untrained eye. This is an idea whose time has come.”
Lewis continued: “Today we must thank the White House and the U.S. Congress, my former colleagues Gov. Sam Brownback, Sen. Max Cleland, and Congressman J.C. Watts, the Smithsonian Board of Regents, the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution Wayne Clough, the director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture Lonnie Bunch and his entire staff, the distinguished advisory councils of celebrities and scholars, and the generous corporate and individual donors who have taken a dream deferred and helped it find its place in history.
“This is an end, but it is also a beginning. There is still much more work to do, and as we pursue this worthy goal sent to us down through the ages, we must not shrink. We must call on the courage of those who were in this struggle long before any of us were even born. We must tell the whole, 400-year story of the African-American contribution to this nation’s history, from slavery to the present, without anger or apology.
“The problems we face today as a nation make it plain that there is still a great deal of pain that needs to be healed.
“The stories told in this building can speak the truth that has the power to set an entire nation free and reveal the boldest lessons of liberty, justice and true democracy to us all. I look forward to the day when I can amble through the exhibits, search through the archives, participate in the programs, rest my tired feet in the café and get lost in history inside the granite walls of an idea whose time has finally come,” concluded Lewis.