The Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia faced widespread pushback from historians this week amid plans to host Moms for Liberty, a group that has advocated against rights for queer people.
While Moms for Liberty describes itself as an organization that enables caregivers of children to “defend their parental rights,” the group has agitated for bans on material dealing with slavery, racism, and the oppression of LGBTQ+ communities in schools.
“Moms for Liberty claims to be a grassroots organization, but its founders and founding chapter have strong ties to high-ranking elected officials and national anti-LGBTQ groups including the Heritage Foundation,” GLAAD notes on its website.
This week in Philadelphia, Moms for Liberty is hosting the Joyful Warriors National Summit, an event whose speakers include Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, and Nikki Haley. The summit’s opening reception is to take place at the Museum of the American Revolution, which has in the past earned awards from the American Alliance of Museums, a prominent industry group.
Various historians’ groups and LGBTQ+ organizations decried the museum for hosting the reception.
On Monday, the Organization of American Historians published a lengthy missive on the matter called “Statement on Threats to Inclusive History.” “As the largest professional organization of US historians in the country, the OAH expresses, unequivocally, the organization’s opposition to the actions of M4L and groups like it that seek to distort history and historical practice,” that statement reads. “There are multiple harms at the center of the agenda of these groups: harm to accurate and inclusive history, harm to the work undertaken everyday by our community of historians, and harm to individual historians—especially in the LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities.
“We condemn these groups that threaten by word and action the ability of teachers to teach, students to learn, scholars to produce and amplify histories of systemic discrimination, and the safety of individuals for whom that discrimination still reverberates today,” the statement continues. “The increasing normalization of these groups in the national public discourse is an outrage.”
A little more than a week prior to that, the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History wrote that Moms for Liberty was an “extremist” group. “By giving Moms for Liberty a platform at a historical institution,” the organization said, “the Museum of the American Revolution lends legitimacy to the group’s dangerous views. The Committee on LGBT History encourages the museum to cancel their contract and to take action to regain the trust of their LGBTQIA+ employees and the queer community of Philadelphia.”
James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association, even penned a letter to museum president Scott Stephenson, writing, “For the AHA, this isn’t about politics or different understandings of our nation’s past; it’s about an organization whose mission is to obstruct the professional responsibilities of historians. We encourage you to reconsider whether this organization should be granted the legitimacy of holding a major event at a museum with the reputation and professional standing of the Museum of the American Revolution.”
ARTnews has reached out to the Museum of the American Revolution for comment.