Sunday, August 14, 2022

Clarence Thomas Exhibit Opens at Smithsonian’s Black History Museum

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

*One year after Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History had its grand opening, and after conservatives grumbled about the exclusion of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a display dedicated to the Justice has just opened.

Located in a corner of the Civil Rights Era section, the exhibit is a combination display featuring Justice Thurgood Marshall, America’s first black Supreme Court Justice, and his immediate successor, Justice Thomas, according to The Hill’s opinion contributor Carrie Severino:

It includes Justice Marshall’s robe, watch, and iconic glasses, along with photos of Marshall. Behind the robe is an oversize photo of Chief Justice William Rehnquist escorting Justice Thomas as they made their traditional descent down the steps of the Supreme Court on Justice Thomas’s symbolic first day on the job. It also has explanatory panels that discuss the role of the Court in the fight for civil rights.

In October 2016, NMAAHC released a statement explaining its exclusion of Justice Thomas after a petition was launched amid conservative outcy.

“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,” the statement read. “However, we cannot tell every story in our inaugural exhibitions.”

The chief spokesperson for the Smithsonian Institution, Linda St. Thomas, said recently the museum is “evolving and other things will change over time.”

The exhibit, she noted, includes a picture of Thomas, the 1991 cover of Jet magazine on which he appeared and the inscription, “Clarence Thomas: From Seminary School to Supreme Court.”

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