Long Road to Hard Truth: The 100-Year Mission to Create the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Robert L. Wilkins. Proud Legacy, $26.99 (144p) ISBN 978-0-9979104-0-7
In this comprehensive yet refreshingly brisk account, Wilkins, a former public defender, relates the drive to establish the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The process spanned decades of pervasive racism, wars and economic crises, and dismissive, hostile, and ineffective Congresses. It’s a journey riddled with false starts and full stops, which Wilkins traces from its earliest notions—a 1916 effort to erect a memorial to honor black soldiers—to President Obama’s speech at the 2012 groundbreaking ceremony. Throughout, Wilkins weaves the personal story of his “foolhardy” involvement in advocating for a museum dedicated to black history, culture, and contributions “in America’s front yard.” He peppers the book with little-known history, from the failed government-run Freedmen’s Bank, which lost and did not reimburse former slaves’ savings, to the changing designs of and bureaucratic squabbles over the National Mall. The museum also had surprisingly diverse array of proponents, including Mary McLeod Bethune, James Baldwin, John Glenn, George W. Bush, John Lewis, Rick Santorum, and Cecily Tyson. Wilkins occasionally gets bogged down in minutiae, but he delivers a passionate narrative of the struggle to honor and share the complex and powerful stories of African-American people. (BookLife)
Reviewed on: 02/13/2017
Release date: 09/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-0-9979104-1-4
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