Critics on Excluding Clarence Thomas From New African American Museum: ‘Real Discrimination,’ ‘Racist, Intolerant and Hateful’

By Penny Starr | October 26, 2016 | 5:06pm EDT

Supreme Court Associate Justice

Clarence Thomas.  (AP)  

( – The new National African American Museum of History and Culture does not include some prominent black men and women in its exhibits, including Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Critics of the exclusion expressed irony that a museum dedicated to telling the African American story has chosen to omit certain blacks, despite their success and the significant role they play in that story.

“The fact that the Smithsonian Museum has chosen to leave [Thomas] out of the African American Museum underscores a sad truth about the American Left,” Bishop E.W. Jackson, founder and president of Stay True To America’s National Destiny (STAND), told “They are the most racist, intolerant and hateful people in our country today.”

“If liberal elites had a modicum of intellectual integrity, they would tell the story of Clarence Thomas just as they do that of Justice Thurgood Marshall,” Jackson said. “It is a tribute to the greatness of our country that two very different men of different philosophical dispositions could both rise to prominence.”

“Perhaps when we've relieved the African American Museum from the stranglehold of the Left, it can tell the history - including the ideological diversity - of America's citizens of African descent,” Jackson said.

“It’s appalling and disgraceful for the National Museum of African American History and Culture to ignore the accomplishments of Justice Clarence Thomas and other black conservatives while celebrating liars and radicals like Anita Hill, Black Lives Matter, and Angela Davis,” the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson told

“This is real discrimination being perpetrated by black and white liberals against black conservatives,” he said.

“The liberals practicing this form of discrimination are the same people who are quick to cry and falsely accuse whites of discrimination,” said Peterson, who is also an author, talk-radio host and founder of BOND.

“This is not about race; it’s about rewriting history and burying the truth about black success,” Peterson said. “White liberals are allowed to discriminate against black conservatives and diminish their accomplishments.”

“The people in charge of the museum are not interested in portraying history accurately,” he said. “They only care about advancing a liberal Democratic political agenda that reinforces the lie that black Americans cannot succeed without government programs.”

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson.  (AP) 

In a recent commentary in the Washington Post on the museum’s decision to exclude Thomas, Armstrong Williams called Thomas “one of the most important figures of the post-civil rights era.”

“Thomas, whose compelling personal journey from humble roots in Pin Point, Ga., to the nation’s highest court, helped to pave the way for many black Americans — including President Obama — who rose to power after him,” Armstrong wrote.

“No matter your view of Thomas’s conservative politics, it is simply undeniable that his record of jurisprudence on the Supreme Court over the past 25 years makes him one of the most important black figures of the post-civil rights era,” Armstrong wrote. “While Thomas has not presented himself as a ‘race’ leader per se — he’s much like Obama in that regard — the very fact that he wields the quiet power of the court and helps to settle so many of the nation’s most contentious and complex legal controversies cements his place in African American history.”

“It is something of an irony, then, that Thomas was left out of the African American Museum because of what can only be his principled dissent from the political orthodoxy of today’s African American leadership,” Armstrong wrote. “By erasing Thomas in this way, however, the curators of the museum have done a grave disservice to the legacy of the African American experience in this country.”

Armstrong Williams.  (AP) 

“And by denying Thomas a rightful place among the pantheon of African American achievers and strivers, they also deny themselves the very legitimacy they are seeking by erecting a monument in the heart of the nation’s capital,” Armstrong wrote.

Attorney Mark Paoletta was a member of the George H. W. Bush’s White House Counsel’s office where he worked on Justice Thomas's confirmation. He is also the creator of the website, which provides information about Thomas's career and legacy.

“I could cite many conservative scholars and professors praising Justice Thomas,” Paoletta said in a recent article published by The Hill on the museum and Thomas’ absence. “But many liberal scholars have joined Onwuachi-Willig in recognizing the significance of his jurisprudence.”

“Tom Goldstein, a well-respected liberal Supreme Court lawyer and founder of the SCOTUS blog, has written: ‘No other member of the Court is so independent in his thinking ….  I disagree profoundly with Justice Thomas’s views on many questions, but if you believe that Supreme Court decision-making should be a contest of ideas rather than power, so that the measure of a Justice’s greatness is his contribution of new and thoughtful perspectives that enlarge the debate, then Justice Thomas is now our greatest Justice.’”

“Similarly, Mark Tushnet, a well-regarded law professor who was a very vociferous Thomas opponent when he first went on the bench, wrote in his 2005 book, A Court Divided, that ‘what [Thomas] has done on the Court is certainly more interesting and distinctive than what Scalia has done and, I think, has a greater chance of making an enduring contribution to constitutional law.’”

“Unfortunately, by ignoring the contributions of Justice Thomas, the National Museum of African American History and Culture implies that there’s no room for a black man who dares to challenge conventional wisdom of the Left,” Paoletta wrote. “It also ensures that visitors will learn nothing about one of our nation’s most significant jurists.”

“Surely a museum that ‘seeks to understand American history through the lens of the African American experience’ should be more diverse than that,” Paoletta wrote.

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