Oprah leads black celebrities in drive to set up African-American museum on Washington Mall

Clothes worn by protesters in the March on Washington in 1963, chains from the slave ships that came from Africa, and photographs of lynchings in the Deep South are among the items to be displayed in a national American museum dedicated to black history.

The chat-show host Oprah Winfrey, the music producer Quincy Jones and Bob Johnson, founder of the Black Entertainment Channel, are among a group of high-profile black Americans leading efforts to raise funds for the museum, which is likely to find a home on Washington's Mall.

Plans to build such a museum have long been hampered by lack of money, lack of interest and an undercurrent of racism. But decades after the plan was first proposed, Congress has finally given its approval and the group of black celebrities is poised to launch a drive to raise $250m (£133m) to help fund the project. The remaining $500m will come from federal funds.

Brenda Jones, a spokeswoman for a Georgia Congressman, John Lewis, who has led the effort to establish the museum, said that the time it had taken "speaks to the dynamics of politics in America and a lack of understanding of African-American history and the width and the breadth of their contribution to American society". She said opponents of the scheme eventually felt that "there was just no reason not to recognise the contribution".

Mr Lewis, a civil rights leader in the 1960s who helped to organise the 1963 march, when hundreds of thousands travelled to Washington in support of voting rights and heard Dr Martin Luther King deliver his "I Have ADream" speech, began campaigning for a museum when he was elected to Congress in 1986. He became aware of a previous effort made by African-American veterans of the US Civil War, and took up the campaign. In every session of Congress between 1988 to 2003 he introduced legislation to fund such a museum. In November 2003, Congress voted to do so. The National Museum of African-American History and Culture will be part of the extensive Smithsonian Institution, which oversees and co-ordinates many leading museums in Washington, including its most recent addition, the National Museum of the American Indian. Officials from the institution are currently deciding where the new museum should be established. Mr Lewis wants it to be on the Mall, its central location symbolic of the integral role of black Americans. Mr Lewis is also adamant that it should be as extensive as possible, covering everything from the slave ships that left Senegal right up to last November's election to the Senate of the black Chicagoan Barack Obama.

The move comes at a time of growing interest in black history. The Chicago-based HistoryMakers project was established three years ago to build a video archive of oral black history. Researchers and producers are aiming to interview more than 5,000 black Americans. Some of those who have been interviewed, such as the singer Harry Belafonte and the actor Danny Glover, are well known. Others, such as Henry Presswood, who played professional baseball when blacks were banned from the major leagues, are known only to specialists.

"I don't know why it has taken so long," said Larry Crowe, one of the HistoryMakers' producers, of the museums project. "It's been a slow process. Around 1991-92 I started to notice there was more about black history appearing in the media, on TV and in movies. But there is still not enough. We have so many good stories to tell, so many lessons to learn."

Patrick Swygert, president of Washington's Howard University, a traditionally black college, said he believed the museum must take a different approach to most. He told USA Today: "When you walk in, it should be a sense of the sweep of American history and the African-American role in the sweep of that history. It should not simply be a history of 'firsts'. When we think of museums we tend to think in the past tense. This, to me, should be a living, breathing place."

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup