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It was a rather odd sight: as an array of museum officials, including former first lady Laura Bush, took up shovels at the groundbreaking for the first national museum dedicated exclusively to African-American history and culture, the nation's first black president sat watching, no shovel in hand.
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama attended the ceremony Wednesday for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
When he finished and returned to his seat, a call was put out for groundbreakers to gather at the front of the stage. Obama then stood, buttoned his jacket and prepared to join in. But an official whispered something to him and he sat back down as museum officials and members of the museum's advisory council, including the former first lady, picked up shovels for the ceremonial turning of the dirt. The Obamas remained on stage.
White House officials said that only museum officials and advisers were scheduled to take part in the shoveling. They said that was part of the agreed upon plan between the White House and the museum.