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83 Diverse Ethnic Leaders Ask President Obama To Create Study Commission for American People Museum


The leaders of 83 national organizations representing 48 diverse American ethnic and minority groups today called on President Obama to create a presidential commission to study establishment of the National Museum of the American People.

“The museum has bipartisan support in Congress,” they said, “and we believe that the creation of the commission will serve as an act of reconciliation in the wake of the election.”

The museum will encompass the story of every American ethnic and cultural group from the first peoples here and those who came from every corner of the world through today. Nowhere is there a museum devoted to telling this full story about the making of the American People.

The ethnic group leaders told the President that the museum “can become a lasting cultural legacy for you and your administration.”

As the President said in his first inaugural address, “We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth ….”

The group leaders signing the letter represent peoples who originally came here from European, African, Hispanic, Asian and Middle Eastern lands as well as Native Americans.

The letter says that the museum will tell “who ‘We the People’ are and where we came from. It will tell when, how and why we came to this land and nation, what each of our groups encountered and how each of us transformed our nation.”

Rep. Jim Moran, D-VA, who introduced a bipartisan resolution in the House last year calling on the President to create a museum study commission, said “the full narrative — who we are as a nation and the many vibrant ethnicities that make up the fabric of the American experience — remains incomplete. This story about the making of the American people — all the people — needs to be told in our nation’s capital.”

Recognizing the current fiscal climate, the Coalition of the National Museum of the American People backing this effort is not seeking federal funding to plan, build or operate the museum.

“The story of the making of the American People will be presented in a dramatic, interactive documentary format,” said Sam Eskenazi, director of the coalition. “The stories of peoples crossing oceans and continents to start new lives are dramatic and compelling. The museum will leave an indelible impression of knowledge and understanding on visitors as they engage with and come to know the full story of the making of the American People.”

The permanent exhibition will be developed and vetted by teams of eminent scholars and its story will be told with force and clarity.

Eskenazi said that “the United States was built by peoples from every land, and these people made this nation the world’s economic, military, scientific and cultural leader. Our nation serves as a beacon for people throughout the world seeking freedom and opportunity.”

The museum’s story could be told in four chapters: The First Peoples: Prehistoric period–1607; The Nation Takes Form: 1607–1820; The Great In–Gathering: 1820–1924; And Still They Come: 1924–present.

“The National Museum of the American People will be at the intersection of every American group’s memory and the history of our nation,” Eskenazi said. “The theme of the museum is embodied by our nation’s original national motto: E Pluribus Unum, from many we are one.”

He said that “both U.S. neighbors, Canada and Mexico, have major national museums in their capitals telling the story of their peoples and they’re the most visited museums in those nations. American visitors will come to learn about their own stories and will learn about all of the others and foreign visitors will come to learn about how people from their countries made our nation what it is and will better understand our incredible diversity. The museum will be a destination for every school group visiting Washington and it would foster learning nationwide.”

The museum could have a variety of components including a national genealogical center, a Center for the Study of the American People, archival and artifact collections, a film center, an education center, and sponsor a variety of museum programs as well as travelling and special exhibitions. It could also be expected to assist state, local and ethnic museums throughout the nation.

Most recent major museums in Washington have started off with a federal commission to study their feasibility. Following a final report by the commission to the President and Congress, the goal will be to have Congress create an entity charged with building the museum and raising all of the money required to build it.



• To interview Sam Eskenazi, ethnic organization leaders who signed the letter or key Congressional supporters: or 202-744-1868.

• For more information about this project, go to

• A 2½ minute video by the Coalition can be found here: E Pluribus Unum.

Letter to President Obama from

Coalition for the National Museum of the American People

November 14, 2012

The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20506

Dear Mr. President:

As the leaders of 83 diverse national organizations representing more than 48 different ethnic and minority groups throughout the United States, we urge you to create a Presidential commission to study the establishment of the National Museum of the American People.

The museum will tell the story of all of the people who were on or came to this land and nation, and who helped make this country the world’s economic, military, scientific and cultural leader. The museum has bipartisan support in Congress and we believe that the creation of the commission will serve as an act of reconciliation in the wake of the election. After all, while we have some political differences, in the end we are all Americans.

The museum will embody our original national motto: E Pluribus Unum – From Many We Are One! In telling the story of the making of the American People, the museum will tell who “We the People” are and where we came from. It will tell when, how and why we arrived in this land and nation, what each of our groups encountered and how each of us transformed our nation. The story begins in the prehistoric period and progresses through waves of migration and immigration to today.

We believe the National Museum of the American People can become a lasting cultural legacy for you and your administration. All Americans will come to learn the story of their own ethnic or minority group, and to learn about all of the others. Foreign visitors will come to better understand our incredibly diverse nation. We propose that no appropriated funds be used to plan, design, build or operate the museum.

A Presidential commission like the one that we’re calling for led to the creation of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, one of the best story-telling museums in the world. Mr. President, we look forward to working with you to realize the National Museum of the American People.

Thank you for your consideration.


Coalition for the National Museum of the American People:

African American

Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq., National Chair

National Congress of Black Women

Roy C. Brooks. Chairman

National Organization of Black County Officials

Albanian American

Ferit E. Nazarko, National President

Albanian American National Organization

American Indian

Jacqueline Johnson Pata, Executive Director

National Congress of American Indians

Danny J. Garceau, SAIGE Chairman

Society of American Indian Government Employees

Kitcki Carroll, Executive Director

United South and Eastern Tribes

Arab American

Dr. James Zogby, President

Arab American Institute

Armenian American

Rita Balian, President & CEO

Armenian American Cultural Organization

Anita Anserian, Director

Armenian General Benevolent Union

Asian Pacific American

Ruby G. Moy, President & CEO

Asian American & Pacific Islander Association of Colleges and Universities

Lan Le, Chairperson

Asian Pacific American Cultural Arts Foundation

Gregory A. Cendana, Executive Director

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO & APALA Education Fund

Bonnie Wong,President

Asian Women In Business

Brad Baldia, National President and CEO

National Association of Asian American Professionals

Tom L. Hayashi, Executive Director


Basque American

Valerie Arrechea, President

North American Basque Organizations

Belarusan American

Anna Surmacova, President

Belarusan American Association

Bosnian American

Admir Serifovic, Esq., President

The Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bulgarian American

Stanimir Alexandrov, Esq.,

Vice President

Bulgarian-American Society

Carpatho-Rusyn American

Karen Varian, Co-Chair

Carpatho-Rusyn Consortium of North America

John J. Righetti, National President

Carpatho-Rusyn Society

Chinese American

Carolyn Hong Chan, National President

Chinese American Citizens Alliance

Czech American

Tom Dine, President

American Friends of the Czech Republic

Dutch American

Angela Molenaar, Executive Director

The Netherland-America Foundation

English American

John C. Harvey, President

John Shannon, Executive Director

St. George's Society of New York

Estonian American

Marju Rink-Abel, President

Estonian American National Council

Filipino American

Ed Navarra, Chairman

National Federation of Filipino American Associations

Finnish American

Anita Häkkilä Smiley, President

Finlandia Foundation National

French American

Rhea Cote Robbins, Executive Director

Franco-American Women's Institute

Georgian American

Mamuka Tsereteli, President

Georgian Association in the United States

German American

Dr. Don Heinrich Tolzmann, President

German-American Citizens League

Marc Wheat, President

German-American Heritage Foundation of the USA

Beverly A. Pochatko, President

German American National Congress (DANK)

Robert Land, National Chairman

Steuben Society of America

Greek American

Basil N. Mossaidis, Executive Director, Order of AHEPA

American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association

Hispanic American

Al Gallegos, National President

National Association of Hispanic Federal Executives

Hungarian American

Frank Koszorus, Jr., President

American Hungarian Federation

Indian American

Rajen S. Anand, Past President

National Federation of Indian American Associations

Iranian American

Saghi Modjtabai, Executive Director

Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans

Irish American

Brendan Moore, National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Thomas J. Burke, Jr., National President

Irish American Unity Conference

Sean MacManus, President

Irish National Caucus

Italian American

Aileen Riotto Sirey, Founder, Chair Emerita

National Organization Of Italian American Women

Philip R. Piccigallo, Ph.D., CEO

Order Sons of Italy Foundation

Japanese American

Jim J. Yamashita, Educational Project Manager

Americans of Japanese Ancestry

World War II Memorial Alliance

Susan Uyemura, CEO

Japanese American Living Legacy

Jewish American

Richard T. Foltin, Esq. Director of National and Legislative Affairs

American Jewish Committee (AJC)

Mark Hetfield, President & CEO

Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society

Korean American

Chong H. Choe, Board Chair

Korean American Coalition – National

Laotian American

Sourichanh Chanthyasack, MBA, CEO

Laotian American National Alliance

Latvian American

Anita Batarags, President

American Latvian Association in the United States

Lithuanian American

Sigita Simkuviene-Rosen

President, National Executive Committee

Lithuanian-American Community

Saulius V. Kuprys, President

Lithuanian American Council

Macedonian American

Pavlina Proevska, Executive Director

Macedonian Arts Council

Metodija A. Koloski, President

United Macedonian Diaspora

Norwegian American

Marit Kristiansen, International President

Sons of Norway

Polish American

Frank J. Spula, President

Polish American Congress

Portuguese American

Jorge Fernandes, President

Portuguese American Cultural Society Of Palm Beach

Fernando Rosa, Chairman

The Portuguese-American Leadership Council of the United States

Russian American

Elizaveta Filatova, Founder

American Association of Russian Women

Natalie G. Sabelnik, President

Congress of Russian Americans

Dr. Regina Khidekel, AICA, Executive Director

The Russian American Cultural Center

Dr. Olga Zatsepina, President

Russian American Cultural Heritage Center

Salvadoran American

Carlos H. Vaquerano, Executive Director

Salvadoran-American Leadership

and Educational Fund

Scottish American

Alan L. Bain, President Emeritus

American-Scottish Foundation

Scott Morrison, President

An Comunn Gàidhealach Ameireaganach

The American Scottish Gaelic Society

Gus Noble, President

Chicago Scots

Susan L. McIntosh, President

Council of Scottish Clans & Associations

Timothy S. Cooke, USAR (ret.), National Commander

Scottish-American Military Society

Sikh American

Jasjit Singh, Executive Director

Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund

Sapreet Kaur, Executive Director

Sikh Coalition

Swedish American

Philip J. Anderson, President

Swedish-American Historical Society

William Lundquist, Grand Master

Vasa Order of America

Swiss American

Ally Ayse Gunduz, Founder/Director

Swiss-American Council of Women

Taiwanese American

Terri J. Giles, Executive Director

Formosa Foundation

Bob Wu, National President

Taiwanese American Citizens League

Chung Nan Shih, Ph.D., President

Taiwanese Association of America

Thai American

Thanit Thangpijaigul, President

Thai Alliance in America

Turkish American

Ergün Kirlikovali, PresidentAssembly of Turkish American Associations

G. Lincoln McCurdy, President

Turkish Coalition of America

Ukrainian American

Tamara Olexiy, President

Ukrainian Congress Committee of America

Vietnamese American

Nguyen Dinh Thang, Ph.D., Executive Director

Boat People SOS

Trinh Nguyen, Executive President

National Congress of Vietnamese Americans


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