Even in 2016, families are still very much affected by slavery. At the young age of 99 years old, Ruth Bonner, is able to be a part of history and share her family’s story with our Nation. What a powerful moment when you have the First African-American President and his family present for the opening of this museum.
“Today, we have with us a family that reflects the arc of our progress: the Bonner family ― four generations in all, starting with gorgeous 7-year-old Christine and going up to gorgeous 99-year-old Ruth,” President Barack Obama said in a speech before ringing the bell. “Ruth’s father, Elijah Odom, was born into servitude in Mississippi. He was born a slave. As a young boy, he ran, though, to his freedom. He lived through Reconstruction and he lived through Jim Crow. But he went on to farm, and graduate from medical school, and gave life to the beautiful family that we see today ― with a spirit reflected in beautiful Christine, free and equal in the laws of her country and in the eyes of God.”
Members of Bonner’s family were present as well as church members from the First Baptist Church located in Virginia, which was started by free and enslaved African Americans.