Why does America’s second black Supreme Court justice not deserve an exhibit?
America’s new black history museum apparently likes to discriminate against black conservatives. There is no exhibit in the museum dedicated to Clarence Thomas, America’s second black Supreme Court Justice and first Republican black justice.
“The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture,” notes the website.
The irony of a museum devoted to chronicling the abuses against blacks -- from slavery to segregation -- excluding one of their own is a deplorable attempt to rewrite history. It makes you wonder what else the curators are black-washing from our history.
Among the “more than 36,000 artifacts” collected, the museum’s director, Lonnie G. Bunch III, could set aside only a sliver of room, and that was to smear Thomas. The museum spotlights Anita Hill, who famously accused Thomas of sexual harassment during his 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings before the Senate. Hill is included in an exhibition about blacks in the 1990s that “features testimonies trumpeting her courage and the surge of women’s activism that ensued,” wrote the Daily Signal.
Many people who worked for Thomas when he was Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), where Hill alleged the harassment occurred, also discredited Hill’s claim at the time.
Bunch noted on the museum’s website that “there are few things as powerful and as important as a people, as a nation that is steeped in its history.” What he meant was the distorted history he chooses to make important.
Like him or loathe him, Thomas belongs in that museum. Born into poverty in Georgia, Thomas was raised in the segregated south by his grandparents and experienced racism by whites. Despite the odds, he graduated from Yale Law School. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan appointed him chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where he turned around an agency in fiscal disarray -- with negligent accounting and a history of not enforcing equal opportunity laws.
While black Democrats want to mock Thomas as an “Uncle Tom” or “Lawn Jockey,” he boasts a better record of improving blacks’ lives than President Barack Obama.
In 1983 as chairman of the EEOC, Thomas negotiated over a $40 million settlement in a discrimination lawsuit against General Motors. About $10 million went to fund scholarships at historically black colleges and universities, as well as other schools such as the University of Pittsburgh and Yale. Grants also were given to the Society of Women Engineers, the National Urban League, Inroads, the National Hispanic Scholarship Fund, and the Minority Leaders Fellowship Program of the Washington Center.
While working at the Department of Education, Thomas disagreed with the Reagan administration’s decision to support Bob Jones University when the IRS revoked its tax-exempt status because of racially discriminatory polices, including a ban on interracial dating. In 1992, the Supreme Court was waiting to hear an appeal of the case by the school when Reagan’s Justice Department, which first asked the court to hear the case, decided not to pursue it.
“Like most blacks who worked in the Reagan administration, I supported the original IRS decision and was shocked when the Justice Department backed down and let the university off the legal hook. This made us feel like non-entities within the administration, and exposed us to scorn and ridicule from without,” wrote Thomas in My Grandfather’s Son.
Thomas’ long opposition to affirmative action also comes from his life experience. He wrote in his book that he felt he had been tricked by being made to mention race on his application to Yale.
“As much as it stung to be told that I’d done well in the seminary despite my race, it was far worse to feel that I was now at Yale because of it.”
In a tweet I made referencing how “awful” it was for the black museum to leave Thomas out of its exhibits, Fox Business News host Charles Payne tweeted:
“Thomas is personification of MLK dream-achieving success through hard work & content of character @Oprah please fix this.”
Oprah Winfrey contributed $21 million to the museum. I refuse to call it by its full name, because this is America -- and blacks haven’t been from Africa since the 17th Century, when they were forcibly brought here as slaves. But it’s sad that people have to ask a celebrity like Oprah Winfrey to tell the museum to do its job, not politicize it.