South Carolina’s first African American U.S. senator has asked the Smithsonian Institution to reconsider its omission of Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas from the exhibits in the new National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Smithsonian officials did not have any immediate comment on the request by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-Charleston. The museum opened here in late September.
The senator’s request was similar to those made Tuesday by other members of Congress, including U.S. Reps. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter, R-Ga., and Pete Sessions, R-Texas.
Scott’s letter says Justice Thomas is more than the second African American to serve on the nation’s highest court. His story explains the “impossible socioeconomic obstacles and bigoted hurdles” faced by many successful African Americans, Scott wrote.
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“I was saddened and extremely disappointed to learn that the museum excluded the celebration of one of the nation’s most influential African Americans and preeminent legal minds, and the second-ever African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court,” the letter noted.
Scott went on to write that, like Thomas, “I can identify to some degree with some of the inherent stereotypes and personal obstacles that Justice Thomas overcame to reach the pinnacle of his profession. I can attest that, similar to Justice Thomas, as an African American man growing up in the abject poverty of the Deep South, without the full arsenal of a nuclear family, and having struggled early on in school, options for my success seemed limited and role models or mentors were hard to find.”
Scott also made a point of also praising the museum, calling it “awe-inspiring,” “amazing” as well as “essential in telling a complete history of the unique and compelling story” of the United States.