The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is one of those D.C. destinations that generates reverence, joy and anger, and it demands we examine our checkered past in the United States. As we celebrate Black History Month, we celebrate the contributions of African Americans, both noted and average, in our history.

The museum’s Contemplative Court, a room with a cylindrical fountain at its center and inspiring quotes carved on its walls, brings us the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other African-American stalwarts. It’s a haven from the glorious hubbub outside its doors and a place to think deeply after viewing the profound horror of slavery, the searing examples of racism and the destructiveness of Jim Crow America.

On one of the four walls is an eloquent-but-determined quote from Dr. King that is worth repeating at times like this, not only because of its soaring vision but also because of its somber reminder of what must be done. “We are determined. . . to work and fight until justice rains down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.” (Photo credit: Ted Eytan)