The Long Road to Hard Truth: The 100 Year Mission to Create the National Museum of African American History and Culture

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Summary

  • Robert L. Wilkins tells the story of how his curiosity about why there wasn't a national museum dedicated to African American history and culture became an obsession - eventually leading him to quit his job as an attorney when his wife was seven months pregnant with their second child, and make it his mission to help the museum become a reality.
  • Long Road to Hard Truth chronicles the early history, when staunch advocates sought to create a monument for Black soldiers fifty years after the end of the Civil War and in response to the pervasive indignities of the time, including lynching, Jim Crow segregation, and the slander of the racist film Birth of a Nation. The movement soon evolved to envision creating a national museum, and Wilkins follows the endless obstacles through the decades, culminating in his honor of becoming a member of the Presidential Commission that wrote the plan for creating the museum and how, with support of both Black and White Democrats and Republicans, Congress finally authorized the museum. In September 2016, exactly 100 years after the movement to create it began, the Smithsonian will open the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Subject

  • Bunch, Lonnie G
  • Baldwin, James 1924-1987
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • Presidential Commission on the Development of the National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

Category

Smithsonian History Bibliography

Notes

Wilkins is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit and played a key role in the establishment of the National Museum of African American History and Culture as a member of the Presidential Commission on the Development of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu

Date

2016

Topic

  • New Museums
  • District of Columbia

Place

District of Columbia

Physical description

Number of pages : 160; Page numbers : 0-160

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