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NOW-SUN, MAY 17
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5/4/15 1:51 PM
WASHINGTON — The unemployment
rate for black Americans fell to single
digits in April for the first time in nearly
seven years. At the same time, the job-
less rate among Asian-Americans rose
for the first time in six months.
The black unemployment rate in
April was 9.6 percent, the lowest level
since June 2008. During the financial cri-
sis and recession, the rate had risen as
high as 16.8 percent.
Despite the latest improvement,
the employment gap by race remains
stubbornly wide. The jobless rate
for blacks is more than twice that of
Meanwhile, the Asian-American un-
employment rate climbed to 4.4 per-
cent from 3.2 percent in March. It was
the first such increase since October.
The data for various demographic
groups came from a survey of house-
holds that is part of the Labor Depart-
ment's monthly jobs data.
By BRETT ZONGKER
WASHINGTON — With a bronze metal
and glass structure taking shape on the
National Mall, the Smithsonian Institution
said Thursday that its new National Muse-
um of African American History and Cul-
ture is on track to open in 2016.
Over the past two weeks, workers have
begun installing the bronze-color panels
that will form the defining “corona” facade
of Washington's newest museum. The idea
was inspired by an African headdress. Ar-
chitects said it will appear as a glowing
bronze crown in different lights.
The design is a significant departure
from the mostly classical structures of
Washington. Museum Director Lonnie
Bunch said the idea for the
metal lattice panels was
meant to evoke the work of
enslaved craftspeople and
iron workers who created
screens and designs popu-
lar in New Orleans and
Charleston, South Carolina.
“So much of the Afri-
is hidden in plain sight,”
Bunch said during a brief-
ing on the museum's prog-
ress. “I thought: Wouldn't
it be powerful to take this
building and in some ways
make it a monument to all
those people whose work shaped this
country, whose work made the country
possible but whose work is often forgot-
After 10 years of work to develop the
museum, Bunch said the building has
reached a milestone as its defining ele-
ments become evident. The building is 18
months from completion. Bunch said he's
determined the museum will open before
President Barack Obama leaves office so
that the nation's first black president can
cut the ribbon.
The Smithsonian has raised $476 mil-
lion in public and private funds. Congress
provided half the building funds and mon-
ey for staffing, and about $200 million has
been raised privately from corporations,
foundations and individuals. The Smithso-
nian still must raise as much as $70 million
more to finish the project, Bunch said.
donations of $25 and $50
have shown how important
the museum is to so many
people, Bunch said. Nearly
82,000 people have joined
the museum as members to
contribute to the building,
representing every state.
The museum has built a
collection of 40,000 artifacts,
and a staff of 160 is develop-
ing the 11 major exhibits
that visitors will find at the
opening next year. The ex-
hibits will trace the history
of slavery, segregation, civil
rights and African-Ameri-
cans’ achievements in the
arts, entertainment, sports,
the military and the wider culture.
Bunch said it will be a museum for ev-
eryone to gain a fuller, more nuanced un-
derstanding of history.
“The strength of this museum is that
it seeks to use African American culture
as a lens to understand what it means
to be an American,” he said. “We're all
shaped by the African-American expe-
Unemployment rate for black
Americans now at 7-year low
Page: A 3 Nation
Photo: Internet photo of the
Category: Black, business
Head: Unemployment rate
for black Americans at 7-year
museum on track
for 2016 opening
PHOTO COURTESY OF NMAAHC.SI.EDU
National Museum of African American History and Culture
PHOTO COURTESY OF SMITHSONIAN.COM
A rendering of the rail car within the new National Museum
of African American History and Culture.
Unemployment rate by group:
(Numbers in percentages) April 2015 March 2015 April 2014
20-24 years old
25-54 years old
55 and over
Veterans of Iraq/Afghanistan*
No high school diploma
High school graduate
Duration of Unemployment:
Average length (weeks)
Jobless 6 months of more (pct.)
* Not seasonally adjusted
Source: Labor Department
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