Lonnie Bunch, of the Museum of African American History, talks about the purpose of the museum. Watch.
Historian Lonnie Bunch, the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, is among those honored at the 4th annual BET Honors.
Lonnie described the recognition as a “surprising and humbling honor.”
“Tonight my cup runneth over,” he said as he accepted the award.
Some exhibits that will eventually fill the museum building, which is scheduled to open in 2015, are already traveling around the country.
“All aspects of Black life and American life will be covered in this museum,” he said.
Although the exhibits will tell the story of African Americans, Lonnie said that the museum isn’t just for one demographic or ethnic group, nor are the stories told there just those of Black people.
“I think it’s really important to realize this is not an African-American museum for African Americans. Rather, it is the museum that says this story is an American story. What we want to run through the museum are themes like freedom, citizenship, equality… So, as you begin to understand the African-American experience, you better understand the American experience,” he said.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture will be the first of its kind built on the National Mall. The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial is scheduled to open nearby in 2011.
The BET Honors airs Monday at 9 p.m. (ET). Along with Lonnie, Cicely Tyson, Iman, Herbie Hancock, Lisa Johnson Rice and Jamie Foxx will all be honored by musical guests that include Yolanda Adams, Tank, Guy, Trey Songz and more.
Find out more about the museum here, and watch the S2S exclusive interview with Lonnie below.
-Tracy L. Scott