Instead of a traditional Letter from Erika, this month Erika shares the text she wrote for the Museum Association of New York’s priority request to the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus’ 2024 People’s Budget.
Priority Item #1: NY250: Tell the Whole Story
In 2026, our nation will mark the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Ten of the original thirteen states along with 25 others have fully seated, active commissions, New York remains without. New York needs a commission and legislative action that will promote this opportunity as a priority and will allocate funding so that museums, historical societies, historic sites, and historic battlefields can begin to share their cultural resources with their communities and beyond. We must take this opportunity to welcome and incorporate equally the stories of Indigenous Nations, BIPOC, and new Americans.
Chapter 732 (signed by the Governor on 12/2021) acknowledges that “American Revolution itself was imperfect and many, including women, African Americans, and Native Americans, did not benefit from its ideals of liberty and freedom. However, the struggle to fully realize the ideals of the Revolution has continued over the past 250 years as is evident in New York's leading role in such revolutionary civil rights movements as the women's rights and abolitionist movements, the underground railroad, and the LGBTQ movement.”
The legislation requires a special commission to develop and deliver a strategic plan to the governor about New York's celebrations within one year of member appointments. Until the commission is fully seated and funded, the preliminary work of a strategic plan cannot begin. This delay may cause New York to lose national recognition of our prominent place in the American Revolution and a chance to tell the full story of New York’s role in the development of American democracy.
Speaker Heastie appointed the Vice-President of MANY’s Board of Directors, Dr. Georgette Grier-Key, Eastville Community Historical Society, Executive Director and Curator, to serve on New York State’s 250th Commemoration Commission. She is eager to work with the commission to help ensure that as many voices and stories as possible are represented in the commemorative activities.
The Museum Association of New York helps shape a better future for museums and museum professionals by uplifting best practices and building organizational capacity through advocacy, training, and networking opportunities. With 755 members representing museums of every discipline and budget size, from every county, we know that New York’s museums, historic sites, and historical societies are already working with their communities to expand our notions of whose history is worth honoring and remembering. They are ready to make history relevant to all of our communities and acknowledge the accomplishments and sacrifices of those who have fought for civil rights and our democracy, whether 250, 25, or 5 years ago. They recognize the structural deficits and inequities of the more traditional origin stories of our nation and with dedicated funding, are ready to shape an identity for New York that reflects those diverse stories in time for the America250 commemoration.
The support of the Caucus in this effort will be essential to its success.