The search for a new director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is over. After careful consideration of a pool of 200 candiadtes the New York Public Library issued a statement saying that Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad will be the next curator of America’s largest archive of African-American history.
Reportedly, a nine-member search committee reached a unanimous decision to approve the Indiana University professor.
His appointment will become effective July 2011. “We are confident that the extensive search process, involving many strong candidates out of a pool of more than 200, has brought to the Schomburg a leader of unique vision and inspiration who will bridge the many communities and generations served by the Center,” the statement said.
Dr. Muhammad is a native of Chicago’s South Side.
He has served as assistant professor of history at Indiana University for five years.
His father is noted Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photographer Ozier Muhammad.
His great grandfather, Elijah Muhammad is nationally acclaimed for his pioneering role as the founder of the Nation of Islam.
“This appointment is a tremendous honor and for me one of life’s special moments,” Dr. Muhammad said. “I look forward to continuing the Schomburg’s remarkable legacy as a world-class institution that simply has no peer, to extending reach to those who may not yet be part of the Schomburg community, and to the Center’s playing a crucial role in moving Black history from the margins to the center of American public discourse.”
“There has never been a more exciting time in the history of the Schomburg Center,” Aysha Schomburg, great-granddaughter of Arturo Schomburg said.
In her role as president of the Schomburg Corporation, and search committee member to decide the director of the library founded by her famous relative.
“Without any doubt, Khalil has the skills and the passion to build on the legacy. This is a great day for New York and especially for Harlem. We welcome him.”
“My hope for Dr. Muhammad is at the forefront of scholarship on the enduring link between race and crime, that has shaped and limited opportunities for African Americans.
Of joining the Schomburg Center, Dr. Muhammad said: “I treasure this opportunity to wed my passion for African-American history with my commitment to scholarship. I am committed to promoting the voice of Black people as they have engaged in the most significant issues of our times. What matters to me is that they and people of the African Diaspora are able to articulate why their humanity matters, to show and showcase their contributions to the world, and to have in a sense the Schomburg Center.”
Dr. Muhammad said he plans to build upon the online studies initiated by his predecessor Dr. Howard Dodson.
One of his first initiatives he said will be “encouraging staff and users to embrace digital technologies as we reach out to youth, especially by creatively opening up the Center’s resources and exhibitions so that they can come to know us on their own terms.”
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