As reported by the Associated Press today, beloved talk show host, multi-millionaire, and CEO of her own TV network OWN, Oprah Winfrey has agreed to donate $12 million toward the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. Winfrey’s is the biggest so far.
The 19th Smithsonian museum, located on Washington’s National Mall is slated for completion in 2015. It intends to tell the story of African-American history from slavery to the post-Civil War period, the civil rights era, the Harlem Renaissance, and into the 21st century.
Winfrey, who is also a member of the museum’s advisory council, will have boast a 350-seat theater named after her. The theater will showcase how African-American culture has shaped the country and the world.
Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the museum said the media mogul had been very much involved in its creation and talks were taking place to acquire memorabilia from her career. He said he would love to have one of the microphones used during her television show to add to the museum’s collection of more than 22,000 items.
In a statement released by the museum, Winfrey said: “I am deeply appreciative of those who paved the path for me and all who follow in their footsteps. By investing in this museum, I want to help ensure that we both honor and preserve our culture and history, so that the stories of who we are will live on for generations to come,” she added.
Costing $500 million to build, the US government is providing half of the funding with the remainder being raised through private donations.
Some of the items which will be displayed include, abolitionist Harriet Tubman’s lace shawl; a Jim Crow-era segregated railroad car; slave rebellion leader Nat Turner’s Bible; and the glass-topped casket that held the body of 14-year-old Emmett Till, whose 1955 murder in Mississippi for whistling at a white woman helped spark the civil rights movement.
The museum’s most recent big acquisition was a South Carolina slave cabin dating from the 19th Century. The cabin from Edisto Island was disassembled in May in preparation for its move to the museum.
“We are inspired and profoundly grateful for Ms. Winfrey’s generosity at this important time. Every donation, whether $25 or a $10 million corporate donation, is important. But truly, there’s only one Oprah Winfrey,” Bunch said.