Chicago woven throughout Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History

The Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture opens to the public this Saturday September 24th.

It’s a project that’s been a century in the making, proposed by black Civil War soldiers.

There are dozens of Chicago ties represented in this 400,000 square foot museum.

WGN’s Courtney Gousman traveled to Washington to give us a glimpse of Chicago’s influence on this historic museum.

“If we we’re going to tell the story of black migration from the south to the north, it’s a Chicago story,” said Lonnie Bunch, the museum’s founding director.

That’s when black America’s rich history in Chicago begins.

Starting in the early 1900’s, African Americans left the South by the millions looking for jobs and opportunity.

As the production of passenger trains were booming on Chicago’s South Side, many former slaves were hired to work as Pullman porters.

The uniforms the men wore while serving in segregated railcars are now proudly on display.

The “Chicago Defender” newspaper, played an important role in attracting black families to Chicago, while telling their stories as spelled out another exhibit.

Ebony and Jet magazines, both Chicago publications, also helped to provide a lens into culture and the black family.

In this museum, there are glimpses of Chicago’s Bud Billiken Day Parade, Stateway Gardens, Lake Meadows, and Michael Jordan.

Oprah’s influence as an entrepreneur and cultural influences is also on display.  The exhibit features furniture and audience chairs from the now demolished Harpo Studios.

There’s also this 350 seat theatre named in her honor.

The museum is free and open to the public, but you will need to reserve timed-ticket passes on the museum’s website, https://nmaahc.si.edu/visit/opening .

If you can’t make the trip to Washington D.C. for the opening ceremony, Chicago’s Smithsonian affiliate invites you to watch on its big screen.

The viewing party starts at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning, at Dusable Museum, 740 east 56th Pl., Chicago.