Louisiana civil rights museum hindered

Published 10:27 pm Friday, December 28, 2012

BATON ROUGE (AP) — After 13 years on the drawing board, a civil rights museum in New Orleans appears to be far from becoming a reality in Louisiana.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne said given the fiscal condition of the state, he doesn’t see it becoming a priority.

The pace of the project frustrates former state Sen. Diana Bajoie, who originally pitched the museum to the Legislature in 1999.

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Bajoie, D-New Orleans, introduced legislation establishing the Louisiana Civil Rights Museum as the state’s official civil rights museum. The museum was supposed to take responsibility for the “collection, preservation, and exhibition of archives, books, charts, documents, maps, records and other artifacts relative to the evolution, development, and history of civil rights in Louisiana.”

“It’s a story that needs to be told and we need to preserve the history,” Bajoie said.

Before leaving the Legislature, Bajoie tried to revive the project in 2004 by requiring an annual report of the museum operations and management. A museum board was established.

However, a lack of funding continues to stall the project.

Building a state museum generally requires obtaining money in the state construction budget, which the governor largely controls.

The civil rights museum has obtained $900,000 in construction money, or capital outlay, money over the years, some of which has been spent on a feasibility study.

Former Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Gov. Bobby Jindal scrapped millions more dollars that legislators tried to secure for the project. Most recently, Jindal nixed a $75,000 cash line of credit for the museum.

Dardenne said the feasibility study suggested several sites in New Orleans’ museum corridor for the civil rights museum. The problem, he said, is that acquiring land and building a museum takes money.


Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com