House Passes Bill to Create Black History, Culture Museum

By Hammer, Ben | Black Issues in Higher Education, December 18, 2003 | Go to article overview

House Passes Bill to Create Black History, Culture Museum


Hammer, Ben, Black Issues in Higher Education


The House voted overwhelmingly last month to establish national museum of Black history and culture, pushing the plan a step closer to reality after 15 years of efforts by veteran civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.

Lewis has introduced legislation every year in Congress since 1988 to create the museum. Every session, for one reason or another, the measure has failed in the House or Senate.

But the House passed by a 409-9 vote a bill to establish a museum as part of the Smithsonian Institution. The Senate passed similar legislation in June and Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said he would encourage President Bush to sign it this year.

"It's a very significant step down a very, very long road," Lewis said. "The African American story must be told, and a national African American museum in Washington, D.C., is critical to that story," he said in a floor speech.

The museum will study, collect and feature exhibits on slavery, reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, the civil rights movement and the African American Diaspora. The bill calls for the museum to work with historically Black colleges and universities, historical societies, educational institutions and other organizations that promote the study of African American life, art, history or culture.

The bill also calls for the museum to establish scholarships to assist individuals pursuing a career in the study of African American life, art, history and culture; for the establishment of a grant program in cooperation with other museums, historical societies and educational institutions for the study of modern-day practices of slavery throughout the world; and for the funding of educational programming at an African American museum or a nonprofit that promotes the study of the African American Diaspora. …

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