Hmmm a little controversy:
It was a rather odd sight: as an array of museum officials, including former first lady Laura Bush, took up shovels at the groundbreaking for the first national museum dedicated exclusively to African-American history and culture, the nation's first black president sat watching, no shovel in hand.
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama attended the ceremony Wednesday for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and he delivered remarks.
“Just as the memories of our earliest days have been confined to dusty letters and faded pictures, a time will come when few people remember drinking from a colored water fountain or boarding a segregated bus,” the president said. This museum “will do more than simply keep those memories alive. …this museum should …stand as proof that the most important things in life rarely come quickly or easily.”
When he finished and returned to his seat, a call was put out for groundbreakers to gather at the front of the stage. Obama then stood, buttoned his jacket and prepared to join in. But an official whispered something to him and he sat back down as museum officials and members of the museum's advisory council, including the former first lady, picked up shovels for the ceremonial turning of the dirt. The Obamas remained on stage.
White House officials said that only museum officials and advisers were scheduled to take part in the shoveling. They said that was part of the agreed upon plan between the White House and the museum.
Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St.Thomas issued a statement saying shoveling was "intended for members of the Smithsonian family — senior staff and members of the museum’s council. Former first lady Laura Bush joined the groundbreaking as she is a member of the museum’s advisory council."
The museum, set to open in 2015, is slated for a five-acre site on the National Mall, next to the Washington Monument and opposite the National Museum of American History. It will be the 19th museum to open as part of the Smithsonian Institution.