A Noose at the Smithsonian Brings History Back to Life

Jun 23, 2017 · 252 comments
Robert Allen (California)
Cowards. I would suggest leaving that stain where it is and date it so everyone can see it and hopefully get a better sense of what is happening in 2017; this terrible time in history.

I am so sorry.
"[lynching] continued from the 1880s until after the end of World War I..." What a strange thing to say.
J L. S. (Alexandria Virginia)
I am deeply saddened by these noose events that appear to be happening so frequently these days with the recent rise of the alt-right. The elephant in the room however, appears to me to be the racist activity that is rarely thwarted by the President and even flourishes, and is enhanced, under his leadership!
KTH (Houston, TX)
The apologists for whoever left the noose at the museum astound me, but they shouldn't. Given the results this week from the trials of two policemen indicted for the commission of state sponsored murder I can take it as par for the course in the USA.
John Grillo (Edgewater,MD)
The noose is but a pathetic and powerless response to the majesty of the Museum, decades overdue, but now at last claiming its rightful place on the Mall to tell the core American story of overwhelming suffering met by amazing endurance, success, love and grace. Pity the stealth noose-provider, acting from a troubled place of desperation and fear, unable to accept or cope with that historic, moral arc inexorably bending toward justice.
Jose Habib (NYC)
Has a single one of these things turned out not to be a hoax yet?
AC (Minneapolis)
Yes, this is the exact right response to this thoughtful, informative piece. Doubts about veracity. Bravo, Jose. A real winner.
bka (Milwaukee)
Can we ever hope to become better than we have been and better than we are now? Sometimes it just feels that hate has the upper hand. Our recent politics only makes me feel more pessimistic. When we have a president who openly invites discrimination and hate of "others", how can we get better?
Joe M (Los Gatos, CA)
If this had happened years ago we could have passed off the nooses as the work of some misguided soul who lives in a world of isolation and falsehood.

Unfortunately, our country has just bought stock in a huge way in a "division makes us stronger" ethos. This is not the work of a single group of madmen. It is the emergence of the means to spread frightening ideas at the speed of light to entire million-person swaths of the global population in anonymity - and the unwillingness of our people to engage their higher brain functions to recognize the difference between fact and fiction, entertainment and information.

We are regressing as a people.

I suppose this could have been, and was predicted by soothsayers of the past.

I want to say that we simply cannot accept this behavior - but that is a minority viewpoint undone by those who would use the electronic platform to support me.

We need to get back to being people. Surrounded by all this technology and bandwidth - we need to reestablish our humanity and remember that those moment that make us feel good and proud to be us - Dr. King's speech on the mall, Neil Armstrong on the moon, FDRs speech on fear, our own child's birth and graduation - these things we value because we are human and we are us.

We have got to regain our humanity. But given the current political climate, it seems it will be a very long climb.
"If this had happened years ago we could have passed off the nooses as the work of some misguided soul who lives in a world of isolation and falsehood." First off, who is "we"? The Black American community wasn't passing off nooses or regarding white terrorist as people living in isolation and falsehood. The nation but it's great weigh behind slavery, Jim Crow, white terrorism, segregation and white supremacy. Sounds more like you're living in a world of isolation and falsehood.
planetary occupant (earth)
Distressing symptom of the current state of affairs in this country.

I'm a supporter of the Smithsonian and of its American Indian and African American museums. This is one reason why. We seem to need continuing reminders of the mistakes in our country's past.
Evan Puziss (Los Angeles, CA)
The noose should not have been removed. It should have been made another exhibit.
Ike (Texas)
The problem with something like that is we have no idea who left the noose. Unfortunately here lately people in the black Comunity have been caught faking racist incidents. This does a huge disservice to the Comunity because it brings in to question every act of racism that is not witnessed or filmed.
Robert McConnell (Oregon)
In my humble opinion, they should have displayed the noose in the museum with full details, which should shame any sensible American.
blackmamba (IL)
The best 'museum' exhibit location for this noose would be the Oval Office of our White House.

In my humble opinion Donald Trump should make the request and then deliver an address to the nation.
Ike (Texas)
I pretty sure that the point of any museum is not to shame but to educate and prevent. I am not saying that is was not a shameful act because it was but it is more important to point out to people why this is wrong and also educate them on how to prevent further acts of racism in the future.
TS (U)
I have a legitimate question. Please don't roast me... If someone was caught placing a noose in one of these places what would they be charged for exactly?
N.Smith (New York City)
How about 'Bad taste'??? -- it's not a criminal charge, I know, but it still seems fitting enough.
Steve (Washington, DC)
How about charging the person with a hate crime?
Ike (Texas)
Completely legit question. I Imagine they would probably be charged with something like vandalism.
Mikejc (California)
The 23 million figure is a gross misrepresentation. The footnote on this in the CBO report clarifies that figure. It is not people who will lose healthcare. It is only people whose new policy will not exactly match all the benefits, many of them not needed by the policy holder at all, of the ACA policy they formerly had. Meaning, men who do not need pregnancy coverage are counted as "losing" their healthcare if their new policy does cover this as their ACA did--unnecessarily and larding up the cost. A very deceptive 23 million figure, and likely on purpose. No where near 23 million will actually "lose" care.
Purple patriot (Denver)
We should resist the temptation to condemn at nation of 320 million people based on the actions of one individual. The haters and fools have always been there and probably always will be. The rest of us should continue to be decent people and thoughtful citizens, and try to do some good in the world.
Robert (Seattle)
"Purple patriot" writes, "We should resist the temptation to condemn at [sic] nation of 320 million people based on the actions of one individual. ... The rest of us should continue to be decent people and thoughtful citizens, and try to do some good in the world."

My condemnation is reserved for Mr. Trump who has made use time and again of symbols of hate, and for his supporters who voted for him either because they agree with those symbols of hate or because they felt such symbols of hate were not unacceptable. How many such individuals does it take to elect a president?
Ed (Old Field, NY)
Yes and no. If someone literally doesn’t care whether you live or die, I’m not overly interested in what he’s thinking. I’m not devoting any of my time to it.
Ted Morgan (New York)
On college campuses, these acts of vandalism turn out to be hoaxes in the majority of cases, planted by activists trying to create the illusion of rampant racism. Absent evidence that a white supremacist planted the noose, I'm not sure I can accept the conclusions of this editorial. The vandalism is, after all, very convenient for the left, creating national coverage vilifying conservatives.
sam (boston)
Who is the person(s) whom left the noose? This seems key to the underlying thrust of the argument here.
roccha (usa)
Sam, not sure what language you speak at home, and i have no way of checking your citizenship status, but when we speak in American, a.k.a. as English, its "who left the noose." Or, "to whom does this noose belong". I would refer you to a basic Jr. High grammar text, like Warriner's, if you want to someday get to native level proficiency in American.
Robert (Seattle)
Thank you for writing this, Dr. Bunch. It is pertinent and timely. During the election, Mr. Trump and his supporters gave us many "symbols of hate." Were those symbols important or influential?

Research now tells us that racial resentment was more important than economic anxiety for Trump voters. Thomas Edsall wrote about this in yesterday's NY Times.

For example, Trump voters:
"Disagree that blacks should get special treatment and are disadvantaged by the legacy of slavery."

"Believe government and police treat blacks better; feel they have too much influence in politics."

So much for the story that the election was about economics. Trump voters were largely motivated by their race-based, i.e., racist, feelings about blacks and other minorities.

Were Trump's "symbols of hate" important and influential? Did they matter for his voters? Now we know. Beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Garz (Mars)
Perhaps someone should have left a pistol to remind us of the gun violence and murder in the 'hood'.
mluce3m7cc (Kansas City)
Garz, that comment is heartless, thoughtless, and cruel.
N.Smith (New York City)
It's quite possible that you are the only person who would need such a reminder, as anyone with a modicum of intelligence is already aware of the problem.
J. Faye Harding (Mt. Vernon, NY)
Or they could have left opioids and assault weapons to remind of us gun violence and drug use in West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama and the rest of the confederate states.
jonhilbert (Chico, CA)
The museum should set up a display with a noose that should remain as a constant reminder that racism did not die with the election of Obama (Boy, was I wrong about that!) and is still the cancer that appears to be ineradicable as parents simply pass their hatred on the their children.
Tina (Ohio)
I happen to agree. Visual representations hit the senses HARD. That's why the Holocaust museum doesn't shy away from all the atrocities committed by the Nazis. The shoes... actual shoes taken from Jews before being executed in the gas chamber... the visual and sensory impact is haunting. If shoes can cause that, a noose could wake a lot of ppl up.
Brian Hogan (Fontainebleau, France)
Speaking of the Holocaust Museum, I think it very revealing that a Holocaust museum was opened in the U.S. before a museum on Black American history and slavery. As if we are more at ease condemning Nazism and commemorating the victims of the Holocaust than we are at condemning ourselves and what we did to other Americans. Slaves, you might object, were not citizens. So be it. But Black Americans and their ancestors have been here far longer than the majority of white Americans. And yet, no Slavery museum until very, very recently. Slavery is often referred to as America's Original Sin. How about considering that noose as an act of, well, terrorism?
Erik Rensberger (Maryland)
I haven't been to the Museum yet; is there not an exhibit on lynching?
Cheekos (South Florida)
When I think of this, I can only believe that there is an elegant significance in this purposeful horrific act! Surely, leaving the symbol of Slavery, was intended to intimidate. But, what were those who might have been fearful done: move back to Selma; or, perhaps, accept an even lower percentage of the wages that a white man earns? Tear down the magnificent building that demonstrates the very opposite of what this narrow-minded person had intended?

The ignorance which that noose reflects just demonstrates beliefs that are unbelievable, concepts that are inconceivable, and, of course, goals that would never be realized. In essence, the idiocy, which was displayed by leaving that noose, merely demonstrates the ignorance which Racism, indeed, truly is!


continuousminer (Salt City)
You realize you're giving the perpetrator of these acts exactly what they want by writing this piece.... they want the attention and you're handing right over to them. You shouldn't have written this think piece about the history of black and white racism simply because a person does something stupid... We all know racism still exists in the U.S. Electing a black president and erecting a black museum doesn't change that.
Jonscott Williams (Gilbert, AZ)
There is nothing I've seen in my almost seven decades to support the notion that "all" Americans either know or believe that "racism still exists in the U.S." The assumption that this is true is just as dangerous as the assumption that racism does not exist because of the election of a Black president and the erection of the museum. Neither assumption is either real or helpful in eradication of the mental illness called "racism".
A. Jubatus (New York City)
I get where you're coming from but do tell: what is a "black museum"?
N.Smith (New York City)
Did you bother to read the article?
Rb (Kansas)
I am white from Kansas. I come from a family of Friends (Quakers) and Amish. My parents didn't tolerate racism when I was growing up. Those lessons stuck with me but not my sister. I am ashamed to say my family has mixed views. Though they will swear they are not racist subtle decisions and language say otherwise.
My daughter recently married a man who is of mixed race. There is a stark contrast of how he expects to be treated and how my daughter expects to be treated. This issue has been playing out in our daily lives.
I feel such outrage at the experience that black families have to face everyday. I can't be kind or generous of soul enough to make up for the dead children, mothers, and fathers of black families killed every day in this country. It just seems like a crocodile smile I am offering. As I stand up to family and others against racism it's discounted as being naive.
Racism in America is about money and dominance. I believe that white Christians are the biggest offenders of all. Everytime I see another child on the news shot by law enforcement I feel sick and powerless. Then the courts let the perpetrators go so the families can't even have justice. Black families stand up to the worst America has to offer everyday and yet they soldier on. I don't know how they deal with it. I take so much for granted being white in America. We need to own this truth of prejudice we have created. It will take all of us to take responsibility and end this madness.
Domenick Zero (Indiana)
Yes there is a great divide in the USA. Half of the country hates what the country has become and wants to go back to a time when non-whites knew their place and the wealthy did not have to waste their money on poor people who will never learn. The other half accepts that social justice and equality for all is part of the very fabric of our country and the underpinning of what makes American Great. One half understands that demographics is not on their side and the only way for whites to stay in power is through inhuman immigration policies, intimation and voter suppression. Half of the country is stupid selfish where they are willing to suffer the consequences of their selfishness and tribalism with more social unrest and crime. The other half is smart selfish and willing to pay higher taxes for the greater social good and willing to accept that even if we don’t all look the same or think the same we are all in this together and stronger for it. This truly is the great battle for the very soul of our country!
George S (New York, NY)
"Half of the country hates what the country has become and wants to go back to a time when non-whites knew their place...". Really? I don't know where you arrived at that conclusion. Certainly we still have (and likely always will have) racists amongst us, but the tiresome trope that half the country or some such figure wants to return to the days of Jim Crow is absurd and not based on actual demonstrable proof (rather than emotional extrapolation and theorizing).
N.Smith (New York City)
Here's a hint at how one might have come to that conclusion: For starters, read the CV of Jeff Sessions.
And then don't forget that Donald Trump was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan during his presidential campaign.
If that doesn't convince you, the rest can be found in any American History book...or just go to the Museum.
elissaf (bflo)
i am awed by the author's determination and commitment. Reading about nooses left at the Smithsonian (an act of terrorism, if there ever was one) makes me feel physically ill and mentally ready to give up on humanity.
Jb (Ok)
Never give up. It's always been a fight, and always worth it. Anything good we've built has been through struggle.
SM (Tucson)
Sorry, but it strains credulity to think that a single noose, much less three of them, could be left in the most recently-opened of the Smithsonian museums, every inch of its exhibit space covered by surveillance cameras, and yet there is not a shred of evidence as to who is responsible. This is almost certainly yet another of a long string of politically-motivated hoaxes commited by 'anti-racists'. It is no coincidence that the hoax occurred in a museum that could not bear to say the name "Clarence Thomas".
N.Smith (New York City)
If anything strains credulity, it's your theory of "politically-motivated hoaxes commited by 'anti-racists'"committing this act.
And just for the record.
I too, cannot bear to say the name "Clarence Thomas", and I'm probably not alone in this.
George S (New York, NY)
N.Smith, are you denying that we have seen an increased number of such false allegations (whether about racism, Islamaphobia, homophobia, etc.) in recent years? It has happened on campuses, in public places, stores, religious establishments.
The Old Netminder (chicago)
Why is theory so far-fetched? It has played out over and over at campuses. Noose or note found. Protests, outrage over "climate of fear." College administors fall over themselves to denounce. Cancel classes. Found to be a hoax. Adminstrators try to backpedal, declare, "nevertheless, this stands as a reminder as to how divided we are and how far we have to go." It has almost been predictable, that when some stereotypical "racist" signal, like a noose, or a note that says "Go back to Africa," it is a staged act by a member of the aggrieved group.
O'Brien (Airstrip One)
Those of us with a modicum of memory will recall that the huge wave of anti-Semitic bomb threats to Jewish institutions in 2016-17 were discovered to have been largely carried out by a Jewish young man in Israel, and an African-American leftist in the Midwest. We also recall no apology made to the President or to the right-of-center people for creating a "climate of hate" that was proved to be ephemeral.

It is possible that this attack is racially motivated. Recent history with the bomb threats shows it is also possible that it is now. Let's not make assumptions. Complete the investigation, then write the Op-Ed. This one is far too premature.
Tom (Irvine)
I thought I knew why this museum was built. Now I know why we need it.
The Old Netminder (chicago)
Sorry, but if you open your eyes and review these incidents, more times than not they are frauds.
Steve (Long Island)
The noose card as it were is an old democrat dirty trick. Leave a noose and blame the republicans. We has seen it before. Time to move on.
Holly (Seattle)
You must not have read it. There is no mention of republicans or democrats in this article, nor of left or right, conservative or progressive. Please do not create new divisions. We already have enough.
J. Faye Harding (Mt. Vernon, NY)
How very big of you Steve to tell POC to move on when this kind of evil is still being perpetuated. Are you also advising those white supremacist in southern states to move on from their monuments, noose hangings and cross burning?
colettecarr (Queens)
Long Island, NY one of the most segregated areas in this country. I grew up in LI in Nassau County. Up until the 80s, Black and those Hispanics who could not pass for white could only live in three areas, Lakeview, Hempstead and Roosevelt and specially designated areas for the help in a few areas by the railroad tracks. I am guessing you know all about this, don't you.
Number23 (<br/>)
A great reminder of the strength and fortitude of so many African Americans over the years to continue to believe in this country and to persevere in the face of continued insult and degradation. I'm humbled by their strength. After this last election, which placed a vulgarian, liar and narcissist, backed by an undercurrent of white supremacy, in the white house, I found it almost impossible to summon the least amount of pride or respect for my country, having seen everything I cherished about it rejected by the masses. It's devastating to lose your love of country, to be stripped of your patriotism, even for an election cycle. Can't imagine a lifetime of it.
Beth Cioffoletti (Palm Beach Gardens FL)
I am horrified. White supremacy is the deepest stain on the American soul and it continues to rear its ugly head. Until we can acknowledge this evil and atone for these sins of the past and present (mass incarceration), our country is doomed.
Fortress America (New York)
We have found any number of these events to be hoaxes,planted by the very people they offend, to keep the pain alive.
N.Smith (New York City)
Wait a minute. Are you actually trying to say that Black people are leaving nooses behind, just to keep the "pain alive"???
You have just taken denial to a whole new level.
Thom Moore (Annapolis MD USA)
Sooo, that guy who knifed to death a student in his way on a sidewalk at UMDCP probably was an anti-racist who did that just to keep the pain alive, too, eh?
The Old Netminder (chicago)
Considering how often it has happened, yes. You should do some reading outside of your bubble.
Michael (Williamsburg)
And we have named U.S. Army bases after confederate generals, Fort Lee and Fort Bragg who waged rebellion and killed those defending the Union. There was no article of secession in the American constitution. The Civil War was fought by the south over slavery. Even now Black U.S. Army soldier pass through gates onto bases named after those who enslaved their ancestors. Fort Lee and Fort Hood should be renamed Fort Lincoln and Fort Sherman.

Imagine Germany naming a military base after Hitler or an airbase after Goering. The Allies would not have tolerated that even though it was "history".

I live in Texas and the Alamo is a shrine to slavery. Mexico abolished slavery and whites wanted slaves to grow cotton. So they rebelled. The constitution of the Republic of Texas has extensive sections about the rights of slave owners and the legal definitions of race and slavery. The myth of the Alamo is that Texas freedom was about the freedom to own slaves.

These shameful truths are repeated and accepted as facts. These alternative facts are lies.

Day before yesterday I saw a three foot by five foot confederate flag waving on a pole on the back of a pickup truck.

As a retired military officer who took an oath to protect and defend the constitution this example of free speech is also an intimidating symbol of racial hatred like a noose.
N.Smith (New York City)
The difference between here and Germany is that it's against the law to build ANYTHING with Hitler's (or any other Nazi's) name on it -- and here they still have statues of numerous Confederates, like Robert E. Lee, in the U.S. Capitol Building.
John S. (Anaheim, Ca)
So it’s wrong to have military bases named Fort Lee and Fort Hood because of slavery but it’s not wrong to rename one of those bases after General Sherman, who mass murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in his “march to the sea”?
Colenso (Cairns)
In too many US states, if an enslaved black man, but not a white man, raped a white woman but not a black woman, then according to the Constitution of that state, enshrined not in the rage of the lynch mob but in the sacred law of that state, all the legal forces of the state would come together to ensure that the black man was hung for his crime. And many white American women, and their white husbands, brothers and fathers, believed that this was fair and just.

The colour of a man's skin is what has always mattered most in the Land of the Free and the Brave, and it is what still matters most today.

This, together with the broken treaties with the First Peoples, is the original sin of a nation born in greed, in hatred and in injustice.
hddvt (Vermont)
The person who leaves a noose clandestinely obviously lacks any courage whatsoever.
Alan Chaprack (The Fabulous Upper West Side)
Because racism is dead in America.
N.Smith (New York City)
Wishing for it, does not make it so.
Philo (Scarsdale NY)
Its not even dead on the NYT's moderated web site ! Jeez! Reading some of these messages - to who the entire point of the noose was that it is a liberal, democratic, progressive, anti- republican, anti-white etc etc hoax simply boggles my mind.
Really people? Is that what you think? Are you so threatened in your everyday lives that when confronted with hatred you lash out at the victim?

Starting to understand how Cosby was acquitted ( yes, yes, he is African American - THAT is not the point of his acquittal ! Jeez here we go again! )
William Case (Texas)
We should not forget the past, but we should focus on the present. The nature of interracial violence has changed dramatically since the 1800s and early 1900s. Today, interracial violence is overwhelmingly black-on-white violence, not white-on-black violence. The FBI Uniform Crime Report (Expanded Homicide Data Table 6) shows that 500 blacks murdered whites while 229 whites (including Hispanics) murdered blacks in 2015, the most recent year for which FBI data has been published. Although blacks make up only about 13 percent of the population, they commit nearly 70 percent of interracial murders. Unbalance reporting that creates the false perception that blacks are disproportionately victims of interracial violence seems purposely designed to generate racial animosity within the African American community.

Bill B (NYC)
Blacks are 13.3% of the population while whites (including Hispanics) are 76.9%--a ratio of 1:5.78--but they are 29.3% of the victims of murders that cross the black/white line. In short, you stand a disproportionate chance of being on the receiving end of a black/white murder if you're black.

To attempt to transmute that into a black-on-white problem is pure race-baiting.
Sisters (Somewhere)
A third grader from a prominent girl's private school in UES went to a field trip to where some of the slave actions took place in NY. After explaining how the actions went ... then the teacher ( white female ) turned to her students( mostly white ) and said: do not feel bad because it was a normal business in those days. Then the girls went on gossiping about the non white classmates that this and that could have been slaves if they lived during the time of slavery. Those were third grade and seeing someone and "could have been slave" in their mind and a " normal business " ? It's inserted in many people mind set and african American really have a very long way to go.
Tokujiro (Australia)
I am what might best be described as "pink" - a consequence of growing up Anglo in Australia - out under that clean bright blue sky and bright bright sun! In the days when sun-block, hats and other protection was not seen as important. By my early 20s (nearly a half-century ago - but in some ways too late - skin cancers) I was being more careful. The sad history of US slavery from Africa - the Civil War - the brief flowering of Liberty and its loss (more-or-loss) again into the latter 19th century is somewhat familiar to us in Australia - from movies and television. One of the most poignant instances for me was a speech delivered in the early 1980s to a gathering of New York Writers by Alice Walker - after the initial success of The Color Purple - a reinterpretation of Al Jolson's song "My Mammy" - truly truly moving - even now over 30 years later when I hear her voice speaking those words "I'd walk a million miles for one your smiles, my Mammy..." tears come immediately to my eyes. And yes, the terrible history of the lynchings. So to find some evil-hearted soul (or group) has been dropping nooses in this Museum among other places is at one level disheartening (a kind of permission to do so unleashed by the orange man at the top) - but too it allows us to revisit this era of history and present and use it as an educative instance. Kevin refers to Dr BUNCH - so me, too - you will surely put this into the best of contexts... And best wishes...
William Case (Texas)
Australia practiced a form of forced indentured servitude known as a slavery"blackbirding" that lasted into the 1900s. Tens of thousands of indigenous Australians and natives from the islands surrounding Australia were kidnapped and forced to work for token wages or no wages at all. The "sugar slaves" worked mostly on sugar plantations in Northern Australia.
Tokujiro (Australia)
William: Exactly right - one of any number of shameful episodes in our national history. From around 1860 until 1901 (when all the former colonies became states incorporated into the Federation of the new nation called Australia (Austral=South ~ia=Land/Country) when most of those people were forcibly repatriated. Some remained - variously married into Indigenous families. Faith BANDLER was one of the most famous descendants - a writer (check her books including Welou, My Brother) and quite a number of the most famous of Queensland footballers acknowledge their South Sea Islander ancestral links. I suspect that knowing the injustices perpetrated here against Indigenous peoples, people of minority status - immigrants, refugees, asylum-seekers makes one alert to the same kinds of injustices perpetrated elsewhere - trying to uncover the what and they and the how to bring about positive change from those - politicians and community-deranged who continue to foster hatred - highlighting the different (superficial/cultural) rather than drawing out the similar to celebrate as positives - we are all human beings on this tiny planet - to encourage respect for each other makes us all the stronger. This lynching-referencing noose in the Smithsonian - a cowardly act because clearly the one who did it did not want to be caught - reminds us that we must be ever-vigilant...
Tokujiro (Australia)
...to uncover the what and the why and the how...
PNBlanco (Montclair, NJ)
Let's not forget also, that one of our two major parties, and I don't even need to name it since we all know which, spends a lot of time an energy, and goes to great lengths, to try to find way to suppress the black community from voting; a practice that is also inherited from the Jim Crow South.
common sense advocate (CT)
The noose is the horrific symptom of the disease we need to cure. Starting with midterm elections in 2018, the KKK and their brethren need to feel unwelcome again in the 'white' house, and crawl back under the rocks they came from.

Unify and get out the vote, Dems - the soul of our country depends on it.
Dan Foster (Albuquerque, NM)
As you point, Dr. Bunch, these are, on a most fundamental level, cowardly acts. The perpetrators act under cover of anonymity in an attempt to terrorize, as symbolized by the Klan's use of its hood. They are unwilling to discuss their beliefs in the open, most likely because their ignorance would lead them to a place in the dialogue they could not defend as racism is not defendable. The struggle for racial and social justice continues.
James (Pittsburgh)
"The person who recently left a noose at the National Museum of African American History and Culture clearly intended to intimidate, by deploying one of the most feared symbols in American racial history"

I do not know how Mr Bunch knows the intent was to intimidate but if that is so the perpetrator is not only a racist but also very very stupid. I do not know a single black person who would be intimidated by the noose, angry yes but intimidated no.

What the Noose does show is that racism is alive and well in the USA and probably not going away anytime soon.
Nathaniel Brown (Edmonds, WA)
Some hate-filled coward left a noose? This is not America - but it is a sign of the future, born of a time when half of America refuses to vote and hands the country over to the forces of fear, ignorance and greed. If there is cowardice or hatred or fear in this, if is a reflection of the mass of Americans who stand aside from democracy and let the likes of Trump and McConnel usurp the hopes and dreams American was founded upon.
N.Smith (New York City)
No. This IS America -- and it is its past and present, as much as its future.
That's the sad reality.
gerry (princeton)
What if the noose was a work of art meant to generate the conversation it has created. The history it illustrates has been ignored for far to long.
N.Smith (New York City)
You miss the point.
The entire MUSEUM is there to generate conversation.
Mr. Slater (Bklyn, NY)
I had the pleasure of going to the museum a few weeks ago. You could count the amount of white attendees on one hand. This alone SAYS A LOT.
All you have to do is look at our segregated neighborhoods, churches, schools, portrayals in the media, etc. and see that we still have a along way to go unfortunately.... we blacks that is. Whites (racist or not) are still awarded with unfettered privilege because of their skin color.
Ghost (Light 15)
I just can't be this instantly credulous. Too many similar incidents have been exposed as hoaxes.

The museum cost a quarter billion dollars to build, houses thousands of irreplaceable exhibits, and the nooses (?-the exact number remains unclear) were allegedly placed on Juneteenth, one of the most significant celebrations in the AA community.

And I'm supposed to believe their is no security video footage of this? Bear in mind the Tsarnaev brothers were ID'd through random video surveillance on a Boston street amid thousands of people because they put a bag down.

The article's photo shows that visitors wear pins and wristbands, and the museum's website states that all bags will be checked. To believe this account, I must believe someone smuggled a noose past the guards, or at least enough rope to construct one during museum hours.

Dr. Bunch sidesteps all this, and instead implores us to visit the museum (as summer travel kicks off, coincidentally) as a show of defiance and solidarity.

If this actually happened as described, then it's a damned shame. If it's just a PR stunt, it is doubly so.
The Old Netminder (chicago)
One does wonder--if there is security footage, which seems probable, showing it was not some white racist with the noose--would we ever see it?
Ameena (Washington, DC)
First, you might need to get your facts straight. This noose was left several weeks ago. Juneteenth was just a few days ago. Second, visitors don't have to wear anything special while in the museum. Those photographed were likely part of a small group of visitors who decided to wear the same thing. Visit and experience the museum to see how things work. Third a noose is just a rope - something easy to sneak into a museum. Fourth - it was only one noose. They had to shut down the museum because the noose startled museum visitors - to remove the noose and probably to find out what actually happened. Do you think that they would really inconvenience all of those people and shut things down as a PR stunt? Really it's bad PR for the museum. Think how some might not want to bring their children because of incidents like this. I wonder about the video footage as well - maybe something will come up.
Dale (Troy)
Do you all remember watching Star Trek, and everyone is, like, equal and race is irrelevant (although very few non-humanoid role models are portrayed) and you're thinking almost there...almost there.

And then people go all Cro-Magnon and you realize we're all just as ignorant as we ever were. I can hardly wait to put up a cosmic wall to keep out those thieving Ferengi.
Donna Gray (Louisa, Va)
Shouldn't the author at least mentioned the chance that these acts were 'frauds'? Unfortunately that has occurred more than once, with the later quiet admission that the accuser had actually left the noose them-self. (see Columbia, Duke and American Universities as examples where this occurred).
KJ (Tennessee)
At first I didn't want to read this. The Smithsonian is a national treasure, and every part of it should be treated with respect, no matter what your views.

I would guess that these nooses were left by brats who recognize their own insignificance in the grand scheme of things. Nobodies, who felt powerful for a moment in their ability to offend. And I use the plural because people like that are usually too spineless to act alone. They also like to brag, so a reward for information will bring out their other ratty friends.
Gene (NYC)
I could understand reasons why the Smithsonian wouldn't want to do this, but perhaps worth considering is a display---a prominent display---of the nooses discovered at the museum, along with their dates, and locations. Perhaps the display can be titled "Is racism still with us?"
rkh (binghamton)
I have always maintained that while the Civil War was the end of slavery it was the start of racism. We still have a long way to go.
Thomas (New York)
BuBois, as we all know, wrote that the problem of the twentieth century was the "problem of the color line." I, a white man, have been saying for quite a few years that it is also the problem of the twenty-first, and I am continually surprised, and discouraged, by the number of white people who think I'm wrong, or at least say so. The election of Obama provoked a sharp increase in racist speech and acts, and the election of Trump seems to have encouraged it. I can only hope that some good will come of that: an increased willingness among whites who are not haters to admit that the problem is still very real.
A. Stanton (Dallas, TX)
Leo M. Frank was lynched in Marietta, Georgia on August 17, after being wrongfully convicted of the murder of a 13 year old girl two years earlier.

His real crime was being Jewish.

His murderers included many prominent local citizens, including a former Governor of Georgia, none of whom were ever arrested or punished for the crime.

It is a matter of historical record that Frank and his wife conducted themselves with great dignity and bravery throughout their terrible ordeal.

Frank was ultimately pardoned by the State of Georgia in 1986, in a decision that did not include a full acknowledgement of his innocence, which is still disputed today by some people in Georgia and on the websites of haters of Jews around the country.

“May the Almighty comfort us among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.”

B. (Brooklyn)
And we do know now that Otto Warmbier was Jewish, but that the State Department asked the family to keep their religion quiet, lest the American public lose sympathy for them.
N.Smith (New York City)
And your point is what??? -- And how does this have anything to do with what just happened at the Smithsonian?
sam (boston)
No, this is because North Korea claimed his theft was motivated by the Church and were unaware Me. Warmbier was Jewish; thus undercutting their narrative.
Art HDTV (Montclair, NJ)
I was born five weeks before Emmett Till and lived with the horror and the hope for 75 years.
I suggest that the noose(s) be incorporated into the display - with dates.
HFR (.)
Bunch: "... an exhibition that chronicles America’s evolution from the era of Jim Crow through the civil rights movement."

The museum's web site doesn't seem to have any information about that exhibition.

Bunch: "... lynchings became brutal spectacles, drawing thousands of onlookers who posed for photographs with the lifeless bodies."

In particular, does the museum exhibit any of those photos?
Liberty hound (Washington)
Ever think that this was a false flag operation ... that an African American patron or employee left it there to rile up publicity?

As readers below have noted, very few white people attend the museum, and with high-tech security they surely would stand out and would have been caught.

So, just like the left-wing African-American journalist who calling in bomb threats against Jewish community centers, perhaps this is another false flag operation designed to stoke hate and fear that they can blame on Donald Trump.
Jb (Ok)
So whatever fits your own views, you see as proof and whatever doesn't, you see as false. Can you not see that you have made a hall of mirrors in which you only see yourself, not truth? No, of course you don't--you can't.
elissaf (bflo)
The number of actual hate crimes is up We don't need false flags to be justifiably angry at right wing haters.
TingNa (TX)
". . . very few white people attend the museum . . . "

And therein lies the problem in its entirety.
N.Smith (New York City)
How can anyone be surprised by this? When you have a president who ran on a racist campaign, was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, and paraded himself as the champion of the downtrodded white man -- is it surprising that a noose was left, several times -- just as a reminder...
There is no way to excuse this. The symbolism is too real.
And any dreams one might have had in thinking that we, as a nation, might have moved past our dark racist history, has been shattered by the stark reality that we haven't come that far after all.
And with the current deconstruction of this society among racial, political and socio-economic lines, and the ongoing attack on the Voting Rights Act, and the unending violence in underprivileged communities -- it's highly unlikely anything is going to change, anytime soon.
But still there's the promise that one day, we'll all be free.
Free from the hate. Free from the discrimination. Free from the years of racist indoctrination. Free from the ignorance that keeps us all in chains, and fighting against ourselves.
At last.
Jean Cleary (NH)
Racism is alive and well in this country as evidenced by so many incidents in the present. And it will continue as long as we elect racist leaders, listen to talk radio shows that spew horrid and hatred language and allow police to get away with murder of those who look different than they do . Those who incite this mindless destruction of human dignity perhaps could be deported back to their country of origin, unless of course they are
American Indians who face the same issues in their country of origin, America. Many of these people go to church and cover themselves with the mantle of piousness.
We should all take a very long look in the mirror and ask ourselves why do we think we are better because we are white. That we are entitled because we are white. It is disgusting that racism still lives in the 21st century. Maybe some nooses should be left at Ku Klux Klan headquarters or a cross burned on their lawn. Take away the Klan's members voting rights. Maybe they will feel the excruciating fear that lives in the hearts of African Americans.
Barbara (Canada)
That African Americans haven't risen up in numbers over the centuries lays waste to the bigoted cliché of the "angry black man".

Indeed, to this white Canadian, their collective patience and dignity in the face of continuing (and often deadly) endemic racism is admirable.

America owes much of its affuence to the stain of slavery - I wish, as a nation, it would remember that fact.
Davis (Johnson)
Sometimes I wonder if a handful of copycat nooses says the same about a country or omnipresent racism as gang graffiti says about a city or a group of citizens. I'm not even saying they are false flag hoaxes, like recent threats to Jewish centers by an Israeli-American teen and publicly anti-white black former Intercept journalist, but they could be.
Jim Dickinson (Columbus, Ohio)
African Americans who can find it in their hearts to still believe in the US are an inspiration to me. Despite every injustice they have endured they work to keep the American dream alive. Old, bitter white people are the real problem from my perspective. They have given up faith in the US, do little to make it better and invite a sleazy reality TV dictator in to fix it all for them.

Who are the real Americans in this picture and who are the traitors?
Lauren (Jacksonville FL)
Living with never-ending fear has to be the cruelest experience of all. To fear your fellow man, the police....as a white woman I can only imagine it but I think about it often. It sickens me that some hate filled individual would place such a powerful symbol of hatred and fear near a Museum honoring a proud people's struggle to be not just free, but equal.
souriad (<br/>)
Everyone please calm down. There is no racism in America. The Supreme Court said so. You should reevaluate this "noose business" in light of the alternate fact that racism in America is dead. Liberals need to pay more attention to "right" thinking heroes such as Chief Justice Roberts who came up with the ingenious "racism is dead" idea. Pure genius. A Trumpian idea from someone with more than a grade school education!
Kathy M (Portland Oregon)
Tomorrow is the Annual "Good in the Hood" celebration in Portland, held in the predominantly "Brown" neighborhood of the inner northeast city. It was founded by local black leaders to curb gang violence and to bring hope to disenfranchised people of color. The celebration starts tomorrow with 25 ministers holding a prayer vigil to envelop the festival goers in God's love and protection. It is especially needed this year because one of the founders received a hateful letter from the KKK that they intended a "bloodbath" if he dared to hold the festival. In fact, they also threatened his family directly. Like other white Americans here in the northwest I was fooled that this vicious hatred was only suppressed by our laws, never truly uprooted. How do we truly pay off our Karma?
Tom West (atlanta, ga)
Should a noose be included in the exhibit of KKK artifacts?
George (Washington, DC)
After months of waiting for our turn to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture. we were struck not just by the excellence and scope of the museum's exhibits, but also by the large weekday crowd of people of all race, color and age who chose to visit the museum that day. Each day and each new visitor are contributing to a future time not yet here when all Americans see nooses as pathetic, spineless symbols of a past we abhor and will never tolerate again.
Tim (United Kingdom)
A dignified and thoughtful article. Let's hope that these symbols are the withering husks of racism rather than the seeds of a new generation.
ah (new york)
I think that the nooses could be part of the museum presentation. Give them their own catalogue number including type of rope where the rope was made the date it was left and camera footage of it being left in the museum. Surely there are cameras in the museum. Because the history of racism did not end with the building of this museum. Clearly it continues, and we can not forget that. So if bigots want to display their hatred of their fellow man, let's call them out on it. Remind everyone that this is not going away and we are not going to allow it to get in our way of building a better America. And we can also label this as a hate crime and prosecute. That story can go in the museum as well. Right up on the wall next to the date and make of the rope, with the name of the perpetrator. Because that is a part of moving forward.
tom (boston)
This is what Faulkner meant by "the past is not dead; it isn't even past."
A noose left at a museum devoted to exposing the history of lynching: Wow.

From all accounts this new museum is incredible, moving, powerful, and so very very important. And this noose-dropping, a quietly horrific moment in that new museum's interface with contemporary reality, is an entirely shocking and yet at the same time drearily unsurprising turn of events. That some nut job would think it appropriate and not a criminal outrage to place a noose at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. reveals, IMHO, that people are so very disturbingly animalistic in far too many instances.

Mr. Bunch says it best in his essay: that, in effect, this disgusting talisman is proof if any were needed that the vision of America "shaped by racism, violence and terror" must be tempered by "a belief in an America where freedom and fairness reign."

Amen to fairness, but I also will say amen and breathe a little easier if the perpetrator or perps who left this horrific message of hate are caught and prosecuted, if not criminally, then in some other manner, in response to the hateful and provocatively dangerous, if arguably symbolic, speech that they have expounded through the gesture of the noose.
blackmamba (IL)
So what?

You can't be that naïve nor surprised by a noose at a sacred place for African Americans. Four black girls were killed in a church bombing. Donald, Melania and Barron Trump are living in house built and inhabited by enslaved Africans.

Since you were at the Chicago History Museum you know what happened to Chicago Native Son Emmitt Till. Till lived in my hood. My mother, uncles and aunts went to his funeral, I met Till's mother through her second husband who was my barber. I went to Mother Mobley's funeral.

Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, Walter Scott, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd and Jordan Edwards are the deadly news of the enduring legacy of white male misogynist supremacist humanity denying African slavery and equality defying African Jim Crow.

Bryan Stevenson is pushing to designate as national monuments the places where 5000 black men, women and kids were lynched from Reconstruction to Civil Rights in America,

See 'Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America' James Allen

God bless America? For what? For whom? For when? For why?
TDurk (Rochester NY)
One very big problem with the claims of notes, threats and nooses at such places as St Olaf's, Missouri, Yale and other such sites is they create doubt when incidents such as this one is reported.

I detest the Klan. I detest and repudiate all forms of racism on the part of any persons against others. That said, lets see who actually is placing these symbols and just what kind of symbolic problem we have here.
Dave in NC (North Carolina)
Last year I had a chance to make a brief tour of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. It was a spur of the moment thing, and I did not have a ticket. As I approached the museum planning on just walking around the outside, I was stopped by a man on the sidewalk leading up to the building. He asked if I had a ticket. I replied I did not and began to explain I was only walking around the building. Before I reached the second syllable, he thrust a ticket in my hand and said, “You are blessed today, sir.”

I could only spend an hour there, but what an hour! I rejoiced in the achievements of African Americans which are manifold, but always tempered by the extra weight they are forced to carry. I was speechless before the artifacts and images of oppression and hung my head in shame that my fellow Americans could commit such crimes against their sisters and brothers. As a white American, it allowed me a peek at the world from a place of worry, pain, and dignity. The tears I shed were from joy and heartbreak.

I am not so naive as to think that visiting a museum will cure our collective racial ills, but it may make our cumulative experience more understandable. Yes, the nooses are a part of our past and we have to own them too. But that is just a part of the story. Go and visit that holy place. Cry and laugh.
Lawyermama (Buffalo)
Thank you, Dr. Bunch, for writing this piece on a day when I desperately needed a reason to fight for my country. I'll tell you, I get very discouraged facing the apathy, ignorance, and callous remarks made by those who don't care, any time people of color have the audacity to point out the the American experiment isn't working out so good for them. I am trying to internalize your message and to look at the perseverance and strength it must have taken to survive as a black person in America all these years and find a shred to keep me going. I guess the thing that kept African Americans fighting for the future was hope. What I'm seeing from my country now, in 2017, isn't giving me the warm fuzzies...
Norma Smith (New Jersey)
My husband and I, white people, visited the (wonderful) museum shortly after it opened, driving down from NJ for a long weekend. Because of the expected crowds, the museum was giving out free tickets. All the tickets had been given out for the day we wanted to go, but a young black woman shared her extras with us. She was there with her white boyfriend. May we see many such pairings in the future--that's one of our only hopes for ending racism.
The crowds at the museum on the day we were there were racially mixed, including Asians, and there was a lovely spirit of people enjoying the success of the museum and each other's presence.
I eagerly followed articles about the museum's design and construction and am delighted that it now exists. Also I think the design is fabulous.
lol (Upstate NY)
If you put all of the mosaic pieces together of what's going on in foreign policy, domestic policy, world affairs, climate change, the rise of superstition over science and "alternative facts" (i.e., Fox News) it's abundantly clear that we have all of the essential ingredients of a very chilling dystopian novel. I am disconcerted by the "business as usual" attitude of so many aware people. I guess I have to ascribe that to "whistling past the graveyard".
Jb (Ok)
It's a common human trait to go on in established routines and lives as long as we can in the face of growing trouble, ignoring signs that we should change, whether by fighting or fleeing. The disruption is hard to face, often entailing loss in itself and taking courage to choose, where inaction is an option, where rationalization or ill-founded hopes prevail. History is replete with examples, unfortunately. I don't see anything that indicates at present that we will be exceptions to that pattern; the amount of confusion, some deliberately fostered, and the escapes open for continual entertainment make effective responses unlikely.
lol (Upstate NY)
Agreed. At what point in the dissolution of a caring society do people wake up and revolt?
B. (Brooklyn)
"I am disconcerted by the 'business as usual' attitude of so many aware people."

Well, if the Republicans aren't voted out in the coming 2-3 years, and if our courts get packed with Trump appointees and do not uphold civil liberties, and if the FBI and CIA can't bust open the corrupt, money-laundering antics of Trump's Russian and Eastern European buddies (with Trump and his son-in-law at their center), then it could be that leftist Second-Amendment types will go toe-to-toe with Trump's neo-Nazi friends.

Or, we'll become like Russia, led by a very wily, very wealthy conniver, with sporadic demonstrations forcibly put down, living conditions for Putin's cronies luxurious indeed, and misery for the masses.

And what do you propose to do about things?
Milo Minderbinder (Brookline, MA)
By chance I was at the African American History Museum last weekend, sitting outside and enjoying the shade the building provides from the baking sun. As my daughter and I sat by the fountain we had a chance to observe the crowd waiting in line, and also the people joining us in the shade.

Sadly, we were the only white people there.

The art museum down the street draws a mixed crowd, yet only African Americans were drawn to a museum about African American history.

Racial segregation is illegal now, but it never really went away. You can find it in our housing, our schools and our justice system. Even, apparently in the museums we choose to attend.
Maurelius (Westport)
@Milo Minderbender. I have not yet been to the African American History Museum however I can tell that when I'm at the MET in NYC, the galleries for African, Oceana and the Americas ART is EMPTY however the European Galleries IS A MOB scene.

Some white people think their history is the only history is worth acknowledging or knowing about. I know more about you than you know about me and it's not because you force me to, I do it because I want to. Some whites just don't bother or care.
SCherry (Maryland)
Thank you, Lonnie. I will share this with my museum studies graduate students.
Joe (<br/>)
A fitting punishment for this, in addition to jail time, would require the hate-mongering dunce to wear the noose in front of the museum while listening to stories of people who've endured lifetimes of racism from idiots like him and fellow Trump voters.
Tony Borrelli (Suburban Philly)
As a first generation Italian American in my 70s, I can recall the Irish priests in my Catholic High School referring to myself & other Italian Americans as "Dagos", "Wops", "Grease Balls" etc. I recall how my parents were refused baptism in "Irish Catholic" & "German Catholic" churches & forced to build their own "Italian" parish churches. Reading about the 19th century lynchings of Italian Americans in New Orleans, & studying the Sacco-Vanzetti case boils my blood. I landed my fists on many who hated me because of my ethnic background. I can only imagine the anger & contempt that African Americans can't help to harbor for white America. And it shames me when Italian, Jewish, Polish, & even Irish Catholic Americans in politics vote against the interests of human, voting & health care rights of "the others" when we were once those "others". And it's done by flag waving, crucifix wearing hypocrites who are too stupid to realize that are doing that which was done to them & could be done again in this nationalistic fervor our country embraces.
Richard E. Schiff (New York)
Forced Re-education would end this amassment of sheer ignorancethat keeps America in a "stone age" on racial equality. Mass re-education is required as the 39% who support Trump, no matter how foolish and contemptible he is, are too ignorant to recognize lies and distortions when they see or hear them.

Education is the Cornerstone of Democracy was carved into the facade of many Grammar Schools that were built in the early 20th Century, whe American Public Ed was the best ever.
Joanna Grossman (New York City)
The cowardly act conveys the message in stark terms. Perhaps leaving the noose in place where it was put would have reinforced Mr. Bunch's words. Perhaps with a cordon around it and a sign to the effect that "someone with hate in their heart left this here on May -- 2017". I am disheartened by the decision to remove it. In a sense the removal does confine the hatred to the past. I hope the act will be documented in some way within the museum as well in the pages of a newspaper. I write this with deep respect for Mr. Bunch's words.
Gerard (PA)
I hope the three nooses at the Smithsonian are displayed as part of the exhibition: they would inform visitors on the continuation of deep racism and act as a warning. Plus I like the irony of turning intimidation into education.
The Old Netminder (chicago)
Careful now: Time after time, these nooses or graffiti or other supposedly racist-committed acts turn out to frauds. Time after time, college administrators have had to lamely backtrack on their handwringing when some slur appeared on a wall and turned out to be by one of the supposed targets (see St. Olaf).
Jb (Ok)
I don't see a series of "time after time" examples here, but assume you'll append those now? Anytime you'd like.
Riley Temple (Washington, DC)
The one consistent response to these hateful acts is denial. If the fact cannot be denied, the turn is then to the intent. Denial is precisely the reason why Americans cannot fathom the depth of the racial animus that infects and perplexes us.
Rich Duggan (Newark, DE)
Seems to me that noose, along with this article, should be made into an exhibit.
sb (Madison)
I can only speak to my experience and to the communities that I am a part of, but it is absolutely incumbent upon well meaning, good hearted people who think of themselves as white, to stand up to this behavior. We need to be vocal and unequivocal when there is a noose present and when there isn't that anything less than treating all others with full dignity and respect is unacceptable.

I don't care if the noose is metaphorical or literal. I don't care whether is made from rope or immigration policy. I don't care whether is hangs from a tree or an F-15. Stand up and demand that we actually embody values that enfranchise all peoples.

Thank you for this.
levosins (Royal oak, Mi)
This hate is definitely not confined just to the south. In a middle school right by me (in Michigan) a student brought a noose into the boy's bathroom: http://www.freep.com/story/news/education/2016/11/20/royal-oak-middle-no... right after the election.
I'm wondering if these nooses are being made and left places by somebody who is mentally unstable- not necessarily somebody who is trying to send a racists message.
The Old Netminder (chicago)
That question never gets asked. They are always treated as if they must have been planted by a white racist, even though repeatedly these incidents of almost stereotypical racist symbolism turn out to be staged by the very ones supposedly targeted and aggrieved. It almost like people want the nooses and grafitti to be real, because they create such a rallying point and fuel for earnest outrage.
J. Faye Harding (Mt. Vernon, NY)
Stop looking for excuses for hatred, ignorance and racism.
The Old Netminder (chicago)
Go ahead: pretend that staged incidents of this type are not distressingly common.
There is always emigration. Head somewhere else.
J. Faye Harding (Mt. Vernon, NY)
Why don't you leave? I'm sure the Native Americans will be glad to see you go and I am willing to bet they wish you had never been welcomed here. You and those like you are sorry excuses for human beings. That you hate those with a different skin color only proves how insecure, inferior and shallow you are.
E Hudson (Los Angeles)
You first.
J. Faye Harding (Mt. Vernon, NY)
LOL. You were the one telling others to leave so follow you own advice before attempting to tell others what they should do. Have some self awareness why don't you.
JeVaisPlusHaut (Ly'b'g. Virginia)
Thank you Dr. Bunch. Please put back the noose! What a great way for all new visitors to see and experience, as a "first grade" history lesson, that "it ain't over 'til it's over." Imagine parents having to explain 'the symbol' to their young, all of whom are NOT taught early on, or if ever, in our educational systems about our 'national cancer;' and, more importantly, that it still exists. Maybe then we would stop hearing young people in denial of any of the horror having anything to do with them, or ever happening.
Patrick Asahiyama (Japan)
All these nooses and not one apprehension, much less a suspect? Two words: surveillance cameras. With that simple step we'll soon get to the bottom of who is planting these inflammatory symbols and why.
The Old Netminder (chicago)
If the footage doesn't fit the racism narrative, do you think we would ever see it?
Elizabeth (Portland, Maine)
I encourage Lonnie Bunch and his staff to keep the nooses on public display, perhaps as a coda to the main narrative exhibition. This editorial explains the context of this continued poison and its message needs to be integrated into the overall Mall experience. Never forget.
Nan Socolow (West Palm Beach, FL)
Thank you, Lonnie Bunch, for your beautiful piece "A Noose at the Smithsonian Brings History Back to Life". Such heartbreaking and bitter fruit, the noose left at the new Smithsonian NMAAHC on the Mall in Washington,D.C. . We are all living live in terrible times! Jim Crow has risen like a zombie, a vampire, (h/t Krugman), a golem, and will be put to uneasy rest soon, we hope and pray.
Flak Catcher (New Hampshire)
Thank you, Donald.
Thank you, whatever local school system created such ignorant white trash.
Thank you GOP for slashing education funding so the creeps like this can pretend their being cute/smart.
Hopefully, mom and dead would be horrified.
May you discover who did this and prosecute them to the maximum permitted by law.
Bill (Charlottesville, VA)
I hope at least one of the nooses stays as part of the exhibit, with the date and story of its arrival attached, as a reminder that racism and hate are just as much a part of America's present as its past. Maybe with a stern warning - "THIS HAS NOT CHANGED".
Samantha (Iselin)
Ever since the Madonna Constantine alleged hoax at Columbia I have viewed incidents like this with a skeptical eye. Ms. Constantine, you may remember, was the professor who "found" a noose hanging in the doorway of her office during a plagiarism investigation, an investigation which that later led to her dismissal from the University.
The Old Netminder (chicago)
Shh, we're supposed to be outraged, we can't acknowledge how many of these turn out to be staged and hoaxed.
ibeetb (nj)
America needs to accept responsibility for its actions and the actions of its ancestors. Blacks were brought here to perform the manual labor of picking cotton because whites could not bear the burden of 16 hours in the hot southern sun loading heavy bushels of cotton. Blacks did it, unwillingly yet docily and diligently. HAVE SOME APPRECIATION!!!!!!!!!
alyosha (wv)
Hysteria. Black Lives Matter is real, about a real threat, the continuation of centuries of oppression. So are any number of other offenses.

The handful of nooses, on the other hand, are the work of one or a few nuts.
manfred marcus (Bolivia)
It seems as though 'racism' is alive and well, in the minds of 'sick' individuals, unable to tolerate diversity, and fomenting hate and division 'a la Trump'. This is not only lack of proper education, it comes from families and perhaps even communities that instill and indoctrinate their children the seeds of prejudice and small-mindedness. This is shameful, counterproductive and retrograde thinking, proper of dimwits.
Elliot Silberberg (Steamboat Springs, Colorado)
The idea of someone entering an African American museum to plant a noose inside is disgusting. Such vile acts remind us racists have the most cowardly ways to express their hateful sick jokes. I imagine a smirk on a warped face telling pals about the stunt. These types are scum.
Nancy Parker (Englewood, FL)
I apologize on behalf of all white people, since I'm sure these were not left by a person of color, just as I am sure they were not put there by a rabid left wing liberal tree hugger climate change believer Bernie supporter.

It is so unbelievably sad how far the human species could have come if all the energy and thought and planning and money and time and dedication and lives that have been spent hating and killing and hurting each other since the first tribes attacked each other, through all the forgotten and grievously remembered wars - including the one we call "Civil", to the wars we continue to fight around the world today, to the terrorist "wars" that never end - if all that combined man and materiel had been directed at building and creating and feeding and caring for and educating and healing and inventing and exploring and discovering ...

No god had to make a heaven or a hell. We had the chance for one and blew it and created the other ourselves with no supernatural help at all.
Bob Brussack (Athens GA)
I'm in central Europe at the moment. All around me I find evidence that the European people as a whole have looked their history squarely in the face, acknowledging the evil honestly and fully. White Americans in the South and really throughout much of the country have yet to do this. In Athens, Georgia, which is in some ways a blue oasis in a red sea, the historical markers in front of the antebellum mansions nonetheless praise the men of the Confederacy, leaving out of account the murderous brutality over which they presided. The Republican Party thrives as the white party in Georgia because it has inherited from the old Democratic Party the support of a culture that still has not faced up to itself.
James Graham (USA)
I believe we are at another pivotal time in our culture. White supremacy, which has quietly endured despite the great efforts of civil rights activists and leaders over the past hundred years, is now truly threatened. The truth of a brown nation is upon us and whites are fearful, and not without reason. The shame of our history, and the denial that comes with it, is preventing good people from understanding their complicity in a system of hate and murder. The fear and silence of the majority is emboldening the extreme and hateful. The contribution of African Americans to our culture is beyond measure. Most all the great achievements in American art and music owe themselves to the African American experience and spirit. The forces of white power and money would have us in a dull, arid place unless we act to stop them.
dad (or)
This country should be ashamed of itself. And then go for the group hug. I wish it were that simple.
MMB (New Jersey)
As a doctoral student, I attempted to bring to light racism and discrimination in a particular field and enlighten colleagues of the effect of racism on everyday function in the workplace. Of course, I was met by opposition, lack of support, and attempts to turn the dissertation into something other than the truth that has been so clearly documented in prior research.
Overt expressions of racism such as these incidents described here are done so with the intent to damage and instill fear while trying to put a crack in African American self-identity; but microaggressive or covert behaviors, often encountered on a daily and compounding basis is even more damaging because it is perpetrated on a level in which the offender, often believing he or she is egalitarian in their social self-beliefs, does not see his or her behavior as racist. I'm still followed in stores, ignored in conversations at the workplace, excluded from decisions about my workload, not invited to meetings, and on and on. I am not alone as most people of African, and African American descent can attest to.
That noose, is now out of sight. What it represents surrounds and engulfs us daily.
Bettina May (NYC)
I fully agree with the statement about micro aggression in the work place. I am retired now but when I worked in an industry that depended on low wage workers to be profitable, as a white person it was assumed that of course I was in step with all the discussions about 'teaching workers how to speak correctly" and with actions such as locking the door between the production area where the majority of the workers were African American and the administration are where all the employees were white. I use the words "workers" and "employees" deliberately because that was one way the two groups were distinguished, the African American "workers" are not as valued or cared for as the white "employees". I left jobs because I realized that by staying I was complicit in the discriminatory behavior.
That was twenty years and a career change ago, but my blood still boils at the memory. I can't imagine how the African American people who worked for me felt. They remained always courteous. One person told me, don't cry, that's how it is.
And it still is that way today. I must have been sensitized by my experiences because I see the little behaviors in stores and on the streets and the buses and subways.
I know this is a rant but I feel the individual attempting to write a thesis should have as much validation as possible regardless of the source.
Thank You.
Al (New Orleans)
I don't even know what to say about this. I'm not shocked though. Just speechless!
BSargent (Berlin, NH)
Before retiring I spent a few years as a business development consultant for the second largest employer in the region, a product distributor. There were over 900 employees and not one Black and the only Latinos were the cleaning people. This in spite of there being a majority minority city only 25 miles away. Most of the jobs were warehousing, trucking and sales, not requiring a degree or special training. I would hear the vicious comments when Black folks came in to apply for jobs that they would never get. And this was New England, not the South. I know that this is at least one reason for the poverty, idleness, and drug problems in our minority communities.
john.goodgold (NewYork City)
"Why can’t African-Americans get over past discrimination?"

--"forget it? how?"
--"forget it? would I?"
--"forget it? why?"
--"forget it? U.S. police killed at least 258 black people in 2016"
--"forget it? 39 of these people were unarmed."
--"forget it? 4 were killed by police stun guns"
--"forget it? why?"
--"forget it? would I?"

--"forget it? HOW..............?"
Marc (VT)
As long as powerful white Americans, and that includes the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, are unwilling to open their eyes and see the evidence of continuing racism and discrimination in the country this will continue.
The Court's rulings against discrimination, from Brown, to Loving, to Bakke and others (http://civilrights.findlaw.com/discrimination/race-discrimination-u-s-su... helped. Justice Roberts recent blindness has turned back the clock.
George S (New York, NY)
Disgusting behavior, yet with the number of situations in recent years of racist or similar hateful actions having been perpetrated as hoaxes for attention or to make some sort of political point by members of the target groups, one is now forced to ask if this is really what it appears to be. Sad that we must now think this but welcome to our attention seeking world.
NorthernVirginia (Falls Church, VA)
I find it remarkable that a few blocks from the White House, in the most surveilled city on earth, in the newest museum on the mall, there is no video or still image record of the perpetrator.
Let us not forget that the recent wave of antisemitic threats in this country was ultimately determined to be the work of an Israeli.
I would withhold my moral outrage and righteous indignation at least until a thorough investigation has been completed.
A. Stanton (Dallas, TX)
Leo M. Frank was lynched in Marietta, Georgia on August 17, 1915 after being wrongfully convicted two years earlier of the murder of Mary Phagan, a 13 year old girl. His real crime was being Jewish.

His murderers included many prominent local citizens, including a former Governor of Georgia, none of whom were ever arrested or punished for the crime.

It is a matter of historical record that Frank and his wife conducted themselves with great dignity and bravery throughout their terrible ordeal.

Frank was ultimately pardoned by the State of Georgia in 1986, in a decision that did not include a full acknowledgement of his innocence which is still disputed today by some people in Georgia and on the websites of haters of Jews around the country.

“May the Almighty comfort us among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.”

Tom M (Maine)
For all the ugliness surrounding immigration, and Muslims, the plight of African-Americans has been and obviously still is a unique problem. The success of conservatives in targeting welfare programs and condemning drug violence and addiction - despite how extensively those affect rural whites - shows that Jim Crow would not be all that disappointed with today's America.
Alex (Naples, FL)
These past few years have been very enlightening to me on the subject of racism. There was a lot I just did not know. Now, I feel the urge to hug every black person I see. I, of course, would not do that as it would be offensive, but the feeling is there. Why must these people still suffer? Why can't we see our brother and sister? I can and it hurts when I hear of something like this.
C.S. (WDC)
Someone went to the trouble of travelling to a museum whose purpose is plain yet, in current circumstances, modest - reclaiming Black history and culture-, all to leave a hateful symbol of violence.

White supremacy is nothing if not insecure.
Mike Marks (Cape Cod)
America is a great country, conceived with beautiful ideals and a horrific history of racism and exploitation that, while attenuated, continues to the present day. Exploiting racial resentments since the Presidency of Richard Nixon, the Republican Party continues to build a wall of blindness to both the awful past and the bitter injustices of the present. We must stop the building. That begins by fighting every lie and continues each time we vote.
B Delsaut (France)
Thank you for this opinion page. It should be shared and discussed in every school and college! Are we doing enough at the school level? Are we doing enough to denounce and condemn the immorality of hate? Unfortunately, racism is very much alive and not only in the USA. It has many shapes and many forms all over the world and in every human community. The patience African American individuals have shown is born of great wisdom and deep understanding of life. Victims of discrimination who do not give up their faith in human goodness are our best teachers. They are the lighthouse to current and future generations who will continue to build and contribute to the human civilization and its evolution.
Why are we still unable to engage individuals who perpetrate act of racism or any other form of discrimination? Why is it so difficult to recognize future perpetrators and help them understand the source of their hate toward "the other"? Why can't they be aware that it is more a reflection of their ignorance and inability to be in touch with their true self? Weakness of mind and heart deafness turn unevolved individuals into easy prey for hate! Unfortunately, such individuals also have poor self-awareness and limited interest for self- examination, so how much would it take for haters to understand themselves so that they could evolve and contribute positively to the human community?
Ben Lowsen (Alexandria, VA)
I see a tiny minority of racists temporarily inspired, but still completely rejected by the book of society. I don't think it's a good idea to paint racism and unconscious bias with the same brush. It alienates those who would otherwise be your ally.
Bill Tritt (New Tripoli PA)
Never fear, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, Attorney General of the United States, and his men in the civil rights division of the Justice Department are on the job. They will end these kind of actions and eradicate racism in our time
Dr George f Gitlitz (Sarasota, FL)
The real reminder that racism is still with us, and that the Civil War did not end at Appomattox--is the battle being played out in the US Senate today. A president with a personal and family record of racism; and a Majority Leader from a Southern state who has made it his professional mission to "erase" (the actual word used by the Republicans) the work, the legacy, and the very memory of a Black president, are within an ace of achieving a major milepost. Jim Crow, Reconstruction, segregation, the Dixiecrat desertion, the "Birther" campaign, the theft of a Supreme Court seat, are its predecessors. The present action to transfer money and services from the poor to the rich only masks the underlying intent. The irony is that so many disadvantaged people in "red" states, and Trump supporters everywhere, will suffer if the ACA is destroyed.
Ami (Portland Oregon)
We judge the rest of the world for their human rights issues yet refuse to acknowledge or address the issues in our own country. Racism persists because it can. How many times do you hear someone accuse people of being PC when they try to have an honest discussion about racism in this country. We keep passing it down with each generation. A never ending cycle that is sick and wrong.
Maurelius (Westport)
"Until the philosophy that holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned everything is war. That until there's no longer 1st class and 2nd class citizens of any nation..Until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes, me say war. That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race, me say war" From the song War by Bob Marley

By war, I take it he meant a struggle.

I'm surprised there was not recording devices in the museum to record this act.
jimfaye (Ellijay, GA)
As a white Southerner, I am deeply ashamed and horrified at the way African-Americans have been treated in our country. I cannot imagine how the people could be so evil and mean to our fellow citizens. There must be something dark and evil way down in our society's culture that make (and made) people feel justified in taking advantage of and mistreating African-Americans. As Einstein said, "Racism is America's worst disease." People died for the right to vote. I just hope that our Supreme Court remembers this as they ponder whether our Right to Vote needs to be vigorously protected.
Byron Edgington (Columbus Ohio)
As a white American, I cannot imagine the pain and anguish seeing such a hated symbol causes, especially in this setting. I believe we need to continue calling these heinous acts what they are, violence against our fellow citizens. Instead of the hard working, law abiding, contributory migrants who enhance our national life, yet face potential deportation, the despicable purveyors of this kind of hatred, when discovered, should be deported as un-American. Of course no other country would have them, but I believe the threat should exist.
Michael (Dutton, Michigan)
Racism has been and will remain the most challenging issue for a very long time. I believe it is basically a spiritual (definitely NOT religious) matter and he Neil we cope with that, we will be unsuccessful in dealing with racism's pernicious affects on us all.
Amanda (New York)
It doesn't make sense that a noose would be left by a white racist in front of a number of other, curated, examples of white racism, as some sort of racist threat against black people. A racist might well expect that it would just be seen as part of the exhibit, and not even be understood as a threat.

On the other hand, what better way to attract attention to the exhibit itself but to include a noose? Black student activists and professors of African-American studies have already been caught leaving nooses for themselves, as part of an effort at consciousness-raising about racism. This has often been followed by demands, sometimes successful, for special campus programs for black students and faculty.

I hope there is videotape so we can know which of these it is.
The Old Netminder (chicago)
Don't interrupt the narrative! It is very inconvenient to the cause.
blackmamba (IL)
Black people are to blame for acting so uppity and independent for everything that befalls them in America.

After being blessed by God to be enslaved in America and separate and unequal in America and to still remain so ungrateful and greedy is beyond the pale.

Ask Donnie Trump for the videotape.
Lester Arditty (New York City)
You're engaging in what's called blame the victim tactics.
Whether or not there's any truth to your comment is not even relative to this article at all. The noose was left at The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, not some college campus.
The real point of the article is to draw attention to the depths of racism that exists in the US towards African Americans only because of the color of their skin. Racism is pervasive across the American Culture. Some of it is overt, such as a noose left to intimidate. Some of it is covert such as denying housing to Black people & Black families in what are considered white's only neighborhoods. Such communities exist. There's at least one such location in eastern Suffolk County, NY.
The noose was clearly left to send a message of hate & intimidation. I suggest you re-read the column again, this time without any pre-conceived notions.
While you read it, ask yourself, have you ever been threatened & intimidated by anyone or a group because of your skin color (or for your religion or ethnic origin for that matter). Try to imagine you're a black woman with dreams & aspirations. Now imagine that every single day of your live, you have to deal not only the hard work you must do to get ahead, by while you do that, someone or some organization blocks you because of your skin color.
If it's hard to imagine, spend time among black people to see what they witness every day. Racism is defeated by empathy.
Don Shipp, (Homestead Florida)
There is no question about the magnificence of the African American History and Culture museum, the odious history of American lynching, or the existence of racism. However, Mr. Bunch's pseudo omniscient assertions about the person(s)who left the noose,(s) or why they were left, are nothing more than idle speculation. The core of racism is allowing stereotypical thinking to replace the rational thought process. When Mr. Bunch makes assertions without evidence isn't he adopting the same mental process as the racists he abhors? Mr. Bunch needs to be cautioned when his stereotypical assumptions, however plausible, lead him to make statements that can't be backed up with hard evidence.
Irene (California)
What is your theory of why someone is leaving the noose?
Kevin (San Francisco)
This is a NYTimes pick?
MixedMisery (CrimsonRed Dixieland)
Hush your mouth.
Every honest Southern white person over 40, living in old -Southern White Knight, United Knights, & White Citizens Council territory, knows what a noose being left outside your door or business means.

In The Realm of Georgia, the Invisible Empire, the message was clear if a noose appeared on your property.

The first noose means:
A social call that you have committed a crime against Anglo Christan Supremacy. If you were black, it was time to jump back ( review your family's activities and see who may have done something to offend a powerful white: seen talking to a white outsider, asking for better pay at work, etc...)

If you were "poor white"(race code for a bright-light white-looking person with black ancestry) , shuffle off to your boss, hat in hand, and humbly ask him to figure out who you offended. If you crossed the race line in some way ( such as sharing a beer jug with fellow workers who were blacker than you) jump back and stay put.

The second noose: Another "courteous" social call to let you know you continue to be a traitor to Anglo Christian Supremacy.

The third noose: Final social call. The next visit will be a business call to cleanse you and yours from racial sin with fire and rope( If you are black, you may still be breathing but you are dead. If you are quasi-white, leave now, and you may make it across the county line without the police stopping you.)

God have mercy on us. The South is Hellish place sometimes.
jmc (Stamford)
Excellent analysis.
The noose is a symbol of the terrorist lynchings used to subdue and control the former slaves and their descendants - through the modern era. But lynchings used other horrific means of killing and veered off into torture and sadistic mutilation.

There is still an attempt today to rationalize lynchings and Southern resistance to anti-lynch laws that year after year signaled that extra-judicial murder was okay.

There are two significant lynchings that stand out - the Carrollton Massacre in Mississippi where White killers burst into a courtroom and began shooting every black person there. What distinguished it was that there was no premature justice to falsely proclaim, I.e. There was no murder or violent crimes black defendant.

That roused the anti-lynching forces, although no justice could be found.

In the World War I decade, the Mary Turner Lynching in the Valdosta era stirred anger at the senseless vicious murders of lynch mobs on a rampage. Supposedly seeking the killer of an abusive plantation owner, the lynch mob mowed through the black population killing the innocent for the sin of being black.

Mary Turner's husband was among the early innocents murdered. Mary Turner, heavy with pregnancy, dared to speak against the killing and the mob turned on her. She was abused and tortured before she died with a noose, then her belly was slashed open and the full term infant wailed briefly before it was crushed into the ground and burned.

MixedMisery (CrimsonRed Dixieland)
Thank you for remembering the Turner family ( Mrs. and Mr. Turner and their newborn babe) who were all tortured by their Anglo neighbors. RIP

I need to testify: I called and talked with my old friend, Lil Rooster, a mixed-race GA milltown boy whose family still passes as white. He confirmed that when he was young, it was whispered among the poor white-ish Georgians to stay away & be careful what you said and did around certain 100%Anglos as those were the ones in the Southern White Knight posse that killed the Turners. He said that supposedly a BigBoss Man ( who controlled the Knight police members and court system in that part of GA ) distributed the Turner's possessions, land and lynching "souvenirs" of their bodies to the killers. I told him he didn't have to convince me that happened! That was just SOP for the way GA lynchings of Black people were done.
God help us.

As a quasi-white child growing up in Georgia in the 1970s, I need to testify that powerful local Anglo-Saxon Christian men (retired lawmen and White Southern Baptist deacons) were known to brag about "owning" charred pieces of people they, or the older patriarch in their family, had got from lynching blacks. It is likely one of these GA men owned parts of the Turner family.

I and my friend are praying that those white men and women who own or know the location of any of the Turner family remains, to confess at a local AME church and return the remnants for proper burial.
blackmamba (IL)
Forget the noose and remember the lynching.

The Moore's Ford Bridge Georgia mass lynching of two married black couples was done by gunshot. Three civil rights workers were shot to death in Philadelphia Mississippi. Four little girls died in a Birmingham Alabama Church bombing. Nine black men and women were shot to death in Charleston South Carolina. Blacks were burned to death and drowned.

It is the lynching aka extrajudicial killing that matters most. Not the methods.

Never forget nor forgive. Never give-up!
T.S. (Maryland)
The only contention I have with your opinion is your chronicle of lynching. You wrote, "But lynching did not end with slavery. It continued from the 1880s until after the end of World War I, with more than 100 people lynched each year." It is crucial, in the Discourse of race in America, to never use a loose "end date" without a qualifier. Lynching violence against the Black body in the U.S. has extended to this day, albeit to a lesser degree, but the violence is almost always on reserve. If the NAACP were as relevant a force today, those flags would still memorialize instances when African Americans are found hanging or shot. Today, lynching's sting is removed by queries of "hate crime," motives of the "incident," mental state or criminal record of the victim and whether the perpetrator wore blue while "fearing" Blackness. In 1936 (when the NAACP flag was captured in the famous photo), Black folk weren't confused and the flag symbolically said we were not interested in outside speculation, quandary or jury when Black life was so violently removed from this earth. To time-stamp such racial violence, in some ways, contributes to the "naive and dangerous question that [you] hear too often: Why can't African Americans get over past discrimination?" In 1998, James Byrd was walking along a road in Texas. He was found later, having been dragged to his death, head and arm came off. One of his White killers had/has a tattoo of a Black man hanging from a noose. End of WWI? Qualify.
ChesBay (Maryland)
T.S.--Ask Bill Clinton if he can remember when there were still lynchings in "Hope," Arkansas. BLM.
William Case (Texas)
The FBI Crime Report (Expanded Homicide Data Table 6) for 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, shows that 500 blacks murdered whites while 229 whites (including Hispanics) murdered blacks.
blackmamba (IL)
Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Michael Brown, Rakia Boyd, Timothy Russell, Malissa Williams, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Alton Sterling, Jordan Edwards, the Charleston Nine etc. did not commit suicide.
William Case (Texas)
What does it mean to have found three nooses on Smithsonian grounds in 2017? A noose inside a Missouri high school? A noose on the campus of Duke University? No one knows until the culprits who left the nooses are caught and their motives are revealed. Too many of these types of incidents turn out to be fake hate crimes to count them as hate crimes before arrests are made.

We do know that interracial murders are mostly black-on-white murders, not white-on-black murders. The FBI Crime Report (Expanded Homicide Data Table 6) for 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, shows that 500 blacks murdered whites while 229 whites (including Hispanics) murdered blacks.
ChesBay (Maryland)
William Case--Are you justifying lynching, or threatening to lynch? Really?
Lawyermama (Buffalo)
How in the world did you get to thinking that the statistic showing how many black people killed white people is in any way germane at all to the question of who left the nooses? Do you not get this conversation? THAT IS NOT THE POINT
Llewis (N Cal)
You have missed the point of this article if you use misuse these kind of statistics to justify racial hatred. The stark images from Hanging Postcards speak to the history of hatred and murder in the America.
Floyd (Pompeii)
An exceptionally poignant and thoughtful reflection by Dr. Bunch. For me though, pictures can be worth a thousand words. The photograph accompanying this column is no exception. The somber faces of the visitors tell an op-ed all unto their own. Thank you for publishing this.
Robert Coane (US Refugee CANADA)
Racism is the founding principle of the U.S.A. ingrained in, endemic to and historical patrimony of the nation.

It should be officially ensconced as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. It might as well. It's a well established unwritten law and popular practice.
George S (New York, NY)
Unique in the history of the world, for no other nation had or has any history whatsoever of racism, right?
Stownsend (Colima, Mexico)
My grandmother's nephew was lynched in Starkville Mississippi in 1936. She told us the story of her desperate attempt to raise money for an attorney to save his life. Her friends, neighbors and our family members gave what they could afford. An attorney was hired (in Chicago); he took the money and was never seen again.
My mother told us that while waiting in a train station (she was six-years-old at the time) she was spat upon by an adult whose daughter complained that my mother's dress was too pretty for a . My mother was dressed for the funeral.
My grandmother forbade us to visit Mississippi. She returned every summer to visit our great grandmother and family, but we could not. Although I have traced our roots in Oktibbeha County back to the 1840s (George Washington Childs), my sisters and I cannot fathom the idea of returning. The soil is soaked in blood and the air echos with cries of tortured men and women.
The book "Without Sanctuary" should be required reading as it documents this terror.
It is stunning and quite sad that at this point in our history we continue to be unreconciled. The question today is the same as it was back then: For the love of God, when will it stop?
ChesBay (Maryland)
Stownsend--Until whites admit what they have done, and thoroughly educate our children about this history, there will never be reconciliation. I've been to Mississippi a couple of times, and I always needed a long hot shower after I left. There is a palpable feeling of fear, and death, in that dark place.
HenryJoseph (Raleigh NC)
Is it better in Mexico? If so, why do so many dark skinned Mexicans come to the US.

Please do not blow my question off. I never known any Mexican to embrace African Americans as a group. So I ask again are race/class relations superior to the US's in Mexico?
ehn (Norfolk)
"The struggle for the soul of America continues to this very day." I couldn't agree more. In our current climate, the forces of reaction (and violence) are emboldened but they will not win in the end. Although I have not had a chance to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture it seems that it has struck a chord (or a nerve) with visitors. The truth can be painful especially if it doesn't line up with your own preconceptions.

As an aside I hope they are installing more video monitors so we can bring the cowards to light if they try something like this again.
Ellen Sullivan (Cape Cod)
Thank you, Dr. Bunch, for this incredible African American museum. It holds such important history, tells the story of African Americans, from the horrific days of slavery to the present. And the present contains horrific elements of this past, far too many. Racism has continued from slavery to the present. One sees, at the museum, this progression, of racist beliefs and how they have been passed along generation to generation of Americans...via attitudes, laws, beliefs and practices. But one also sees how the fight for basic human rights has made this country, and some of its people, better. It shows the indominable spirit of African Americans, who teach us all lessons of strength, love, perseverance and faith. However, we must stay vigilant about racism, as evidenced by the noose left there in the museum, racism is still with us.
Infinite Observer (Tennessee)
Excellent article. All too often , many Whites are quick to tell Black Americans and in some cases, other historically marginalized groups of people t just "get over it" "move on" or let's talk about what unites as oppose to what divides us."

Well, what Mr. Bunch has so effectively and eloquently explained, is the fact that many of the vehement, vile, sordid, systemic and systematic racism of the past was never eradicated, rather, it has festered, transformed and continued to manifest itself in numerous subtle and sophisticated as well as overt and blatant fashion. The notion of American being a post racial society is an insult to any person or group of people who are the ongoing victims of its venomous and rapacious spirit.
Stephanie (Chicago, IL)
Thank you for writing this, Dr. Bunch. I teach Contemporary American History and will be sharing this with my students next year. They learn about lynching and the Civil Rights Movement, but need to read this and other timely articles about the experiences of African Americans today to understand that racism against them has not ended. Being students of mostly Mexican and Chinese background they have experienced racism themselves but since they don't know many black students they don't really have a handle on the idea that some people still haven't gotten over the freeing of slaves and the Civil Rights Movement.
E. Rosner (Berkeley, CA)
I'm grateful for the illumination provided by this piece, especially its reference to "collective memory." Whether we like it or not, all Americans share the burden as well as the responsibility for this history --- and we are obligated to address its ongoing legacies across the so-called lines of place and time.
Joseph Gardella (Buffalo NY)
Absolutely brilliant and heartfelt. Dr Bunch speaks for me. I first learned of his leadership last year as my son interned at the Museum of African American History and Culture. in the face of all that is happening in this country jow, the extraordinary response to this museum is a statement about how the rest of us in the majority want to remember and move forward to a better future, not regress to a violent and hate filled past.
Ben Hecht (Washington, DC)
This is an article that every American should read and the museum is a place that every American needs to go. This is our history, still playing out today, everywhere. Unfortunately, we could not be farther from a post-racial society. Dr. Bunch, who founded the museum, has created a national treasure and is one himself. The power of this piece is in it's honesty and simplicity. Well said.
Brendon (Branford, CT)
The quiet, fierce dignity of this column is enormously inspiring.
R (Kansas)
Another great reminder of why we need the social sciences still taught in school. History is with us on a daily basis. We must learn from the past. Too often our elected representatives have no idea. They give cover for racism.
Robert (Seattle)
"R" writes: "Another great reminder of why we need the social sciences still taught in school. History is with us on a daily basis. We must learn from the past. Too often our elected representatives have no idea. They give cover for racism."

Thanks for writing this. I disagree with just one point here. I believe too often our elected representatives have a very good idea as to what they are doing when they employ symbols of hate.
Sean (<br/>)
I only wish that the Smithsonian Museum of African American History would return that noose to the spot where it was found, with explanation of the context in which it was not only found, but placed there, as a great symbol of the racism that it represents. By removing it, the museum endows it with the power that its creator intended, to intimidate. Displaying it would do more to state the obvious, that racism is alive and well and not to be "gotten over" than any other exhibit in the museum, excellent and moving as they are. It would strip the noose-maker of the power to invoke fear as it instead would give power to others to control the narrative. The Smithsonian museum was given a threat against Black America and their allies; they have the potential to turn that threat into an unintentional donation and gift.
Joanna Grossman (New York City)
I wrote along the same lines but you did so far more beautifully. I hope your letter and the many recommends it has gotten will prompt reconsideration by the museum.
Mr. Grieves (Blips and Chitz!)
I hope this comment is selected and upvoted, and I hope Dr. Bunch sees it.
Len (Dutchess County)
Absolutely an important idea.
AK (Austin, TX)
Wonderful message and thank you for your work to make sure we are all aware of not only the horrific treatment of African Americans, but also the wonderful achievements in spite of this.
tom (pittsburgh)
In education we are stressing the stem program that eliminates history. As the old saying goes, "those that abandon history are doomed to live it again" We already see the dominance of racism in our red states.
carol goldstein (new york)
Any good STEM educational program does not eliminate the learning of history. In order to be a good engineer, programmer, etc. you need to appreciate how people operate. You need to understand how things can go wrong through human failings. Moreover, learning science, technology, engineering and math means learning the importance of reality based thought, the antithesis of prejudice.
HenryJoseph (Raleigh NC)

I was not aware that STEM education promoted race ignorance. Is this why there is such a paucity of STEM education in predominately African American schools...to encourage and teach awareness of racism?
Fred Smith (Germany)
What a powerful article and I must visit this museum with my family. The following passage in the text struck me (along with others): "the struggle for the soul of America continues to this very day." History as well as current events bear out how fragile democracy, freedom, equality, and truth really are and can't ever be taken for granted. Brave souls have fought for these ideals in the past and we must champion them going forward. We are stronger when we are united and we cannot be deterred by hate and misunderstanding.

Juanita (The Dalles)
Thank you for the link at the end of your comments.
Fred Smith (Germany)
Hello, Juanita:

I'm glad you found the link of value. It includes multiple letters written by African American military personnel, other unique period insights into race relations, and original film footage. I trust you accessed these easily. Have a nice weekend -


walterhett (Charleston, SC)
The fine craft of Dr. Bunch captures many issues cleanly: the DuBoisian formation of the two-ness of African-American life; how racism and discrimination use tools of collective memory; how black achievement is, for some, to be dimmed and marginalized by reduction to violence and cliches.

But he remains us all of the powerful inspiration of the James Weldon Johnson poem, set to music by his brother, Rosemond, and referred to as the black national anthem:

Lift ev'ry voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring.
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise,
High as the list'ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast'ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,

Have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

(Cont'd below.)
walterhett (Charleston, SC)
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might,
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee,
Shadowed beneath thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.

Many performances are available on youtube by choirs and popular artists. I share this performance from Harlem's famous Abyssinian Baptist Church [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGaEV_ir3KQ]
and this concert performance at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUN8gkz074k].
Citizen (Anywhere U. S. A.)
Thank you for sharing this beautiful anthem. I am embarrassed to say that I had never heard it before. It brought me to tears.
walterhett (Charleston, SC)
I must add this performance of "Lift Every Voice And Sing" performed by the Voices of Tomorrow on the National Mall for the opening of NMAALH (the National Museum of African-American Life and History). The Bushes and Obamas are seen in this live clip. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTbgRIsXtN4].

My most moving experience in the museum was praying with the life size image of Harriet Tubman, for me a dream come true! (Without an explanation, I hope you get how in the image-icon the spirit rests and waits to be animated in shared prayer. For more, see: A Portion of Fault: Gullah Faith and Prayer. [https://archive.org/details/WaltsProof16a].

The anthem was written in 1900 for Lincoln's birthday. (The correct name and spelling of Johnson's brother is John Rosamond.)
Larry Eisenberg (Medford, Ma.)
The doomsdayers, naysayers all
In the end will have a great fall,
Know Nothings at heart
Play a halt Progress part
Anti everything healthy they’d stall.

A dimwit like Trump is their choice
Moronic loves-the-Limelight voice,
Though eggheads abhor him
These rust heads adore him
Stripped of benefits they rejoice.

Minorities are their bȇte noire
Arousing a feverish ire
Religion or color
Triggers their dolor,
And views diabolically dire..
Robert (Seattle)
Thanks as always for this. The last stanza is particularly good.
Meredith (New York)
I saw Lonnie Bunch on Cspan give an impressive presentation at the opening of the museum.

Some political cultures arouse and exploit racism which under another type of leadership would not be expressed and acted out. We have a political atmosphere now that is motivating some unstable people to go to extremes. There have been increases in attacks and insults to blacks and other racial/ethnic/religious groups.

And the police violence against minorities goes on, and the public sees that the police get away with it. This pattern is poisoning our society.

The lynchings of the past were just legalized murder to protect white superiority and power. The murderers were protected by sheriffs, congressmen and governors. With many of the murders of blacks in the Civil Rights era, it took decades before anyone was prosecuted for the crimes.

At least now, many of the confederate statues are being taken down.
But the effect of our policies that increase economic inequality and downward mobility is to worsen tensions that might otherwise lay dormant.
Patrick (Ithaca, NY)
"At least now, many of the confederate statues are being taken down." And therein lies our future tragedy. "Whitewashing" the past under the guise of political correctness is a milder version of Mao's "Cultural Revolution" wherein they wanted to erase much of their past too. We must accept all our history, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Without the reminders of the past, there is a greater chance it will be forgotten. And those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.
Embroiderista (Houston, TX)
With all due respect, Patrick, no.

We must *acknowledge* all our history. Accept it? No.
Fumanchu (Jupiter)
Pat, you've written one of the dumbest, ill considered posts I seen recently. Read up on how those stupid monuments came into being.
Allen Roth (NYC)
I am white, and I continue to aver that racism, unfortunately, continues to be the number one social problem in our country. It continues to astonish me how many people think that racism is a past issue, since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
Mr. Grieves (Blips and Chitz!)
It's surreal when you remind yourself that there are still two generations of Americans who were born before Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia.
It's intrinsic to all life, but I don't ruminate on the British screwing my Irish ancestors, stealing their land and forcing them into even worse poverty and starvation and indentured work for them. Or the British that ransacked my other ancestors' Canadian cities and farms and forcibly removed them through the yellow fever infested South to Louisiana. Nostalgia is a waste of time and energy.
Kevin (San Francisco)
In 1993, when I was a student and worked as a part-time bellman at the Vanderbilt Holiday Inn, I met Dr. Bunch who was a guest. He was kind and very encouraging to me, a curious undergraduate. He even gave me his card. I'm glad to see he's risen to this position. I'm sorry to see he has to write this.
Michjas (Phoenixe)
Racism can persist and yet become less of a problem, The advances made by blacks in basketball and football, and increasing intermarriage have all helped. And the redirection of racist attention toward Muslims and Hispanics tends to lessen discrimination against blacks, even while there remains those who harass blacks with their nooses.
See also