The Smithsonian broke ground Feb. 22 for its National Museum of African American History and Culture, the 13th Smithsonian 13th along or near the National Mall in Washington D.C. The museum, slated to open in 2015, will sit on a five-acre parcel of land nestled between the Washington Monument and the National Museum of American History.
"The time will come when few people remember drinking from a colored water fountain or boarding a segregated bus," President Obama said during the ground breaking ceremony. "That's why what we build here won't just be an achievement for our time, it will be a monument for all time."
Among the individuals highlighted in the new museum will be 83-year-old blues guitarist Clyde “Pop” Ferguson, a frequent guest musician in the churches of the North Carolina District. He and his son, Clyde Jr., visit churches and schools teaching about the music of African-American culture. Clyde is a member of the USMB Leadership Board.
As one of the last musicians of his era, Pop’s stories and recordings will be part of the National Museum of African American History. CL “Fast Chat” reporter Kathy Heinrichs Wiest talked with Pop for the December 2010/January 2011 issue.
How long have you been playing music?
I’ve been playing since I was 10. Back in those days I didn’t have any toys to play with. I just had a tire. My father got me a guitar somehow.
Who did you play for?
At first I played for my dog and two cats. My daddy was a preacher so my start was in church.
Where did your music take you after you grew up?
In the church it was all gospel. After I came home from World War 2 I started running the roads as a blues man, but I never forgot my upbringing in the church.
You’re back in the church now. How is church playing different?
Church people enjoy the old-fashioned gospel style and you don’t put on so much antics. In the juke joints you let loose.
Why did the Smithsonian honor you?
I don’t know. I was just playing, having fun and got a letter one day saying I was going to be put in the Smithsonian.