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Kenneth ClarkKenneth Clark
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Session:         Page of 763


In other words, to use that colloquialism, she did not want to be a “house black.”


That's right. In fact, I must say to you that she resigned from the Museum of Modern Art's board precisely for that reason. That's a rather prestigious board. I would say, “Mamie, why are you resigning from that board? I love to go to the receptions.” She said, “I don't really have anything to contribute beside being black.” There was a time when she did contribute something in terms of the black artists who were raising questions about their representation in the museum. She worked on that. But within a year or two after that she felt that there was nothing which she could contribute which the other members of the board couldn't contribute, and be more practical about. Because, she said, the board members of the Museum of Modern Art were involved in art. Art acquisitions and whatnot. It was not something that involved spreading to the public in general--that is, except through their exhibits and whatnot. That was the quality of the person. I guess maybe it was maybe difficult for her colleagues on that board to understand. Here was a black woman who was being honored by being invited to the board who stayed on it for maybe four or five years and then said to them, “No, [she] didn't want to continue.” A number of members of the board tried to persuade her personally to continue. The same thing happened with the American Broadcasting Company. She was on that board, and enjoyed it, for quite a while. Then when she saw that there really was nothing more that she could contribute she told Leonard Goldinson

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