More than 30 years after Rep. John Lewis introduced a bill that would lead to the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, federal lawmakers are pushing to open a Smithsonian museum honoring Asian-American history and culture. This month, a bill put forth by Rep. Grace Meng of New York sparked a congressional hearing that highlighted the push for such an institution.
“I remember the excitement and the pride that was felt by so many when the African American museum opened up, and I thought it was amazing to have in our nation’s capital a physical place that housed so much of the history of a community that isn’t always taught to people here in our schools,” Meng told The Hill.
“And I just thought that we should, as the fastest growing community in this country, also have a museum that’s dedicated to our history and culture.”
Within the last year, the spread of COVID-19 has been linked to an uptick in hate crimes targeting the AAPI community. Amid this spike in hate crimes, Meng believes that a Smithsonian museum honoring the impact of Asian-American culture is valuable now more than ever.
“I really felt even more strongly about this during this last year and a half, where so many people in our community have been discriminated against or attacked, and thought that it’s really important that in our nation’s capital we have something dedicated to helping more people learn about our history and culture,” Meng explained.
“I have felt for too long that when people see Asian Americans, they don’t truly view us as Americans. They view us as perpetual foreigners.”