Our nation’s capital has changed a lot since I last visited some years ago. One of the new-to-me sights is the Newseum, five floors of colorful interactive exhibits about the history of news, starting in Europe in the 1500s with the invention of the printing press. The Pennsylvania Terrace on the top floor gives a spectacular open-air view of the United States Capitol.
I had never really thought much about how absolutely essential a free press is to democracy. With the invention of the printing press, life became much more difficult for tyrants. Their subjects suddenly had ways of exposing exposing their misdeeds and demanding justice.
Social media have only accelerated that process. An example of a communication satellite hangs high above the atrium. On the Pennsylvania Terrace, there is a timeline of events that took place on the famous street below.
I was amazed and appalled to see a picture of slave pens that once existed below the street. Wealthy people could deposit their slaves there f or safekeeping while they enjoyed their dinners.
The next placard is an illustration of the parade that took place on Pennsylvania Avenue in 1866 following the Emancipation Proclamation. The availability of news all through human history has changed the course of history.
Join me next time for travels in Europe–and in the “New World!”