened in Seattle’s Central District last weekend. The NAAM aims to share previously untold narratives about the area’s black culture and history, and will feature regional and national collections as well as those unique to the museum.

According to the Seattle P-I, the opening ceremony drew quite a hubbub, and was attended by such local big-wigs as Washington Governor Christine Gregoire and Senator Maria Cantwell. The event even drew…a protester?

Before the ceremony started, Seattle activist Kwame Omari Garrett crashed the stage to protest the lack of youth services in the building.

“This is a disgrace,” he said. “This is a scam.”

As the crowd booed Garrett, the son of Seattle activist Omari-Tahir Garrett, police escorted him from the stage … He was arrested on suspicion of obstruction and trespassing, police spokesman Jeff Kappel said.

A lack of social services seems like an odd issue to take up with the museum, especially when it’s come so far to educate on an underrepresented community. A specific gallery in the museum, the Journey Gallery, addresses what it means to be black in the Northwest — an important topic for local youth:

With the ceremony over, Burien resident Tiara Staley, 16, stood in a long line outside the museum entrance.

“I’m black,” she said. “I’ve never been to a museum other than the Museum of Flight. I want to learn something new besides what I’ve seen in textbooks.”

Check out a photoset of the opening ceremony here. The NAAM, at 2300 S. Massachusetts Street, is open on most days from 11 to 4. Admission for adults is $6.

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