Not only did Khalil Gibran Muhammad, the director of the Schomburg Center, respond insightfully to questions from Melissa Harris-Perry on her show Sunday morning on MSNBC, but also it was revealed that he was slated to be in Washington, D.C., Monday to receive a National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
“The Schomburg Center is thrilled that the IMLS recognizes the achievements of one of Harlem’s oldest cultural institutions,” Muhammad said in an email. “The work of cultural preservation and everyday library work, serving the needs of all, give purpose and meaning to our talented staff. We are happy to share this honor with our neighbors and all of the nation.”
For more than a score of years, the medal has been awarded to institutions that present extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service to make a difference for members of the community. The Schomburg is one of 10 recipients this year.
Harlemites and visitors from around the world have experienced many of the amenities offered by this great repository of artifacts, memorabilia and research material and marvelous exhibitions, which have focused on such cultural phenomena as Motown, the Civil Rights Movement and the current “Black Lives Matter” movement.
According to Maura Marx, acting director of the IMLS, “Museums and libraries are vital community anchors that enhance civic engagement, cultural and educational opportunities, and economic vitality,” all of which abounds regularly from the Schomburg through a variety of programs.
“Since 1925,” Muhammad added, “the Schomburg Center has been home to many of the world’s greatest writers, historians and artists, from James Baldwin to Maya Angelou to Harry Belafonte, and thousands in between. As we celebrate our 90th year and in recognition of the National Medal, we are strengthening our foundation so as to be an indispensable resource for the next generation of storytellers, history makers and world changers.”
After receiving the award and the ceremony, StoryCorps, a national nonprofit dedicated to recording, preserving and sharing the stories of Americans, is scheduled to visit the Schomburg to document stories from the community.