Oakland, CA – The National Veterans Coalition has called on the Smithsonian Institute to make public the floor plans and answers pertaining to how Black Military History will be presented in the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum is scheduled to open in Washington, DC in 2015.
According to Charles Blatcher, III, Chairman of the Coalition, â€œwe are raising questions because we have been made aware that the history is only being allotted three thousand square feet of display space in the museum galleryâ€
The questions are of the utmost importance, said Blatcher. Black Americans have participated in every war and conflict fought under the colors of this nation from 1770 to present. The history is the â€œcornerstoneâ€ of Black Americans claim for civil rights and equal entitlement. Every concession made in our historic struggle for civil rights, has come on the heels of our participation in the armed forces. The facts calls to question how such a meager space could be expected to provide an adequate presentation for such an extensive part of our national heritage.
The coalition has called on the Congressional Black Caucus to join them in seeking the release of information pertaining to the proposed floor plans for the national facility. Blatcher said, he had requested the information through the architectural firm and was told the plans were classified by the Smithsonian Institute. In a letter sent to the Dr. G. Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, the coalition has asked for the information. In addition, questions were raised about who and how the allotments of space were made.
According to Blatcher, the coalition embraces the concept of institutionalizing the history into a national facility. When the legislation was passed in 2004 signing into law the creation of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, we welcomed the passage. We understood then as well as now, that the institutionalization of the history is necessary for the subject to gain its rightful place of recognition in the annals of America History. We have advocated the cause for a national facility for thirty-five years. In acknowledgement of our advocacy, the Department of Interior invited us to collaborate in the preliminary planning for the national facility. Beyond that point, we were removed from the process of having a voice in the project.
Blatcher said, â€œWe now understand why we did not hear from anyone about the project for eight years. It is easier to ignore or minimize facts when nobody is present to question oneâ€™s understanding of the importance of the information, rationale or intentions. Â We are questioning those matters now. We will let the community know the answers when the Smithsonian Institute makes the requested information available.â€