The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History And Culture just opened on September 24th. And surprisingly, it’s sparking controversy.
The museum prides itself on highlighting the accomplishments of significant African American figures, but some are saying that there are a few key figures they may have left out.
For example, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas lacks any positive recognition from the museum. Yet, Anita Hill, the woman who accused of Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991, is remembered as someone who helped make a difference for African Americans.
According to Circa, there are two quotes on plaques about Hill which read:
“In 1991 Anita Hill charged Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas with sexual harassment. This event transformed public awareness and legal treatment of sexual harassment. Outraged by Hill’s treatment by the all-white, all-male Senate committee, women’s groups organized campaigns to elect more women to public office.
Anita Hill accused a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas, of sexual harassment. Her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee provoked serious debates on sexual harassment, race loyalty, and gender roles.”
Circa also pointed out how Thurgood Marshall, the only other African American to sit on the Supreme Court, is mentioned as a “key figure” in the Civil Rights Era as a lawyer.
In addition, the museum highlights the Black Lives Matter movement in a favorable light. They have an exhibit partially dedicated to the movement called, “A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond.”
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The museum describes the exhibit as illustrating:
The impact of African Americans on life in the United States—social, economic, political, and cultural—from the death of Martin Luther King Jr. to the second election of President Barack Obama. Subjects include the Black Arts Movement, hip-hop, the Black Panthers, the rise of the black middle class and, more recently, the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
But that’s not all they’ve done to pay tribute to Black Lives Matter.
Just last week, the museum lit up like this:
Thomas is currently serving his 25th year on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Among some of his achievements are:
- He is the second African American to serve on the Supreme Court.
- He served under John Danforth as Assistant Attorney General of Missouri.
- He was appointed the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights With the U.S. Department of Education.
- He was appointed Chairman of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
- He was a recipient of the Francis Boyer Award, an accolade that highlights individuals who make remarkable contributions to government policy or social welfare.
Independent Journal Review reached out to the museum for comment on why Thomas is nearly absent from the exhibit, but had not yet received an answer at the time of publication.