By Leonard E. Colvin Chief Reporter
New Journal and Guide
The National Veterans Coalition (NVC), a group of retired African American service members, are not satisfied with the amount of space the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) has proposed to be used to exhibit the Black military experience.
Officials at the Smithsonian’s NMAAHC, which is scheduled to be opened in 2015, have planned Black military history with rotating themes on the subject. But the NVC said that amount of space is not enough to fully display the African American military experience from the colonial period to present.
The NVC, two years ago, launched a campaign to prod the Smithsonian to expand Black military history in its system, beginning with the proposed Black History Museum under the banner of the Colonel Young Project. Charles Young (March 12, 1864 – January 8, 1922) was the third African American graduate of West Point, the first Black U.S. national park superintendent, first Black military attaché, first Black to achieve the rank of colonel, and highest-ranking Black officer in the United States Army until his death in 1922.
“We would think that a building with 350,000 square feet would devote more than one percent of that space to such an important part of our history,” said Charles Blatcher, III, the NVC Chair, and a retired Navy member.
”We are not trying to be disruptive. But we think that, as a mater of respect that this premier museum of Black history should have a more representative display of Black military history. This is a story which must be told.” Since January, Blatcher, founder/CEO of the National Minority Military Museum Foundation and founder/chairman of the National Veterans Coalition, has been exchanging communications with the NMAAH organizers and Smithsonian officials. Dated February 7, Blatcher and the Colonel Young Project Board dispatched a “position” paper outlining the NVC’s suggestion to resolve the situation.
At the top of the list is allowing the NMAAHC to maintain the proposed 3,000 square foot display gallery with an opening exhibition dedicated to Colonel Young and the Buffalo Soldiers. But Blatcher said the NVC would like to see the Smithsonian create an annex which would provide a larger exhibition of Black Military History. G. Wayne Clough, secretary for the Smithsonian, responded, ”I can assure you that the museum will fulfill that mandate (set by Congress in 2003 to collect, preserve and display Black history). In addition to an exhibition gallery dedicated solely to Black Military History. this important history will also be evidenced throughout the museum.”
For more information about the NVC’s effort, call 510-467-9242 or firstname.lastname@example.org