Everyone on Capitol Hill knows the Mary McLeod Bethune statue by Robert Berks in Lincoln Park – if only because of its use as a sledding hill during large snowstorms. Those who have taken the time to read the words of her “Last Will and Testament” around the base also can learn much about how she perceived learning as the most important aspect of a young person’s life. Her legacy looms much greater than what can be divined from the statue, however, and her house – near Logan Circle – is an excellent way to deepen your understanding.
Nonetheless, it is good to see that her contributions have not only not been forgotten in the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, but that they are also given considerable space. One whole room is devoted to her work, and particularly that which she did with the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), which she founded in 1935. Both Bethune and Dorothy Height, who was president of the NCNW after Bethune’s death, are honored here, with the NCNW being shown at the center of a large array of organizations aimed at helping African Americans in all aspects of their life.
Two pieces of clothing – a dress that Bethune wore, and a hat of Height’s – anchor the room, but the room as a whole recreates the meeting room that the NCNW used during the 1940s, down to the shelves, table, and carpet. You are invited to peruse the pamphlets on display, and give your own opinion using the provided materials.
The bad news is that the museum’s timed tickets for 2016 have been handed out already (though some same-day tickets are available starting at 9:15 AM each day) The good news is that the tickets for next year are due to be released on Monday, October 3 at 9:00 AM. So, check what dates you have free next year, and get over to this link here next Monday.