The Freedom Bell will ring during the opening of the African-American History Museum. Barack Obama and George W. Bush will be present for the historic moment.
On September 24, the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African-American History and Culture will open its doors to the public in Washington, D.C.
The 500-pound bell, which is widely known as the Freedom Bell and was purchased by the First Baptist Church in Williamsburg, Virginia in the 1880s, will play a central part at the event.
The once-secret church was attended by freed and owned slaves, who wanted to worship and sing as their hearts desired. Historians believe that the First Baptist Church is the first church in America that was founded by black people for black people.
The Freedom Bell suffered significant damage over the years and was silenced for quite some time. First Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Dr. Reginald F. Davis said:
“Over time it fell into disrepair and went unrung for decades. It didn’t even ring during the Civil Rights Movement.”
However, in 2015, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation collaborated with the church to restore the historic bell. In February 2016, the fully restored bell rang for the first time in decades with some help from descendants of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings.
Since then, an extensive list of people including civil rights leaders, politicians, activists, and celebrities have made the bell ring.
A few weeks ago, officials at the National Museum of African American History and Culture contacted the First Baptist Church and asked for the Freedom Bell to be used at the opening ceremony. The leaders of the church were thrilled to receive the request.
Instead of having Obama cut a ribbon, he will ring the bell – that moment will be reminiscent of 1863 when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and church bells rang all across this great country as the news spread.
Former President Bush will be at the ceremony, and it is not known if he will deliver a speech. The Freedom Bell will be on display at the National Museum of African American. Davis, who is looking forward to the inauguration, added:
“That it will ring on such a day in the presence of our nation’s first African-American president, is a glorious advent that we could not have shared in our prayers or imagined in our wildest dreams.”
Colonial Williamsburg President and CEO Mitchell B. Reiss also issued a statement:
“For 90 years Colonial Williamsburg has interpreted history, but together with First Baptist Church we’ve made history. First Baptist’s is a crucial American story that parallels our entire nation’s. The Freedom Bell embodies both our shared history and our nation’s founding values as we work toward ‘a more perfect union.’”
Davis concluded by saying that he prays that the opening of the African-American History and Culture Museum, the presence of the Freedom Bell, and having two presidents, a Democrat and a Republican all united will offer some glimmer of hope for this nation that is being torn apart by race-related issues. Davis said:
“Abraham Lincoln said we cannot survive half slaves and half free; the division has to be bridged. Our effort is to bridge this divide, hoping to bring racial healing to this country and get things back on track, where we can all claim we are one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Many commenters are applauding Bush and Obama for taking part in this ceremony. Moreover, these same people say that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump should be in attendance. They have important roles to play in healing the racial divide in America.