Thursday, September 29, 2016

NMAAHC Inaugural Ceremony Live Streamed at the Musée Dapper

The U.S. Embassy and the Musée Dapper partnered to present the inaugural ceremony of the Smithsonian's newest museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

U.S. State Department representatives Randianina Peccoud and Sophie Nadeau welcomed invitees in the vestibule and directed us up to the auditorium. Scenes from the new museum greeted us upon entry - Angelique Kidjo on stage, views of the crowd queuing for admission and shots of those already having been admitted chatting and laughing.

Angelique Kidjo on live stream
© Discover Paris!

Aurélie Leveau, General Administrator of the museum, greeted the audience and briefly presented the museum and the current exhibition, Chefs-d'oeuvre.

Aurélie Leveau, Administrative Director of the Dapper Foundation
© Discover Paris!

She was followed by Philip Frayne, Minister of Cultural Affairs and Communications at the U.S. Embassy; who also spoke briefly and, in turn, introduced Daniel Yohannes, U.S. Ambassador to OECD.

Philip Frayne, U.S. Cultural Affairs and Communications Minister
© Discover Paris!

Ambassador Yohannes spoke for only a few minutes, sharing that he was born in Ethiopia and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 17. He expressed his pleasure that the museum is finally a reality and took his seat in the audience so we could all continue watching the ceremony.

Daniel Yohannes, U.S. Ambassador to OECD
© Discover Paris!

We were able to view the entire proceedings, including President Obama's entire address and the ringing of the Freedom Bell by the Bonner Family and President and First Lady Obama.

President Obama addresses the crowd
© Discover Paris!

Ringing the Freedom Bell
© Discover Paris!

Then, we were treated to a panel discussion moderated by Rokhaya Diallo, a French-Senegalese journalist, writer, award-winning filmmaker, and activist for racial, gender, and religious equality. The panel consisted of Raina Lampkins-Fielder, Artistic Director of the Mona Bismarck American Center for Art & Culture in Paris; Curtis Robert Young, Professor of Literature and historian; Doudou Diène, Chair of the Board of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, and Jake Lamar, award-winning novelist and playwright.

Panelists on stage
© Discover Paris!

All panelists expressed their sentiments about the discourse delivered by President Obama from a professional and / or personal perspective. Perhaps the most poignant of these was a personal statement by Lampkins-Fielder, who pointed out that her eight-year-old twins have only ever known a black president and that this is "normal" for them.

Moderator Rokhaya Diallo, left; panelists (top to bottom) -
Jake Lamar, Doudou Diène, Curtis Robert Young, and Raina Lampkins-Fielder
Images and collage © Discover Paris!

Because the hour was growing late, Sophie Nadeau invited us to retire to the lower level of the museum and take up the conversation about the inauguration and the panel discussion over wine and cheese. It was a spirited end to an historic day!

Chatting at the reception
© Discover Paris!

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