Watts, Lewis to introduce legislation aimed at establishing black history museum

Saturday, April 28th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts wants to introduce legislation next week that would lead to the establishment of a national museum about black history.

``By establishing this museum and placing it on the National Mall, we will be able to properly honor the history of America and the legacy of African Americans, thereby putting it in a national light where it belongs,'' Watts, R-Okla., stated in a letter he wrote along with U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.

Watts and Lewis will sponsor the legislation in the House, while Sens. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and Max Cleland, D-Ga., will do so in the Senate, a story from the Tulsa World's Washington bureau said.

Under the plan, the new museum, to be called the National Museum of African American History and Culture, would be housed in the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building, which already is located on the Mall.

``The museum will house a permanent collection of artifacts and historical materials showcasing over 400 years of African American history and culture,'' Watts and Lewis stated in their letter.

``Preserving this rich record of the experiences of African Americans, studying their experiences and presenting those experiences through exhibits to the public would be of an incalculable value,'' the letter stated.

The Smithsonian Institution has no museum devoted to the documentation of black life, art, history and culture that encompasses the periods of slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, the civil rights movement or other significant periods, Watts and Lewis said in their letter.

The legislation also would authorize an educational and scholarship component for the new museum as well as affiliations with other museums of black history.

Funding for the museum is expected to come from a federal and private partnership.