7 ON YOUR SIDE steps in for NMAAHC ticket tussle

NMAAHC ticket tussle (ABC7)

Seventy-two- year old Alphonso Walker of Upper Marlboro remembers Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. He was there at the Lincoln memorial when Dr. King delivered it.

"I was able to get up close. I did that by climbing a tree," Walker says.

In 1963, Walker had just moved to DC from Miami, Florida to attend Howard University. He was immediately caught up in the civil rights movement. So it was natural, when the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened last year, that Walker wanted to go. But he didn’t want to go alone. He arranged to go with 60 of his high school classmates from Miami. They decided to make it a class trip and walker would coordinate from this end.

Claudette Farrington, one of Walker’s classmates still lives in Miami. Farrington worked with him to try to get the museum passes. They wanted to make the trip in late July. On February 6, they applied for their tickets online.

"We received the letter acknowledging that they had received the request," Walker told us. The confirmation says they will contact you with in ten to fourteen business days to confirm the reservation.

Farrington says, "We were waiting for a response and just didn't get one."

While they waited they began making arrangements, but when they heard nothing from the museum they began to worry. Then they began calling.

"Some days I'm on the phone three and a half, four hours holding waiting for somebody to pick up,” says Farrington.

Walker told us, “They put you on a voicemail or answer machine and it loops, over and over and over."

Finally, during one of those calls they were told the museum could not give them tickets for July. They cancelled all of their arrangements. Then came an email from the museum saying the group had been sent 60 day passes for August 24. But that’s a date they cannot make. Frustrated, they gave up on the idea. Walker though had one last call to make. He called 7 ON YOUR SIDE and we reached out to the museum.

Shrita Hernandez, the museum’s chief public affairs and communcations officer told us, “We're first of all very sorry about what happened with Mr. Walker and his group. His experience does not match our standards for service that he and all of our visitors deserve."

So now the pilgrimage is back on. Walker and his classmates will celebrate their 55th class reunion at the museum next June. Hernandez told 7 ON YOUR SIDE, "we're looking forward to receiving them and they will have a time they will never forget."

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