The 100-Year Mission To Create
The National Museum Of African American History And Culture
By Robert L. Wilkins

African American Museum Bill Clears Senate

The dream of a National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington was given a green light yesterday with the endorsement of the Senate.

Last night the Senate passed a bill giving the proposal $17 million for planning the museum plus $15 million for educational programs. The House passed a similar bill Wednesday.

Once the bill is signed by President Bush, the legislation calls for an advisory committee to work with the Smithsonian Institution on the plans. The museum, which organizers say could be opened by 2013, would be part of the Smithsonian.

“This is overwhelming for a number of reasons, including the countless people who have worked on this for the last 15 years. But there are also people like Mary McLeod Bethune and Mary Church Terrell who worked on this generations ago,” said Robert Wilkins, a Washington lawyer who was part of a presidential panel that studied the feasibility of the museum. “This is an opportunity for the nation to honor and respect the sacrifices, the pain and the overall triumph of the African American community in a way and scope that has never been done before.”

Momentum for the museum picked up two years ago when Bush appointed a commission to plan the museum, recommend locations and suggest an operating structure. The legislation calls for the Smithsonian Board of Regents to select the site within 12 months. In recent weeks, the sponsors agreed to drop a request that the museum be adjacent to the Capitol Reflecting Pool, which borders the east end of the Mall.

Washington Post; November 21, 2003

Posted in News & Events on November, 2003