After numerous challenges and outright opposition, the quest for a national museum documenting the history and cultural contributions of African-Americans has been realized.
Follow the decades of history, full of starts and stops, below:
1915 – A Civil War veterans group establishes the National Memorial Association for African-American military contributions.
1919 – Congress considers a National Memorial Building.
1920 – The Commission on Fine Arts recommends museum consideration be postponed until after a World War I memorial is approved.
1929 – On his last day in office, President Calvin Coolidge signs a law authorizing the commission to construct a memorial building. The commission requests $1.6M from unclaimed soldiers’ pay and money lost in the 1872 collapse of Freedman’s Bureau.
1930 – President Herbert Hoover rejects a funding request amid a worsening Great Depression.
1933-35 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt abandons the commission and rejects further development efforts.
1968-69 – Following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., bills are introduced in both chambers to pursue a national museum.
1986 – At the urging of Texas Democratic Rep. Mickey Leland, Congress passes a resolution supporting a museum on the Mall.
1988 – Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis introduces a bill to create a museum within the Smithsonian.
1991 – A Smithsonian commission recommends a national museum
1992 – The Senate passes a bill by Illinois Democratic Sen. Paul Simon. It lingers in the House.
1993 – Lewis gets a measure to approve the museum through the House. It stalls in the Senate the next year. He and Simon repeatedly push legislation.
2001 – With the support of Republicans Rep. J.C. Watts of Oklahoma and Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Lewis gets approval for a study commission.
2003 – President George W. Bush signs a law authorizing construction of the museum.
2006 – The Smithsonian selects a 5-acre site for museum on the Mall.
2012 – President Barack Obama presides at the groundbreaking ceremony.
2016 – Obama plans to attend the museum opening Sept. 24.
Sources: Smithsonian, CQ BudgetTracker, CQ BillTrack, Library of Congress
Photos by: Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call, House, Carol M. Highsmith/World Telegram & Sun