New Smithsonian tells a brutal yet triumphant story; Obama says Trump needs a third grade US history lesson; Restoring a “Tuskegee Airmen” plane; How Ford revived presidential debates; “Virtual unwrapping” of a 1,700 year old biblical scroll


After much anticipation, the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture is set to open this weekend. There are several good reviews of the new institution, like this one from the Washington Post. Some have criticized it for being too “triumphant” in depicting how much African Americans have overcome, arguing that it does not do enough to highlight the struggles that remain far from complete. This review from The Atlantic, however, disagrees, insisting that the new museum has a nice balance that reminds us that US history is “not just a long march toward progress, but also a constant war against it.”

On display at the museum is a plane that was used to train the Tuskegee Airmen. Check out this short video on the plane, and the husband and wife that bought it, restored it, and then donated it to the museum.

Did you see Obama’s comments about how Trump seems to know less about black history than the average third grader? As I am sure you know, the Don said the other day that America’s black communities are “absolutely in the worst shape than they’ve ever been in before, ever, ever, ever.” Obama’s reply: “I think even most 8-year-olds would tell you that whole slavery thing wasn’t very good for black people. Jim Crow wasn’t very good for black people.” He encouraged Trump to visit the museum to learn a thing or two.

We’ve got a big presidential debate coming up that is going to be “must see” TV of epic proportions. As for the history of debates, we all know that Kennedy and Nixon squared off on TV in 1960, but the elections of 64, 68, and 72 were debate-free. It was Ford that brought them back in 1976 (and they’ve been a staple ever since), when he challenged Carter. His gamble backfired when he made a huge gaffe.

Here’s a good Fortune interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of the Broadway hit  and cultural phenomenon Hamilton. The success of his musical has shocked him, confessing that he felt that history teachers were the only ones that would enjoy it.

Did you see the fascinating story about the “virtual unwrapping” of a 1,700 biblical scroll that was long considered unreadable because unrolling it would have crumbled the artifact into pieces? Check out the technology that was used to scan the document and make it readable, but perhaps just as interesting is that the document (which contains the beginngs of Leviticus), reveals that after 2,000 years, the text is the same as today.


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