An online petition decrying the exclusion of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas from the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture has attracted thousands of signatures.
The new Smithsonian opened in September. It gives pride of place to Anita Hill, the woman who accused Thomas of sexual harassment during his confirmation hearings, in an exhibit on blacks in the 1990s. The exhibit features testimonies trumpeting her courage and the surge of women’s activism that attended her allegations, while making only peripheral reference to the nation’s second black Supreme Court justice.
There is no showcase of Thomas’s own life and career, which ran its own harsh gauntlet of racial discrimination prior to a series of prominent appointments in the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations which culminated in his elevation to the U.S. Supreme Court. (RELATED: Clarence Thomas Is Conspicuously Absent In The New Black History Smithsonian)
“He has established himself as one of the brightest legal minds of his generation, yet the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture fails to include any mention of his numerous accolades,” the petition reads. “Curators at the museum singled out Thomas due to his unique views on race and his conservative thought that the federal government is the greatest threat to our individual liberties.” The appeal is addressed to Dr. Lonnie Bunch III, the founding director of the museum.
The Smithsonian insists it did not apply an ideological litmus test while curating its collections. It also did not foreclose the possibility that Thomas would be included at some point in the future.
“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.
So far, the petition has attracted over 7,000 signatures.
Editor’s note: Justice Thomas’ wife Ginni is an employee of The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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