Amid the recent controversy surrounding race relations in the United States, the National Museum of African American History and Culture announced this weekend that a new ‘Black Lives Matter’ collection will be featured in the museum. As part of the collection, controversial NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick will also be featured.From Bizpac Review:
Free agent NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be featured in a Black Lives Matter collection at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, museum curators announced this weekend.
USA Today Sports reports items belonging to Kaepernick will be incorporated into the museum’s Black Lives Matter collection. The quarterback became a symbol of the nation’s complicated racial politics and social relations when he declined to stand for the national anthem during the 2016 NFL season. The quarterback said his gesture signaled solidarity with the BLM movement.
“The National Museum of African American History and Culture has nearly 40,000 items in our collection,” sports curator Damion Thomas told USA Today. “The Colin Kaepernick collection is in line with the museum’s larger collecting efforts to document the varied areas of society that have been impacted by the Black Lives Matter movement.”However, many observers have noted there’s one glaring omission among the 40,000 items in the museum’s collection:
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the nation’s longest-serving black justice, remains absent from the museum.
Thomas was born in Georgia’s coastal lowlands among impoverished Gullah-speakers. By his own account, he did not master English until his early 20s. He came of age in Jim Crow Savannah, Ga., where he was turn ridiculed by white neighbors and classmates for his unpolished style. During this period, most public spaces in Savannah were segregated by race.Despite the startling racial injustices of his youth, he went on to the College of the Holy Cross and Yale Law School. He was appointed to the Supreme Court by President George H. W. Bush in 1991.
As one of only two African Americans to have served on the Supreme Court, it’s hard to justify the exclusion of Thomas. Thomas is well-known for his conservative approach to law, causing many to speculate that is the cause of his absence. However, the museum claims this is not the case:The museum has consistently denied that it applies ideological litmus tests in preparing its exhibits.
“There are many compelling personal stories about African Americans who have become successful in various fields, and obviously, Associate Justice Thomas is one of them,” a spokesman said. “However, we cannot tell every story in our inaugural exhibitions.”
“We will continue to collect and interpret the breadth of the African American experience,” the spokesman added.
Of course, nobody expects the museum to tell every story. However, one would think that the longest-serving African American Supreme Court Justice would be important enough of a story to tell. Sadly, museum curators have decided otherwise.
[Note: This post was authored by Michael Lee. Follow him on Twitter @UAMichaelLee]