A petition launched to include Clarence Thomas in the African American Museum of History and Culture prompts a response from the Smithsonian.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has thrived as the second Black person to be appointed to the position and a new petition wants to make sure his accomplishments are celebrated alongside his peers in the country's newest ode to African-American history.
The petition, launched by Virginia resident Megan Thomas, calls for the inclusion of Justice Thomas in the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History And Culture. "Justice Clarence Thomas is the second black man to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court and a steadfast conservative who protects our closely held freedoms," the petition reads. "He has established himself as one of the brightest legal minds of his generation, yet the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture fails to include any mention of his numerous accolades."
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Thomas, who is not related to the justice in any way, then goes on to highlight some of the reasons why she believes he has been excluded from the museum.
"It is obvious politics is what kept Justice Thomas out of the museum," she continued. "For years, he has been shunned by the liberal black community since he has spoken out against affirmative action. He has written that affirmative action amounts to racial discrimination, and detailed how it worked against him when he was trying to find work as a lawyer. Curators at the museum singled out Thomas due to his unique views on race and his conservative thought that the federal government is the greatest threat to our individual liberties."
A representative for the Smithsonian addressed the issue in a statement to CNS News last Tuesday, noting they did not specifically single out Thomas to exclude. "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 reads. "However, we cannot tell every story in our inaugural exhibitions."
The petition is not the first time the Smithsonian's failure to include Justice Thomas has been called into question, however, many have spoken out both for and against the exclusion. Thomas has faced highly-publicized criticism after a private FBI interview with attorney and his former employee Anita Hill was leaked in 1991 around the time of his confrimation hearing. In the telling interview, Hill alleged that Thomas sexually harassed her during her time as his employee. Although multiple other women were reportedly prepared to corroborate Hills' claims, they were never called to testify. The controversy surrounding Thomas' appointment to the Supreme Court was detailed in the HBO film Confirmation, which premiered back in April.
Thomas has also been an outspoken member of the Republican Party throughout the course of his career and has received backlash for his conservative views on several sensitive topics, including abortion and LBGT rights.
The petition has garnered over 7,300 signatures so far.