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Explore the Constellation

National Negro Memorial


ca. 1926

Efforts to build a national Black history museum began with this memorial.

This coin bank is a souvenir from the first campaign to build a national museum honoring African American achievement. First proposed in 1915, the National Negro Memorial was the brainchild of a group of citizens, including Black Civil War veterans. Black women took active roles in the effort to build the memorial. Julia West Hamilton, a leader of Black women’s clubs in Washington, D.C., testified before Congress. Mary McLeod Bethune served on the planning commission. Though the National Negro Memorial was never built, its legacy inspired the creation of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.