New Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch Recalls Uncomfortable Tour Of The African American Museum With Trump

Kevin Mwanza
Written by Kevin Mwanza
Smithsonian
Lonnie Bunch, right, is the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, pictured here on May 28, 2019. Bunch is the 14th secretary and first African American to lead the Smithsonian. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik). President Donald Trump toured the museum with Dr. Ben Carson, Feb. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

In his upcoming memoir, Lonnie Bunch III, founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, describes an unforgettable private tour he gave President Donald Trump in January 2017.

Bunch is the newly appointed secretary of the Smithsonian. He disclosed disturbing details about Trump in his upcoming memoir, “A Fool’s Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Age of Bush, Obama and Trump“.

Tour with the Smithsonian secretary

Trump, who had not taken office yet, wanted to visit the museum on the holiday commemorating the birthday of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., according to the memoir. That day fell on Jan. 16, 2017 — just four days before Trump’s inauguration.

Bunch was against the idea of closing down the museum to the public on such an important day. Another date was chosen.

Before the president-elect arrived, his aides told Bunch that Trump “was in a foul mood and that he did not want to see anything ‘difficult'”, Bunch writes, according to the Washington Post.

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During the tour, Trump told his guide “You know, they love me in the Netherlands” as they paused in front of a display on Dutch involvement in the slave trade.

“I was so disappointed in his response to one of the greatest crimes against humanity in history,” Bunch wrote.  “Here was a chance to broaden the views and the understanding of the incoming president and I had been less successful than I had expected.”

The president later wrote on Twitter that the day had been “amazing”.

Trump was accompanied on the tour by Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who is featured in the museum and who had been nominated to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Sen. Tim Scott and King’s niece Alveda King joined Trump and Carson on the tour.