THE SENATE finally approved a Bill early yesterday clearing the way for the fulfilment of a 70-year-old dream of the black community - a national museum of African-American culture in Washington.
The measure passed by both houses of Congress and certain to be signed into law by President George Bush upon his return from Britain provides a $17m (pounds 10m) down-payment on what will be a $350m project, to be financed equally by public and private contributions.
The new museum will be placed under the aegis of the Smithsonian Institution, which operates Washington's most famous museums, including the Air and Space Museum, the National Gallery of Art and the museums of Natural History and American History.
A site has yet to be determined, but almost certainly it will be either on or close to the Mall, the broad green swath stretching from the foot of the Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial in the heart of monumental Washington, where most of the Smithsonian museums are to be found.
Serious efforts to establish a museum of black history began in the 1930s, but for a variety of reasons they all failed - most recently because of claims that there was no room on the Mall.
In the meantime Washington has acquired memorials, monuments and museums of every hue. In the past decade memorials to the Korean War and to President Franklin Roosevelt have been inaugurated, and a Second World War memorial, in the shadow of the 554ft obelisk- shaped Washington monument, opens next year.
In 1994, the city gained a museum dedicated to the Holocaust (an event that occurred 4,000 miles away in Europe). …