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Donor of Harriet Tubman’s shawl and hymnal stops for a picture

Hunched over a cane, historian Charles Blockson, 82, made his way down a corridor that explores slavery in America. The actress and choreographer Debbie Allen was at his side. They share a common link. Allen has played Harriet Tubman on stage, and Blockson donated two of the museum’s greatest treasures: a shawl once owned by Tubman and her 19th-century hymnal. The hymnal bears Tubman’s name.

“There’s Harriet Tubman, straight ahead,” Allen said.” Doctor Blockson, do you want to take a picture with it?”

He saw the shawl, behind glass, exalted and preserved. He smiled for a picture.

“No flash,” a guard said.

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Silk-lace-and-linen shawl given to Harriet Tubman by Queen Victoria.
The African American Museum opens

Complete coverage from The National Mall, from the early risers to the public’s first impression of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, with all of the opening ceremony’s speeches (8!) in between.