WaPo Writer: African-American Museum Should Keep Noose in Exhibit

Posted: Jun 02, 2017 6:30 PM

Tourists found a noose at National Museum of African American History and Culture on Wednesday, the second discovered this week, leading the museum to close off the section for almost three hours before deeming the area safe.

Employees of the Smithsonian met outside of the museum on Thursday, standing together in response to the act, taking a group photo. 

However, some are pushing the museum to take greater action.

Philip Kennicott of  “The Washington Post” suggests that the noose be included in the exhibit. He argues the museum’s job is to teach history truthfully, also saying that the curators chose objects of hate and racism. Its inclusion in the collection would acknowledge its dark historical significance while “neutraliz(ing)” its power.  

“The museum deflates the symbolic power of the object without diminishing its historical importance,” Kennicott wrote.

The museum’s founding director, Lonnie Bunch, has expressed the same view on the Smithsonian’s mission to remind America of its flawed history. The museum published a statement by Bunch on March 31, 2016, defending and explaining the inclusion of Bill Cosby in the exhibit:

“For too long, aspects of African American history have been erased and undervalued, creating an incomplete interpretation of the American past,” Bunch wrote. “This museum seeks to tell…'the unvarnished truth' that will help our visitors to remember and better understand what has often been erased and forgotten.” 

In the same spirit, adding the rope to the collection acknowledges the reality that African-Americans still experience the effects of racism. 

“It’s shocking that in 2017 we still have this type of bigotry.” Lori Nzekwe, a tourist who saw the roped-off area, said