Trump trips over name of African-American museum

Former US president George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, being greeted by First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama at the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC. Mr Bush signed the law autho
Former US president George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, being greeted by First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama at the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC. Mr Bush signed the law authorising construction of the museum in 2003. The $734 million museum was designed by Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye.PHOTO: NYTIMES

ROANOKE (Virginia) • Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who is seeking to shore up support among black voters, has stumbled over the name of the new Washington museum on African-American history.

The new museum is a "really beautiful place", he told thousands of supporters in Roanoke on Saturday. He called it the "Smithsonian national museum of American history, African-American art".

In fact, the long-awaited institution, which opened on Saturday amid fresh racial strife in the country, is called the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Mr Trump, who has been accused of racism towards several minority groups, hailed African Americans' "incredible contributions" to the United States. "African Americans have given so much to our nation, and sacrificed so much for this nation."

While noting that some African Americans have been very successful, he acknowledged that "too many African Americans have been left behind and trapped in poverty", he said, blaming President Barack Obama's Democrats.

Mr Obama, who is the nation's first African-American leader, earlier inaugurated the striking 37,000 sq m bronze-clad museum before thousands of spectators gathered in the US capital to witness the historic opening.

TIES THAT BIND

Hopefully, this museum can help us to talk to each other. And more importantly, listen to each other. And most importantly, see each other. Black and white and Latino and Native American and Asian American - see how our stories are bound together.

US PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

Speaking at the dedication ceremony, he expressed hope that the new museum showcasing the triumphs and tragedies of the African-American experience would help to bring people together as the nation reels from recent racial upheavals.

"This national museum helps to tell a richer and fuller story of who we are," said Mr Obama.

"Hopefully, this museum can help us to talk to each other. And more importantly, listen to each other. And most importantly, see each other. Black and white and Latino and Native American and Asian American - see how our stories are bound together," he added.

The museum contains 36,000 items that trace the journey of African Americans from slavery in the 1800s to the fight for civil rights in the 20th century.

It also hails modern icons, such as media mogul Oprah Winfrey and tennis champion Serena Williams.

With a ring of a bell, Mr Obama, his wife Michelle and four generations of an African-American family inaugurated the US$540 million (S$734 million) museum designed by Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye.

The dedication ceremony was attended by a who's who of American officials, including Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as entertainment luminaries including Winfrey, Stevie Wonder and Will Smith.

The Obamas were joined on stage by former president George W. Bush and his wife Laura. Mr Bush signed the law authorising construction of the museum in 2003.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2016, with the headline 'Trump trips over name of African-American museum'. Print Edition | Subscribe