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

The Smithsonian’s new African American museum was a long time in the making

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A chuckle erupted across the crowd on the National Mall at the opening ceremonies for the National Museum of African American History and Culture on September 24, when former First Lady Laura Bush announced her husband, George W. Bush, signed the 2003 legislation authorizing the creation of a museum in the nation’s capital showcasing the experience of Black people in America.

The crowd, predominantly African American, likely was a bit surprised and amused to learn that Bush had a direct hand in establishing the museum that offers six levels of artifacts reaching back 400 years, which tell the story of the African American experience. After all, Bush was the same president who oversaw the disastrous rescue efforts following Hurricane Katrina.
The former president’s involvement is just one of the many twists and turns in the long history of how this historic museum was won. It is a tale of false starts, disingenuous efforts, gridlock, and also unexpected alliances.

The story is chronicled in Long Road to Hard Truth: The 100 Year Mission to Create the National Museum of African American History and Culture, a slim, comprehensive, and slightly wonkish volume by Judge Robert Leon Wilkins, the newest member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Wilkins, who joined the powerful D.C. Circuit in 2014, has spent the last year chronicling the many efforts to make the National Museum of African American History and Culture a reality — efforts he was involved in reviving after decades of false starts.

Read more on Think Progress.

Photo caption & credit: President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, ring the Freedom Bell: First Baptist Church of Williamsburg, with members of the Bonner family at the dedication ceremony for the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. Four generations of the family, descended from Elijah B. Odom, a young slave who escaped to freedom, rang a bell from First Baptist Church, founded in 1776 and one of the country’s oldest African-American houses of worship. CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Posted in News & Events on October, 2016