Ruth Odom Bonner was 99 when she grasped the rope of the old Baptist church bell and started it tolling across the Mall last fall before a gathering of thousands.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, with members of the Bonner family, including 99-year-old Ruth Odom Bonner, center, at the dedication ceremony for the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in September 2016. (Pablo Martinze Monsivais/AP)

It was a sublime moment. “Mother Bonner,” as the staff at her assisted-living community called her, was the daughter of a man born into slavery and had lived through almost a century of racial oppression and segregation.

Now here she was, ringing the hallowed bell to officially open the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.

The graying man who stood behind her steadying her arm was the country’s first black president, Barack Obama.  More….