President Obama said Washington’s new National Museum of African-American History and Culture could shed some light America's ongoing struggles with racial divides.

“The timing of this is fascinating,” he said Friday ahead of the museum's grand opening. "Because in so many ways, it is the best of times. But in many ways these are also troubled times.


“My hope is that as people are seeing what’s happened in Tulsa or Charlotte on television, and perhaps are less familiar with not only the history of the African-American experience but also how recent some of those challenges have been, upon visiting the museum may step back and say, I understand, I sympathize, I empathize, I can see why folks might feel angry, and I want to be part of the solution as opposed to resisting change,' " Obama said.

Obama’s remarks come as America struggles with the two police shootings of black men, Terence Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott. Violent protests have erupted in Charlotte in the wake of Scott's death.

Obama on Friday said the new African-American history museum could enlighten people unfamiliar with the struggles of black people through history and put current events in context.

“My hope is that white folks watching these same images on television and then seeing the history represented at this museum can say to themselves, ‘The struggles we’re going through today are connected to the past,' ” he said.

“And yet all the progress we’ve made can sink into space, because if we join hands and we do things right and we maintain our dignity and we continue to appeal to the better angels of this nation, progress will be made,” he added.

“And the fact of the matter is that one of the challenges we have in generating a constructive discussion about how to solve these problems is because what people see on television and what they hear on radio is bereft of context and ignores history, and so people are just responding as if none of what’s represented in this museum ever happened. And that’s true for all of us, not just some of us."