Obamas, Bushes sit together as ceremony begins

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (all times local):

10:55 a.m.

President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush took seats of honor at the opening ceremony of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

In 2003, Bush signed the law that allowed construction of the museum to move forward. Obama, who is featured in exhibits in the museum, will cut the ribbon opening the building later on Saturday.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts also sat on stage. Former President Bill Clinton sat among dignitaries in the crowd, next to Vice President Joe Biden.

Bush and Obama sat onstage together with their wives, Michelle Obama and Laura Bush. They were joined by civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, and museum founding director Lonnie Bunch.

10:30 a.m.

Celebrities and dignitaries are mingling with eager crowds on the National Mall to wait for the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The Howard University "Showtime" marching band entertained as the crowd filled seats set up between the museum and the Washington Monument.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, actress Angela Bassett, House Speaker Paul Ryan and men representing the famed Tuskegee Airmen were some of the people seen in the crowd in front of the stage at the new museum awaiting the opening ceremony featuring President Barack Obama.

Expected to speak later in the day are actor Robert DeNiro, former President George W. Bush, civil rights icon John Lewis and finally Obama before he cuts the ribbon to open the museum.

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3 a.m.

President Barack Obama plans to officially open the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture at a ribbon cutting ceremony on the National Mall.

The new museum is located only steps away from the White House and the Washington Monument, which was dedicated to a slaveholder president, George Washington.

Museum officials say the new Smithsonian facility will chronicle the complex relationship between the U.S. and a people it once enslaved, and tell the story of those who worked to make the necessary changes to bring the country to where it is today.

Thousands are expected to gather on the National Mall on Saturday morning to watch the nation's first black president cut the ribbon to open the museum.

Ground was broken for the new museum in 2012.


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