Local woman makes history with opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture

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Local woman makes history at new African American museum. (KTRK)

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is set to open next weekend in Washington, D.C., becoming the newest member of the Smithsonian.

Lauren Anderson says she never dreamed she would make history.

"My agenda was to dance as much as possible and as many roles as possible as often as possible and fill in for those who don't go on and dance," she said. "So that's what I did and I worked hard, I worked really hard for long hours."

She worked to change her athletic body into a leaner version to look more like other ballerinas. She would quickly find out that there was a major difference between herself and other dancers.

"They moved everybody up, even the apprentices and I was standing in the back and he turned to the assistant and said 'do we have someone else from the Academy, I cant have a black girl in the corp,'" Anderson said. "So that hurt, because it was in my face and in front of everybody in my face."

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Local woman set to make history with the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

In 1990, Anderson was promoted to principal dancer, the first black woman to hold that post in a major company. After retiring a decade ago, she now teaches at schools across the city of Houston.

The museum contains about 85,000 square feet of exhibition space on five floors. It has nearly 3,000 objects and 12 exhibitions, along with 183 videos. Established more than a decade ago, it has been accumulating items to tell the story of America through the African-American lens.

When the museum asked Anderson for a pair of her pointe shoes, she realized history has a long arc.

"I know I'm a part of that because I'm African-American but I'm a part of the preservation of that, which is, there aren't words to say how I really feel," Anderson said.

On September 24, she will see her shoes in the museum and learn why her own role in history is so important.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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