Philadelphia raised me, but Washington, DC is where I became a woman. Growing up, I didn’t go into the district very much even though I spent every summer and some winter breaks just outside of DC in suburban Montgomery County, Maryland from the age of 7 until 14. My paternal grandparents and a host of cousins, aunts, and uncles all lived in Maryland so my mom would ship me off to Maryland at every school break. Most summers, I hated it. Mainly because there was nothing much to do during the times I spent there except for the occasional meet-up with cousins or other kids my age who were the children of family friends. But then, fast forward to freshmen year at Seton Hall University during Introduction to Political Science class when a representative from The Washington Center presented the idea of spending a semester in DC. My sister-friend Gwen and I (both Poli Sci majors) were intrigued. We promised to participate in the program together. I wanted to do it as soon as possible, but it was Gwen’s idea to wait until our final semester of college because she argued it could lead to job opportunities. And she was right.
The summer ahead of my final year at Seton Hall, I was struggling with back-to-back deaths in the family and also dealing with a lot of other personal issues, all while trying to juggle school, work, and an internship at ABC News in New York City. I just needed an escape and DC was it. Gwen (a New Jersey native) and I headed to DC and never looked back. The semester in DC was the best semester of my university experience.
I was in DC was election night 2016 when Trump won the presidency. By far one of the worst nights of my life. I was legit sad for months to come.
I really wanted to visit was the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture otherwise known as the African-American Museum. Since opening nearly 3 years ago, the museum has been a major attraction in Washington, DC. All national museums and many other museums have free admission. However due to the volume of people wanting to visit the African-American museum, there is advanced ticketing required and they have dedicated a few days during each month where tickets are not required for entry. I happened to be in DC on the day tickets were not required. I met my good friend Akoua one early morning and we explored the museum together. It was not Akoua's first time at the museum but she wanted to come along with me again. As I would come to discover, the museum is so rich with information that it requires multiple visits to capture the entire experience.
I arrived at the museum earlier than Akoua and stood in the very long line. When I finally entered, I immediately started to cry. I was overwhelmed with emotions because of all what the museum represents. The creation of this museum dates back to 1929, when Former U.S President Herbert Hoover appointed a commission (including civil rights leaders such as Mary Mcleod Bethune) to build a national museum to showcase African-American contributions and achievements in the arts and sciences. However, Congress refused to fund the project and private funding was never enough. In spite of decades-long attempts through various Congresses, the project never reached its funding goal until the President Obama came to office. He led the efforts to raise the funds and ensured that it be built during his terms in office. During his final months in office, the museum was opened.
I love DC because of what it represents:
The power. Just knowing that decisions made in this town impact the world.
The people. Highly ambitious people of all ethnicities.
The purpose. Everyone comes to DC with an agenda.
Most importantly—the relationships I formed in DC.
DC will always be dear to my heart whether or not I ever become a Washingtonian again.