It was a sublime moment. “Mother Bonner,” as the staff at her assisted-living community called her, was the daughter of a man born into slavery and had lived through almost a century of racial oppression and segregation.

Now here she was, ringing the hallowed bell to officially open the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.

The graying man who stood behind her steadying her arm was the country’s first black president, Barack Obama.

Bonner, who cherished that day, died peacefully in her sleep Friday in the Silver Spring assisted-living facility, her son, Michael, said Wednesday. She had turned 100 on March 16.

Ruth Odom Bonner, African American Museum, National Museum of African American History and Culture, NMAAHC, Slavery, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN

Ruth Odom Bonner, African American Museum, National Museum of African American History and Culture, NMAAHC, Slavery, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN


W.E.B. DU BOIS | CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST, EDUCATOR, JOURNALIST

W.E.B. Du Bois was one of the most important African-American activists during the first half of the 20th century. He co-founded the NAACP and supported Pan-Africanism.

Scholar and activist W.E.B. Du Bois was born on February 23, 1868, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. In 1895, he became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Du Bois wrote extensively and was the best known spokesperson for African-American rights during the first half of the 20th century. He co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909. Du Bois died in Ghana in 1963. (Biography.com).


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