Legal History

Did new black history museum snub Justice Thomas? Spokeswoman says it can't include everyone

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Justice Clarence Thomas

Justice Clarence Thomas.

Justice Clarence Thomas scarcely gets a mention in the recently opened National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

Thomas is briefly mentioned in a reference to testimony by Anita Hill during his confirmation hearing, report the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, the Root and an op-ed by the Washington Post. Otherwise he is absent from the Smithsonian’s new museum. Hill had accused Thomas of sexual harassment.

A group called StandUnited sees Thomas’ absence as a snub to the “steadfast conservative” and claims the museum has shown “blatant discrimination against diversity of thinking.” The group has launched an online petition calling for the addition of exhibits “that highlight all black Americans, not just those that fit into your narrow worldview.”

A museum spokeswoman has defended Thomas’ exclusion. “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,” said spokeswoman Linda St.Thomas. “However, we cannot tell every story in our inaugural exhibitions.” There is no exhibit on the Supreme Court or the justice system, the museum notes.

The late Justice Thurgood Marshall was featured in the museum because of his work on landmark civil-rights cases such as Brown v. Board of Education, according to the museum.

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