The National Museum of African American History and Culture celebrates its one-year anniversary in Washington, D.C. Sept. 23–24. The idea of a national African American museum in Washington was first proposed by Black Civil War veterans in 1915. In 1929, President Calvin Coolidge would sign legislation paving the way for museum to be built. It took many stops and starts before the process of putting a museum together finally began in 2003. The below article relays a letter President Coolidge sent to a Harlem church praising African American’s historic progress since the end of slavery.
Letter Read in Harlem Church Says Race Has Right to Feel Proud
Jan. 24, 1924

New York, Jan. 3—“The marvelous progress which the colored race in America has made since it achieved liberty” brought the congratulations of President Coolidge in a letter read Sunday at an Emancipation Day celebration in the Salem Methodist Episcopal Church.

The letter, addressed to Cleveland G. Allen of the Harlem Home News read:

“This occasion is a most appropriate one for a survey of the marvelous progress which the colored race in America has made in the historically very brief time since it achieved liberty. It has been said often, but is so true that it is worth repeating many more times, that there is no historic record of such accomplishment by a race of people in so brief a period.

“Measured by their material achievement in the acquisition of property and substance; or by their advance in education and equipment for the full duties of citizenship; or by their participation in the great task of building and defending the Nation of which they are a part, the colored people of the United States have made a record which they may well regard with profound satisfaction and the utmost gratitude.”