Funding the U.S. National Slavery Museum

Organizers of the United States National Slavery Museum must raise $10 million by summer's end or risk missing their late 2008 goal for opening the slave history repository. The museum is more than a decade in the works.

The cash would go toward building a visitor center and gardens, the first phase of the Fredericksburg museum slated to contain more than 5,000 slavery relics.

For now, the 38-acre site along the banks of the Rappahannock River sits empty.

Richmond Mayor Douglas Wilder, the nation's first elected black governor, thought up the museum during a trip to Africa in 1993. He's since rounded up support among such black entertainers as Bill Cosby and Ben Vereen, but fundraising has stumbled.

Wilder has blamed difficulty among Americans with acknowledging the tragedy of slavery. Neither he nor his supporters have come forward to fund the museum, saying they want the site to be financed by everyday Americans.

The museum has $50 million in cash and in-kind donations on hand, but the amount hasn't budged much in the past few months despite fundraising efforts.


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