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National Museum of African American History and Culture: A People’s Journey

This post is not book related in any way, but I really want to expand my blog to include more…more of who am I as a whole and more of my personal experiences!

On Wednesday, Sept. 14, I had the opportunity to attend the media preview day at the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).

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Photo credit: Anne Thomas

Just walking up the museum was an exciting experience and a total photo op. The building’s exterior is made from bronze-colored “Corona” panels. Isn’t it beautiful? Oh hey, Washington Monument!

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The National Museum of African American History and Culture Architectural photos by Alan Karchmer

The NMAAHC is the ONLY national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It has taken a century to build this museum. A century!


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The National Museum of African American History and Culture Architectural photos by Alan Karchmer

The museum’s 12 inaugural exhibitions are grouped around three main themes: history, community, and culture. The exhibitions include:

  • History Galleries
    • A Century in the Making
    • Slavery and Freedom
    • Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: Era of Segregation 1876-1968
    • A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond
  • Community Galleries
    • Power of Place
    • Making a Way Out of No Way
    • Sports Gallery
    • Military History Gallery
  • Culture Galleries
    • Musical Crossroads
    • Cultural Expressions
    • Visual Arts Gallery
    • Taking the Stage

A lot of people asked me if I was moved by the museum. Overall, the answer is yes! We started our tour in the history galleries, which was the most moving of the exhibits for me. I really enjoyed my time at the museum. However, there was so much to see and experience, I needed a few more days to fully appreciate everything. We were trying to see everything in one day, and that was really hard to do. The museum has a lot of items on display. There is so much to take in, but be sure to check out these notable items:

Harriet Tubman’s Hymn Book, c. 1876 Gospel Hymns No. 2, by P. P. Bliss and Ira D. Sankey, Harriet Tubman’s personal book of hymns. Gift of Charles Blockson Credit: Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture


Objects From BFM Collection
Dress by Seamstress: Rosa Parks  – National Museum of African American History and Culture, Photographed for Washington Post Interview with Robin Givhan October 19, 2009.


Chuck Berry’s Cadillac, c. 1973 The car is part of Berry’s personal fleet of Cadillacs and was driven during the filming of Hail! Hail! Rock ’n’ Roll, a 1987 documentary that chronicles two 1986 concerts. Gift of Chuck Berry Credit: Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Nat Turner’s Bible, 1830s Bible owned by Nat Turner. Gift of Maurice A. Person and Noah and Brooke Porter Credit: Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

NMAAHC works in technology so well. It’s a seamless blend of artifacts, history, and technology. We had an opportunity to talk to a Smithsonian curator about the digital story board (pictured below).

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NMAAHC Digital Story Board – Photo credit: Anne Thomas

Visitors will have the opportunity to upload their photos and stories to the board online before visiting the museum. Once the photos and stories are approved, they will be upload to the story board! Pretty cool, right?

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NMAAHC Digital Story Board – Photo credit: Anne Thomas

The museum also has a restaurant, the Sweet Home Café, that showcases the rich culture and history of the African American people with traditional offerings and modern day foods. The Café is divided up into four regional stations and I’ve included some of the food offered at each station:

  • Agricultural South: Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Original Brunswick Stew
  • Creole Coast: Gulf Shrimp & Grits, Pan-fried Louisiana Catfish Po’boy
  • North States: “Smoking Hot” Caribbean-style Pepper Pot, New York City Oyster Pan Roast
  • Western Range: “Son of a Gun Stew,” Pan Roast Rainbow Trout

To mark the grand opening of the museum, there will be a three-day festival starting Friday, Sept. 23rd through Sunday, Sept. 25. The festival’s activities will include music and dance performances, spoken word, oral-history activities and two evening concerts. The museum officially opens tomorrow, Sept. 24th. If you want to follow along on social media, please follow these hashtags: #NMAAHC and #APeoplesJourney.

Thank you to my wonderful coworkers, Crystal, Darrell, and Tabresha, who invited me to attend the event with them. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity! We took a lot of photos, but I wanted to share some of my favorites below:

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NMAAHC – Photo credit: Anne Thomas
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Reverend Jesse Jackson attending the media preview day at the NMAAHC. Photo credit: Anne Thomas
NMAAHC – Photo credit: Anne Thomas
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Muhammad Ali – NMAAHC – Photo credit: Anne Thomas

The museum is a must visit, so if you get the opportunity, I highly encourage you to check it out!

Daily Deals

There are some great Kindle Daily Deals today (April 23rd)! Who doesn’t love a good book deal? If you wanted to read any of these books, now is  a good time to grab them!

  • The Martian by Andy Weir – $4.99
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – $4.99
  • Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, Book 1) by Pierce Brown – $1.99
  • Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert – $4.99
  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey – $2.99

Happy reading, friends!

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A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

A Spool of Blue Thread is about a middle-class American family living in Baltimore, Maryland. It all starts with Abby and Red Whitshank, who fall in love in July of 1959. The reader is taken through three generations of Whitshanks; and experiences their stories and secrets. 

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The book is wonderfully written, with an interesting story. The book was:

  • Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, 2015
  • Nominated for the 2015 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A National Bestseller

However, for me, it was just okay. I wasn’t wowed or amazed. While reading it, I could not relate to any of the characters. I found the story a little dull. But, it did open my eyes to the lives of a middle-class White family in the 60s. I finished it with a shrug and moved on to the next book on my TBR list.

Overall, I gave it 3 stars.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is about a web designer who loses his job. He applies to be the overnight clerk at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore. After a few days on the job, he discovers the store is not what it appears to be. The customers who visit make strange requests and never buy anything. Clay, the main character, uses his tech skills to figure out what the purpose of the bookstore is and what he finds does not disappoint!

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His sleuthing leads him to Google and to underground societies! I won’t say more because it will ruin the magic of the book.

This book is great as an audiobook because the narrator is excellent! I really enjoyed listening to it because there were some fun plot twists. The end was a bit tame for me. I was hoping for a more exciting ending. Overall, it’s a fun and light read. I rated it 4 stars.


The 5th Wave Series by Rick Yancey

Two book reviews in one post! I recently finished reading The 5th Wave and The Infinite Sea, books 1 and 2 in Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave series.

The 5th Wave (Book 1)
“How do you rid the Earth of humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.” 

  • The First Wave: Lights Out – an EMP wave takes out all electronics / lights / technology and kills half a million people.
  • The Second Wave: Surf’s Up – tsunamis kill over three billion people.
  • The Third Wave: Pestilence – using birds as carriers, the Others unleash a virus that kills 97 percent of the remaining survivors.
  • The Fourth Wave: Silencers – the remaining survivors try to survive and no one can tell who is human and who is not.
  • The Fifth Wave: The survivors wait for the fifth wave, unsure of what it will be or even if it will come.

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We meet Cassie Sullivan, who is all alone and running from the Others. Cassie is running from Silencers, which are Others who look human. They roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Cassie is determined to stay alone and search for her brother, who was taken by the Others. She thinks her best bet is stay alone, until she meets Evan Walker.

The book is told from several points of view. I liked the multiple perspectives because it gave me a better scope of the invasion. The book leaves you in suspense the entire time. I could not put this book down. You keep wondering who the Others are? Where do they come from? What do they want? So many questions.

The one complaint I have about the book is the romance. I was not interested at all, probably because it was so poorly done. Cassie’s character is weak and super annoying toward the end of the book. Just leave the romance out OR make it more interesting.

I haven’t seen the movie, but I really want to because it looks pretty good. Cassie is a redhead in the book, but they cast Chloe Grace Moretz for her part, which was disappointing. I always hope for diverse casting. If you’ve seen the movie, let me know if you liked it. If not, check out the trailer below:

The Infinite Sea (Book 2)
“Vincit qui patitur.”

Because I loved The 5th Wave so much, I picked up The Infinite Sea and read it right away. The Infinite Sea picks up shortly after the end of the first book. I won’t go into the summary because it will ruin the first book for you!

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It has the same format with multiple perspectives. The second book has a slow start, but steadily picks up and gives the reader an excellent cliffhanger. There are a lot of plot twists, which made the whole series that much more interesting. My annoyance with Cassie picked up in this book, but thankfully she is not as prominent in this book. However, she does get more annoying. I didn’t think it was possible.

The third book, The Last Star is slated for release in May. Ugh. I don’t want to wait! If you like sci-fi and fantasy, I would highly recommend this series.

There are plans to make the last two books in the series into movies. But, the first movie didn’t perform as well as they liked. We shall see!